The fresh-popped Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review:Publishers Weekly discusses The Hypo by Noah Van Sciver, "Van Sciver’s psychologically astute examination of what might be termed Abraham Lincoln’s “lost years” (1837–1842) is as gripping and persuasive as the best historical fiction. . .This characterization of Lincoln is thoroughly human and identifiable, tracking a shadowy but formative period in the very uneven life of a man who shows little signs of becoming known as one of the greatest Americans. A thoroughly engaging graphic novel that seamlessly balances investigation and imagination." Wow!
• Plug: Noah Van Sciver's diary comics are showing up at The Comics Journal. Enjoy Day #1, Day #2 and Day #3.
• Plug:Comics Alliance JUMPED at the chance to be the first to comment on Naked Cartoonists. Senior writer Chris Sims comments, "Have you ever wanted to see Dilbert creatorScottAdams naked? Yeah, we haven't either, but apparently [Gary Groth] thought that was a good idea . . . joining artists like Will Eisner, For Better Or For Worsecreator Lynn Johnston, Jeff Smith (feel free to make your own Bone joke here) and . . . legendary MAD artist Sergio Aragones."
• Review:The Mary Sue names Moto Hagio's A Drunken Dream and Other Stories one of the 10 Feminist Manga to Read, that is licensed in the USA. Kellie Foxx-Gonzalez says,"Hagio is not only a storyteller, she is undoubtedly a feminist author, using her manga to explore gender, power, and women’s issues. If extended metaphors in manga as an avenue to explore philosophical questions is as appealing to you as it is to me, please, don’t hesitate to pick up this anthology."
• Commentary: Shannon O'Leary of Publishers Weekly says,". . . with No Straight Lines , the most definitive collection of queer comics to date, [Justin] Hall and Fantagraphics have made the voluminous but largely hidden history of LBGT (lesbian, bi-sexual, gay, transgender) comics finally visible as well."
• Review:The Awl and Kim O'Connor talk about autobio comics and include such underground greats like Aline Kominsky Crumb, Carol Tyler in addition to Chris Ware and Joe Sacco. While on the subject of Aline: "An important part of her project was to promote self-loathing as normal and even funny in an era when to do so was extremely unfashionable." O'Connor touched on the rawness of Chris Ware's work,"there's this sense of playful geometry that's deeply satisfying, even if it sometimes gives you the impression the artist's memory palace looks a lot like the Container Store. But the central delight in reading Jimmy Corrigan, as in all of Ware's work, is how it's painfully awkward and incredibly cool at the same time."
• Review: Rob Clough on the High-Low reviews Jim Woodring's Congress of the Animals: ". . . is interesting because it's much more linear a narrative than most of his comics.. . .Unlike the typical Frank story, there's a greater sense of urgency to Frank's wanderings, as he encounters many temptations and pitfalls along his journey to a destination unknown to even him."
• Review:The Critcal Mob released their short list of summer reads and a few Fantagraphics titles made the cut. Paul Guie looks at Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons: "O'Connor's artwork is frequently abstract and raw-looking. . .Nevertheless, her cartoons are always pleasing to look at thanks to the author's strong sense of composition. Panels are rarely cluttered by unnecessary lines, and O'Connor frequently frames her characters with an eye toward visual balance." Peanuts latest volume is also on Guie's radar: ". . . these later comics remain consistently witty and entertaining, and reflect Schulz's continued mastery of comedic timing within a four-panel layout.. . .Consistently subtle yet always timely, after 30 years, Schulz still had a winning formula on his hands." Last but not least, Guie takes Buddy Does Seattle to the beach,"Bagge's artwork [takes] the public's perception of '90s youth as angry and volatile and pushed it to hysterical levels. Heavily influenced by late-'60s counterculture cartoonists like Crumb, Bagge's drawings are fluid and grimy-looking, with frequent use of exaggerated facial expressions helping to cultivate an atmosphere of chaos."
