• Interview:The Believer presents the fourth and concluding part of Ross Simonini's 2008 interview with Jim Woodring (which can be read in its entirety here): "I don’t believe in art like I used to. I believe in something beyond it, something that contains art and everything else. But I just don’t quite have the nerve to chuck drawing and painting. Part of it is that I enjoy IT too much, and part is that I don’t have the courage to renounce the world. I don’t want to move out of this nice neighborhood so that I can live in a shed and devote myself to meditating and touching something I can’t feel. I’m addicted to the fun of playing in the world."
• Review: "Fantagraphics is giving us another opportunity to revisit R. Crumb's iconic character in a hardcover edition of his collected adventures, called The Life and Death of Fritz the Cat.... Despite Fritz's demise 40 years ago, these stories maintain their wit, satirical edge, and their ability to offend and shock. The earlier stories are funny and bizarre..., and the later ones are funny and angry... Even the final story can be viewed as funny in an extraordinarily dark context, although it helps to be aware of Crumb's intentions. To read 'Fritz the Cat, Superstar' first, or without knowledge of Crumb, would feel a lot like confronting a knife-wielding lunatic in a dark alley.... Fantagraphics' new hardcover edition of the Fritz portfolio is unburdened by editorial commentary or contextual material of any kind. This encourages readers to experience the comics as if for the first time -- and find that the acid in Crumb's humor still stings." – Casey Burchby, SF Weekly
• Review: "Just released by Fantagraphics, [Action! Mystery! Thrills!] is one the best books yet done on Golden Age Comics! Sadowski is by far my favorite editor of compilations/retrospectives on comic book art!... A fascinating and important look at an exceptional period of American art! My highest recommendation to anyone interested in 20th Century illustration and of course the comics!" – Golden Age Comic Book Stories (via The Comics Reporter)
• Review: "[Athos in America]'s the usual collection of laconic oddness and outright weirdness.... Yes, it would be fair to say if you're looking for examples of dark humour in comics, Jason probably would be a very good place to start." – Jonathan Rigby, Page 45
• Review: "Mixing illustrated text pieces with short comic strips, Kupperman uses [an] oddball conceit [in Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910-2010] to deliver a wacky, adventure-filled romp that sends you laughing your way through the twentieth century.... The thick, precise lines of Kupperman’s drawing style bring a much needed dead-pan expression to a book that might otherwise feel out of control. The text pieces are often well-used, giving Kupperman more room to play with Twain’s voice and toss in frequent verbal puns." – Matthew L. Moffett, No Flying No Tights
Some great reports have been flowing in about Gary Groth and Robert Crumb's appearance at Comic Con India in New Delhi this past weekend, both from individuals and press — here are a few that have come to our attention. Above and below, photos of Gary giving his presentation in front of the Jumbotron while Crumb listens in rapt attention from illustrator Samia Singh, who has more pics and a brief writeup on her blog.
Mohita Nagpal of Delhi English-language daily newspaper The Pioneer talked to Gary: "There is something here for everybody who loves comics. It’s a very nice intimate event. Haven’t been to something quite like this."
Vishad Sharma of music site NH7 wrote up the event, including a brief report on Gary's presentation: "What made the talk especially priceless for me was two things – the fact that Robert Crumb was sitting about two chairs away from me (glee!), who was extremely disappointed with the questions people were asking Groth and a lady sitting behind me who pointed to Groth and asked the man next to her, 'Does this man make comics? Why is he talking if he doesn’t?'"
Even The Hollywood Reporter was there, with Nyay Bhushan getting this soundbites: "'This is our first time in India and perhaps this could inspire us to create something based on our visit,' said Crumb. 'It is great to be here because this reminds me of the exciting times when comic conventions first started out in the sixties and seventies in the U.S.,' added Groth."
And last but not least, Chris Oliveros, "The Chief" over at our esteemed colleagues Drawn & Quarterly, posts his own first-hand account and some great photos, including Aline Kominsky-Crumb and hubby Robert at the opening ceremonies and Gary's on-stage interview with Crumb:
We're hoping to squeeze a first-person recap out of Gary when he gets back this afternoon, but chances are he'll be needing to put his nose right back to the grindstone. *WHIP-CRACK!*
• 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
• Review: "...[C]urrent fans of the [Zippy] strip are in for a surprise, a shock, and, ultimately, a major treat, when they pick up Griffith's new career retrospective, Lost and Found: Comics 1969-2003... The journey from these energy-packed, overstuffed, unpolished early comics to the elegant masterwork of the present is a journey greater than that of Gary Trudeau with Doonesbury or Charles Schultz with Peanuts.... His early reign as an oversexed adolescent-minded wiseacre gives way to a long golden afternoon of wry and wistful philosophizing, with frequent salient eruptions of deserved ire and malice toward all!" – Paul Di Filippo, The Barnes & Noble Review
• Interview: At Literary Kicks, Alan Bisbort talks to Bill Griffith about his career-spanning collection Lost and Found: "When I put this new collection together, Fantagraphics had been trying to get me to do this book for about ten years. When they first suggested it, they wanted some of the early, pre-Zippy work, along with the other non-Zippy work of more recent years. But I told them at first that 'that stuff has got to be hidden. Maybe when I’m dead someone can bring it out' but then over a period of time I grew to accept my arc, so to speak, whatever my arc is."
