Things are gettin' trippy over at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Artas they recently kicked off a set of tandem exhibits, “Us Versus Them” and “Masters of Collective Reality,” curated by Phoenix-based artist Jon Haddock.
• List: For The Economist, Picturebox publisher and our sometime editorial collaborator Dan Nadel names his picks for the best comics of 2010: "Tim Hensley’s Wally Gropius was maybe my favourite graphic novel of the year, and I’m still trying to figure out just what exactly it is. Drawn and written in the graphic idioms of throwaway 1960s comic books such as Richie Rich and Archie, Wally Gropius is about an angst-ridden, dumbfounded millionaire, looking for love in a lopsided modernist space fraught with emasculation, poverty, rock jingles and other things that make grown men cry."
• Review: "And after spending the last two days plowing through this majestic slab of crucial, comically informative reviews [Destroy All Movies!!!], part of me envies [editors Zack Carlson & Bryan Connolly] in having done it first, while some other part wants to thank them for taking a bullet the rest of us don’t have to. [...] If you have any interest whatsoever in the topic you really cannot do without a copy of this book. If you’re like me, it will make you want to revisit some movies again, and search out some you’ve overlooked... In no uncertain terms, this book comes with my highest recommendations." – Jay Bodnar, Wednesday's Child
• Review: "The Littlest Pirate King is a strange and morbid comic. [...] The beautiful drawings of David B., made with thick and shaky strokes, are beautifully expressive. ...David B. did very well with this literary adaptation... [which] shows a mature and talented artist, exploring the versatility of his narrative." – Gustavo Guimaraes, Ambrosia (translated from Portuguese)
• Analysis: At Death to the Universe, Matt Seneca examines a panel of Rory Hayes's comics as exemplary of Hayes's work: "Rory Hayes is one of those artists, one whose sequences of pictures build stories out of their own bizarre alien logic, the consistency of their utter weirdness giving the reader just enough of a solid platform for understanding to take root in." (Via Spurge)
• Coming Attractions (Audio): Hosts Phil and Charlito preview some of our upcoming 2011 releases on the latest episode of the Indie Spinner Rack podcast
Today's Online Commentary & Diversions from Publishers Weekly, John Porcellino and other sources:
• List:Publishers Weekly Comics Week posts the results of their Fifth Annual Critics Poll, with 5 of our titles placing with 2 votes each (and a bunch of honorable mentions):
"Castle Waiting Volume 2by Linda Medley... The simplest actions — moving into another room, raising a child — are enlivened by being placed in an exceptionally illustrated fantasy environment, full of unusual outcasts who've formed a family. The cast is immensely appealing, both visually and through well-written dialogue. [...] Always a pleasurable read underlined by a genius level of artistic skill." – Johanna Draper Carlson
"A Drunken Dream, Moto Hagio [...] Beautiful, gripping and delightfully weird, reading this book you can see her fingerprints all over shojo manga as we know it. At the same time it works as a solid refutation of the old canard that shojo is nothing but sparkly 14 year-olds with love-angst and magical powers." – Kate Fitzsimons
"High Soft Lisp, Gilbert Hernandez... Rosalba 'Fritz' Martinez is one of the loopier characters from Hernandez's expansive Love and Rockets universe, but her ditzy, oversexed antics are peppered with poignant moments of loneliness and longing. As always, Hernandez sticks a beating heart at the center of his raunchy pulp adventures." – Jason Persse
"Love and Rockets: New Stories #3, The Hernandez Brothers... Los Bros. Hernandez show they are still at the peak of their cartooning form. In 'Browntown' Jaime mines family history, cruelty and the hinted-at pasts of his well known cast for an unforgettable story of innocence lost." – Heidi MacDonald
"Weathercraft, Jim Woodring... Jim Woodring first hit his bullseye so long ago, and has been splitting his own arrow right down the middle so many times, that he's easy to take for granted. Don't. Weathercraft is a magnificent and slightly wicked little book: a whimsical farce about some of the nastiest, darkest metaphysical stuff there is, a banquet for the eyes that starts growing tendrils once it's inside you." – Douglas Wolk
• List: Also at Publishers Weekly, Moto Hagio's A Drunken Dream and Other Stories is selected by Kai-Ming Cha for Critic's Picks: Manga in 2010: "Most of shojo manga today are derivative of Hagio and her contemporaries — and pale in comparison. This collection of stories takes from the oeuvre of Hagio, one of the first in a pioneering generation of manga to be created by women."