• Commentary: Best Cover EVER on Forbidden Planet according to Richard: "The absolute iconic image. The raw power. Jaime’s incredible use of black in his art. The faces of the crowd. The stagediver (in heels) who’s just left the stage. But most of all, it’s the best comic cover ever because I swear that I’ve never looked at this cover and NOT heard the music they’re playing." The next best thing for Richard? Buying the new shirt featuring the cover of Issue 24.
• Plug:Comics Alliance and Caleb Goellner collect the most recent Adventure Time covers. James Hindle PLAYS an homage to Jaime Hernandez's distinctive cover. Check it out!
• Review:io9 recently created a list of the 10 Comic Characters Cooler than Batman. Jaime Hernandez's Maggie (the Mechanic) and Jacques Tardi's Adele Blanc-Sec topped the list. "Maggie is a survivor, who never stops kicking ass even she's dealing with depression and heartbreak." says Charlie Jane Anders and in reference to Adele Blanc-Sec:"She's a writer in pre-World War I Paris, which automatically makes her cool. . . She's not afraid to shoot guns, drink the hard stuff, or smoke like a man. She spent World War I in cryogenic suspension and then rocked the 1920s."
• Plug:The Last Vispo's editor Nico Vassilakis recently curated an online group of visual artists called Ten Turkish Visual Poets at Trickhouse.
• Interview: The powerful and deft Friedman brothers were interviewed about Any Similarity to Persons Living or Dead is Purely Coincidental by William Michael Smith of the Houston Press. Josh Alan Friedman talks about his brother's artwork,"Originally [Drew Friedman] worked with stippling technique, using a rapidograph pen. Bent over a desk like a watchmaker, doing thousands of dots. A technique made famous by 'Sunday in the Park with Georges' Seurat, but strictly shunned by art schools in the 20th century."
• Plug: Ron Regé, Jr. is up to something sneaky! At We Can Do It.
•Interview (audio): NPR affliate 89.c KPCC interviewed both Significant Objects' editor Joshua Gleen and contributor Mark Frauenfelder (of BoingBoing and MAKE). Madeleine Brand says, "One's man trash is another man's treasure, especially if it comes with a really good story."
•Review:The Comics Journal shakes down Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons, edited by Kelly Gerald.
•Interview (video):Bill Moyers interviews on comics journalist Joe Sacco "I'm not interested in tears, I'm not even interested in sentimentality. But I am interested in telling peoples' stories who are repressed or are poor." Sacco and collaborator Chris Hedges will join Bill Moyers for a chat TONIGHT, Wednesday, July 25 at 2 PM ET.
•Commentary: More insight on upcoming books from Fantagraphics as Bleeding Cool covered the SDCC Fantagraphics/D&Q panel. On Chris Wright's Black Lung:"The story was hard to follow, but that’s a good thing, because it sounds like the sort of surreal, go for broke, graphic storytelling that readers expect when they buy a Fantagraphics book. . . lyrical, anthropomorphic, violent and layered. Enough praise couldn’t be shed for this book. . ." On Ron Rege, Jr.'s Cartoon Utopia: "Beings from the future try to help us evolve, sending us messages, trying to show us what life can be like without “forced entertainment” (i.e. television). Drawn in an idiosyncratic, gorgeous, dense style. . ."
•Review:The Comics Journal locks their tractor beam onto Josh Simmon's collection called The Furry Trap. Brandon Soderberg says, "Josh Simmons’ work eschews the cheap thrills and glib cynicism of most horror comics. . .Simmons is a belligerent cartoonist, drawing without censure, adding a nervous energy to an ostensibly pleasant, bubbly style — like Gary Panter doing Where’s Waldo?, or Peanuts with all the existential despair laid completely bare. And he’s fully dedicated to simple, panel-to-panel pay-off, . . ."
•Plug: Summer art sales continue, this time with Johnny Ryan's A Famous Night (gig posters for concerts the never happened). Buy one for your walls and never have to entertain you in-laws at home again.