• Review: "Wandering Son... is a measured, sensible and sensitive series... Part of Wandering Son's hook is a distanced view at discomfort with one's own body. The manga is written to evoke the feeling of being ill at ease in one's own skin, such that everyone who has went through puberty can sympathize with these characters, regardless of their own relationship with sexual identity issues. I'm not so sure how particularly, generally appealing the prospect of reliving those feeling may be, but that sort of identification is a crucial part of what makes Wandering Son a superlatively fascinating manga.... Though it may or may not be an effective mirror to our own lives, it has its reader thinking about everything, both small and significant, [that] shape[s] us. As a result, Wandering Son proves to be deeply involving in an unconventional way." – Scott Green, Ain't It Cool News
• Review: "[The Life and Death of Fritz the Cat]'s beautifully drawn, even the earliest material. Fritz’s face is as expressive as all get-out, though you may be surprised at how dainty Crumb’s line is mid-period. One thing, however, remains consistent throughout and once more it’s Winston who hits the juvenile nail on its dream-addled, sex-obsessed head. 'Oh you’re such a child! Such a self-centred, egotistical child!'" – Stephen L. Holland, Page 45
• Review: "I believe that the Drunken Dream collection of stories lays the groundwork for measuring all of the wonderful components of girls’ comics. It’s a heck of a yardstick, I’ll tell you that.... It’s impossible to read through these panels and not feel your own life in them — and that’s why Hagio is such a brilliant writer. Shoujo manga is all about feelings, and Hagio is the master of feelings. The Queen of Feelings. THE EMPRESS OF FEELINGS.... I had never heard of the 24 Year Group before reading this anthology, but I feel like my life has been dramatically enriched by this collection. I want to buy three copies of it so that I can loan 2 to new people and have a back up loan copy for the eventual time when one of them gets stolen." – NOVI Magazine
• Commentary: At The Creators Project, Emerson Rosenthal talks to our own Larry Reid for an article on "the rise of DIY publishing and the revival of the printed word": "'The "Great Recession" forced us to get better with design if anything […] what you’re getting is a better looking book, more sustainable, and cheaper on the shelf. If anything, it’s a better product,' says Reid. 'At the same time, the self-bound ‘zine is definitely on the rebound.'"
This week's comic shop shipment is slated to include the following new titles. Read on to see what comics-blog commentators and web-savvy comic shops are saying about them (more to be added as they appear), check out our previews at the links, and contact your local shop to confirm availability.
208-page full-color 7.75" x 10" hardcover • $29.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-502-0
"Usually the splurge category is where I go for thick, colorful books of classic comics, and... this looks like a Fantagraphics week, with two compilations that span opposite ends of the love spectrum: Young Romance: The Best of Simon & Kirby’s Romance Comics ($29.99), and The Life and Death of Fritz the Cat ($19.99). That’s a whole lotta reading for $50." – Brigid Alverson, Robot 6
"On the historical front, Fantagraphics continues its excellent classic reprints with Young Romance: The Best of Simon & Kirby’s Romance Comics. Jack Kirby and Joe Simon created the genre, and this book is reported to include 21 stories, 200 pages of 'never-before reprinted material.'" – Johanna Draper Carlson, Comics Worth Reading
"Joe Simon and Jack Kirby invented the romance comic book with 1947's Young Romance #1, and cranked them out together for the next twelve years. This collection, edited by Michael Gagné, surveys stories from Young Romance, Young Love and the shorter-lived genre-hybrid titles Western Love and Real West Romances. (Gagné notes that he deliberately didn't include any material that would have overlapped with the 1988 collection Real Love: The Best of the Simon and Kirby Romance Comics.)" – Douglas Wolk, ComicsAlliance
"Casual Robert Crumb fans might be interested in The Life and Death of Fritz the Cat. Jack Kirby fans will definitely be interested in Young Romance, a collection of heartthrob tales from Simon and Kirby (see my review)." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"...The Life and Death of Fritz the Cat returns one the artist’s best-known creations to the comprehensive format, now in hardcover; $19.99. Also hard as nails is Young Romance: The Best of Simon and Kirby’s Romance Comics, a 208-page Michel Gagné-edited compilation of turmoil and ecstasy from the pre- and post-Code eras by a pair of genre architects you might recognize; $29.99." – Joe McCulloch, The Comics Journal
"Work you probably have in one form or another. If you don't have [it], you should probably want [it]. The Fritz book is handsome; I haven't cracked my copy yet.... I have a decided lack of reading experience with romance comics, so I'm hoping the Young Romance book is effectively curated." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"Joe Simon and Jack Kirby doing romance comics. That’s all you need to know. ...Simon and Kirby redefined comics with their tales of romance which opened up the audience far beyond young boys who wanted to wear towels and punch each other. With talents like these on any comics, you are guaranteed that they are going to be well written and beautifully drawn." – Geeks of Doom
On Saturday February 18th, Gary gives a special talk about the evolution of alternative comics in America and the history of Fantagraphics.