•Review:Comic Book Resources focuses on Barry Windsor-Smith's The Freebooters. While examining the first page, Greg Burgas said,"It’s amazing that Barry Windsor-Smith didn’t go blind drawing this page and the two that follows it, but luckily for readers, he managed to produce many beautiful pages after this. This is a fantastic way to begin this comic. . ."
Before there was Mome, before the current explosion of small-press anthologies, there was Blood Orange, the short-lived mid-'00s series edited by Chris Polkki which gathered rising stars of the art-comics scene in four distinctive, beautifully designed 48-page issues. Blood Orange captured the pulse of alt-comics circa 2004-2005. We recently recovered a small quantity of shrink-wrapped packs of all 4 issues from the distributor, and we're now offering them via mail-order for the special low price of $17.85 — that's 3 issues for the price of 4! (You can also get the individual issues for $5.95 each.)
In the first issue: Nicolas Mahler, Rick Altergott, Michael Kupperman, Lauren Weinstein, Typex, David Collier, Maaike Hartjes, Allison Cole, Tobias Tak, Dan James, Marc Bell, John Hankiewicz, Matthew Thurber, Kevin Huizenga, Ron Regé Jr., a sketchbook from Gary "Teacher's Pet" Baseman, and covers by Andrew Brandou.
The second issue continues to encourage experimentation, pushing the medium in new directions. Look for innovative stories from groundbreakers such as Archer Prewitt, Rebecca Dart, Chris Wright (with a full-length 18-page story), Ron Regé Jr., Jeffrey Brown, Matti Hagelberg, Lauren Weinstein, Cole Johnson, Helge Reumann, and Fabio Viscogliosi, along with drawings by Renee French... all wrapped in a lovely cover designed by the one and only Steven Weissman.
The third issue of this always-surprising quarterly anthology series features European cartoonists Pakito Bolino and Caroline Sury (of France's Le Dernier Cri), Ulf K., Alex Baladi, Nicolas Mahler, Olaf Ladousse, and Fabio Zimbres; as well the homegrown talents of Anders Nilsen, Renee French and Ben Jones (Paper Rad). Also includes a brand-new 11-pager by Jeffrey Brown! With an eye-popping cover by French illustrator Olivier Douzou.
Blood Orange #4 wraps up the series with exclusive new stories by Brian Ralph, Lark Pien, Tobias Tak, Rebecca Dart and Ted May. Covers by Lark Pien.
The days are ticking down to the arrival of Ron Regé Jr.'s The Cartoon Utopia this November. If, like me, you're eagerly looking forward to the book and you're a fan of Ron's hand-lettering (seriously, he doesn't get enough credit for it), you'll be happy to see this Table of Contents Ron's just posted.
Ron Regé Jr. says "I am still accepting donations to help complete work on The Cartoon Utopia. For a donation of any amount, I will send you a small drawing similar to one of these!" See more examples and find the donation link here. Ron is hoping to finish up the book for a Fall 2012 release from Fantagraphics!
• Feature: At Maclean's, Jaime Weinman gets to the bottom of Pogo - Vol. 1 of the Complete Syndicated Comic Strips: Through the Wild Blue Wonder, talking to co-editor Kim Thompson and calling the volume "the first book that gives a full sense of what it was like to read Kelly’s pioneering strip from the beginning. The first volume goes up to 1950, when Kelly began to incorporate more pointed humour...; the McCarthy character hasn’t shown up yet, but allegories about Communist witch-hunting already pop up. But the darker daily strips alternate with cheerful Sunday installments, demonstrating that Kelly never lost his sense of charm and whimsy. And it helps that because of the book format, what San Francisco Chronicle columnist Jon Carroll called Kelly’s 'love of high-flown language' is more legible than it often was in newspapers."
• Review: "...Kevin Huizenga's latest volume of Ganges [is] a work that is so inventive and playful and thoughtful and that offers such a breathtaking level of technical virtuosity that it makes me want to climb up onto a rooftop and scream at the top of my voice 'COMICS ARE FUCKING AWESOME' like some sort of lovesick geeky schoolboy in a bad 1980s teen comedy asking the prom queen to date him." – Jason Sacks, Comics Bulletin
• Plug: Mark Kaufman spotlights Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910-2010 by Michael Kupperman at Illustration Age: "The very much alive Samuel Clemens’ story is told from WWI to the present. Twain details his careers as an ad man, astronaut, hypnotist, Yeti hunter, porn star, drifter, grifter and more. Find out why this book has been getting rave reviews from NPR to The Hollywood Reporter to Andy Richter’s Twitter stream."
• Review: "One of the greatest comic strips of all time and a peak in visual splendor and breath-taking adventure, the story of Prince Valiant's 30+ year odyssey is getting a marvelous presentation in Fantagraphics' series of books, which just reached Volume 4.... What might surprise modern readers is the relative complexity of Valiant, who grows and matures subtly over the years. The strip is violent, sexy, serious, droll and above all eye-catching.... The pleasure of how solidly and carefully [these volumes] are made is part of the pleasure of reading them. You feel like a little kid as you prop the giant volume up and literally dive into the tale that fills your vision, much as kids and adults did more than 70 years ago. It's a worthy presentation for one of the most important and entertaining works in comic strip history." – Michael Giltz, The Huffington Post
• Interview:Vice's Liz Armstrong talks with Ron Regé Jr. about his upcoming book The Cartoon Utopia: "I'm not interested in making a bunch of storyboards or writing a script. Comics are the visual representation of language. So comics are the most ancient and the most vital and most important art form that humanity has ever known. It's also the oldest. Cave paintings, having the form of an image that represents an idea, is what comics are. I wrote an essay called, 'Fuck Other Forms of Art.'"
• Interview (Audio): Speaking of Mike Dawson-hosted podcasts, John Kerschbaum sits in on the new episode of The Ink Panthers with Dawson and co-host Alex Robinson
• Culture: Jeet Heer reports on the Iowa Comics Conference at The Comics Journal, featuring the Hernandez Brothers, Joe Sacco, Gary Groth and others. On the new issue of Love and Rockets: New Stories: "Everyone, of course, has been raving about Jaime’s story in this issue, which like the magnificent 'Browntown' in L&R #3 is one of best comics ever done. I’ll freely confess that at the end of the new issue when I saw how Jaime had tied together the fates of Hopey, Maggie, and Ray I started crying like a baby. ...Gilbert’s recent comics have the protean energy and relentless will to reinvention that rivals the Crumb of Weirdo and Hup."
• Commentary:Robot 6's Sean T. Collins spotlights Heer's article and adds his own thoughts: "The only thing more striking than the fact that Jaime set this career-defining hurdle for himself is that he freaking cleared it.... It's worth noting that in his contribution to New Stories #4, Gilbert takes Fritz to a place of potential finality not unlike the one that his brother Jaime's leading players occupy at the end of 'The Love Bunglers.' Yeah, it’s really quite a comic."
• Analysis: At Robot 6, Matt Seneca examines page 89, by Jaime Hernandez, from Love and Rockets: New Stories #4: "It’s a wonderful meeting of form and content: a completely unified page on the subject of unification, a single unit made up of eight perfectly chosen, gorgeously cartooned panels, each one complete in itself as a composed single drawings. This is comics at the highest level, with nothing wasted and everything on the page done as well as it possibly could be."
• Plug: Kim Thompson points out that ActuaBD "referred to our Gil Jordan edition as 'très beau,' which is nice."
If you could color me excited I'd look a lot like the image above: the great Ron Regé Jr. is finishing up his new book The Cartoon Utopia, which (fanfare) we are publishing (tentatively planned for a late-2012 release, schedule TBD), and is looking for a little financial help to enable him to really buckle down on it. Slide him some cash and he will reward you with a drawing or somethin'.