And on Sunday February 19th, Gary leads a live conversation with special guest of honor Robert Crumb for what promises to be an illuminating and entertaining look at the life and work of one of comics' all-time greats.
Will there be photos of Gary, Crumb and Drawn & Quarterly chief Chris Oliveros (also in attendance) sharing an elephant ride, as pondered by someone on the D&Q Twitter feed? We can dream. For the 0.65% of you who live in India (thanks, Google Analytics), this is the event of a lifetime!
“I can express something [with animals] that is different from what I put into my work about humans... I can put more nonsense, more satire and fantasy into the animals...” — R. Crumb
Created by an adolescent R. Crumb in the late 1950s, Fritz the Cat rose to fame — along with his creator — during the underground comix revolution of the 1960s, and remains Crumb’s most well-known character and an internationally recognized icon of 1960s culture.
Fritz is a feline, freewheeling chiseler who allowed Crumb to express some of his most acidic commentary on American culture. Tragicomedy, farce and satire all rolled into one, The Life and Death of Fritz the Cat chronicles the very best of Fritz's adventures from his early days as an idealistic college student to his ultimate fate as a jaded, burned-out superstar, including Crumb’s infamous send-off of the character in the wake of Ralph Bakshi’s animated feature film, an experience and project that completely dissatisfied Crumb.
Finally collected in a single volume, these Fritz stories are a funny, insightful, authentic record of a tumultuous period in American life, with humor and compassion by the most well-respected cartoonist of all time.
This long out-of-print first volume of the multiple Harvey and Eisner award- winning Complete Crumb Comics series has been one of our most demanded reprints. Now, this landmark volume of Robert Crumb’s formative years not only returns, but also boasts a major discovery not included in prior editions: a never-before-published, 60 page “home-made” Arcade comic from 1962.
Growing up, Robert and his brother Charles often created their own comic books. These “home-made” editions were usually produced in editions of one. As such, many have been lost to time or private collections. What hasn’t comprises much of the first two volumes of The Complete Crumb series. Their creation continued throughout the 1950s and into the early ’60s and eventually the content of Crumb’s work gradually matured from the light-hearted, funny animal antics of earlier years to stories that flashed signals of what we now recognize as “true Crumb.”
This previously undiscovered Arcade “issue,” from May, 1962, shows many flashes of where Crumb was heading (whereas Charles had all but abandoned drawing comics by the ’60s). The 17-page strip “Jim” is the most emotionally-charged work of Crumb’s young life to that point, a gentle and psychologically astute look at a boy who needs a mother, and also brimming with signs of his increasing frustration with Catholicism. It also features the first quintessential “Crumb girl,” Mabel.
This volume also includes several early Fritz the Cat stories (a.k.a. “Animal Town Comics”), and the classic “Treasure Island Days” (as seen in the Crumb film) and is rounded out with other strips, diary entries and sketches that will be a treasure trove for Crumb fans, all defining work from Crumb’s formative years as a cartoonist, spanning the years 1958-1962 (when Crumb was ages 15-19) and featuring material from other “home-made” comics of the era. This is Ground Zero for a man who may well be the greatest cartoonist who ever lived.
Download and read a PDF excerpt (10 MB) with 9 pages of previously unpublished material.
• Review: "...Young Romance: The Best of Simon & Kirby’s Romance Comics isn’t just a book of some minor historical interest; it’s a genuinely entertaining and artful set of comics, and in some ways more readable than Simon and Kirby’s adventure stories.... Simon’s plots deal with jealousy, class conflict, mistaken identity, selfishness, and selflessness — the romance staples — while Kirby’s art makes these tales of passion and deceit especially dynamic, with deep shadows and a mix of the glamorous and the lumpen. ...Simon and Kirby... depict[ed] a world of darkness and heavy emotion, inhabited by clean-looking people in pretty clothes." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "Though not a novel per se, The Life and Death of Fritz the Cat does tell a story of sorts, about Crumb’s evolution as an artist, from the mild-mannered greeting-card designer who drew cheeky doodles in his spare time, to the prickly satirist who’d use Fritz as a way to comment on the sick soul of the ’60s and his own at-times-unwieldy success." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "Nuts wasn't action-packed or boldly satirical. Just the opposite, in fact -- it was subtle and thoughtful, with what I'm guessing was a heavy autobiographical element on the part of Mr.Wilson.... You might not have grown up when Wilson did, or when the [National Lampoon] was published, or when I first read these strips years ago, so the details have changed. But I'm willing to bet the emotions our hero felt remain almost exactly the same, no matter what generation is reading about him. And, of course, Gahan Wilson's cartooning is what makes the strips special." – Will Pfeifer, X-Ray Spex
• Review: "There are few collections of comics that you can truly describe as 'beautiful art'; however, Fantagraphics’ series of Prince Valiant trades is absolutely stunning to look at and is easy to write flattering things about, because it is so flattering for a reader’s eyes to behold Foster’s artwork crisp, clear, and huge in all its splendor. The fourth volume of Prince Valiant, which collects all the Sunday pages in full color from 1943 to 1944, is just wonderful, whether you are 4 or 94; it is a totally engrossing experience to dive into the world of the adventurous prince on these pages." – Drew McCabe, ComicAttack.net
• Interview:The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon talks with Zak Sally about his new self-published, self-printed collection of Sammy the Mouse: "I've gotten out three issues of Sammy in five years, and in that five years I've had two kids, I've been married. My life has changed extraordinarily. That's just the way art works, you know. I was doing issue #2 -- maybe #3, I can't remember -- and there was stuff going on in my life. Six months later I look at that issue and I was like, 'Oh my sweet God.' It was absolutely reflective of what had been going on at the time, and I was completely unaware of it. I just think that's part of it, and that's the way it works."
• Interview: At Nummer 9, Erik Barkman has a Q&A (in Danish) with Johan F. Krarups (editor Matthias Wivel describes it as a "commentary track") about his contribution to the Kolor Klimax: Nordic Comics Now anthology
• Plug: Heidi MacDonald of The Beat looks forward to Jaime Hernandez's God and Science: Return of the Ti-Girls: "We can’t help but think that all of the people calling for great superhero stories featuring women will find Ti-Girls a masterpiece, as well, an entire superhero universe made up of nothing but superheroines of various shapes and sizes. It’s jaunty Jaime to be sure, but even so probably one of the best superhero stories of the last decade."
• Plug: "Fantagraphics is still the gold standard for classy newspaper strip collections. I’m afraid people are getting jaded now about how the wonderful Peanuts volumes are chugging right along year after year, but it’s worth pointing out that they continue to be everything anyone could ever want from an archive edition. What’s more, Fantagraphics followed it up with these new Floyd Gottfredson Mickey Mouse collections." – Greg Hatcher, Comic Book Resources
• Plug: Found this nice nugget in Laura Hudson's interview with Chris Onstad at ComicsAlliance: "Jim Woodring is great, and is one of those people who will honestly admit to you that, 'Yeah, my brain's a little f**ked up.' His comics are sort of a manifestation of his brain. It works for him. He's a really wonderful guy. He has this big three-story place with big, gothic abbey rope hanging in front of the front door. The rope rings a little bell to let you know that someone's at the door. One time it rings in the foyer so his wife opens the door, and there's this little cat there that came in from the road. So they let the cat in, shut the door, and we all go about our night. Then we watched Popeye for two hours. That's Jim. And he does all of his work based on hallucination. None of it's set in reality. Uncanny things that make me feel strange happen [in his comics]."
• Analysis: Jordan Hurder, Chance Press examines the collaborations between Jacques Tardi and Jean-Patrick Manchette: "Tardi is a fantastically celebrated cartoonist who has been at the forefront of the industry in France for 35 years. In contrast to his slow burn, Manchette shot out ten crime novels over the course of ten years, redefined and reinvigorated the French crime novel, became hugely influential, and died of cancer in the 1990s.... The compatibility between the two artists is uncanny; maybe a better critic could point out exactly why in just a few words, or maybe it’s one of those matchups that works without needing explanation." – Jordan Hurder, Chance Press
• Commentary:Gary Groth remembers Christopher Hitchens in "My Dinner with Hitch" at The Comics Journal
• History: Speaking of our dear leader, David Hine presents some scans from an issue of Gary's pre-Fantagraphics fanzine, Fantastic Fanzine (hat tip to Dan Nadel at TCJ.com)