• List:John Porcellino's Favorite Comics of 2010 include some of our older books:
"Supermen!: The First Wave of Comic Book Heroes 1939-41 ... What happens when you throw a bunch of sometimes-talented, always-desperate cartoonists in a room and force them to churn out page after page after page of comics at a deviously inhuman rate? [...] Oh my Lord. This sooper-fun and enjoyably bizarre collection of early 'Pre-Code' superhero comics features work by Jack Kirby, Basil Wolverton, Will Eisner, Fletcher Hanks, and Jack Cole, among many more lesser-known artists..."
"Abandoned Cars by Tim Lane... [Lane's] excellent, down and out, Beat-inspired tales of post-war/modern day America are unique to the form, and his grappling with what he calls the 'Great American Mythological Drama' yields some of the most literate, stark, and surreal comics I've ever read. [...] Great book."
"Where Demented Wented: the Art and Comics of Rory Hayes... The comics themselves, though undeniably crude in the early years, have a rock solid EC-inspired prose style, which when combined with the brutal/cute drawings makes for some compelling reading. As time goes on, Hayes' imagery becomes more and more refined, and there are pages in here that are just simply beautiful. A real surprise, and a book that kept me thinking for days afterward."
"Caricature by Dan Clowes... Reading [these stories], I was immediately taken back to the good old glory days of Alternative American Comics. I remember reading stories like 'Immortal, Invisible' and 'Blue Italian Shit' with my jaw hanging open... you could feel the boundaries of comics expanding with each panel. These particular comics remain some of my favorites of all time."
• Review: "The story itself is absolutely insane. [...] There's no real rhyme or reason to the proceedings, and that's a big part of the fun. You don't know what outrageous scenario will greet you at the end of the next page. [...] Millionaire keeps his foot on the gas and writes with the spirit of Chuck Jones and the rest of Termite Terrace lurking in his pen. [...] If you're looking for madcap action, Billy Hazelnuts and the Crazy Bird should be right up your alley. It certainly was for me." – Rob McMonigal, Panel Patter
• Plug: Illustrator Eric Orchard shares his love for the work of Jaime Hernandez: "There's an unbelievable charm to his characters and an intoxicating rhythm to his panels. They are some of the best, most enjoyable comics to come out in the last thirty years."
• Anecdote: At Gapers Block, Ruthie Kott presents a funny story told to her by Paul Hornschemeier: "On two separate occasions I've had people argue with me that I am not me. There is apparently some existential comedian writing the script of my life for moments like these..." (Via Robot 6)
• Survey:The Beat's year-end/looking-forward survey of comics pros (part two) includes input from Megan Kelso and Shaenon Garrity calling our publication of Moto Hagio "the biggest story in comics in 2010"
• Coming Attractions: More reporting & commentary on our Carl Barks news from ICv2, Augie De Blieck Jr. at Comic Book Resources, and Graeme McMillan at Robot 6
• Review: "...Supermen!: The First Wave Of Comic Book Heroes 1939-41 pulls together some of the goofiest, most innocent, most violent superhero comics ever penned... The forematter (a lovely, insightful, nostalgic essay by Jonathan Lethem) and the afterword (a collection of bibliographic and historical notes on each strip) make perfect bookends for the hot stuff in the middle. This is pure and unadulterated Id, the kind of thing that inspired a moral panic about the corruption of the young. It's every bit as potent today." - Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing
• Review: "Miss Lasko-Gross takes us into the skankiest basement makeout sessions of our teenage despair in [A Mess of Everything]... Her fictional stand-in figures out how to work the system and achieves redemption through beautifully ugly comics that aptly capture the darker hallucinogenic melodramas of teenage geekdom." - Richard Gehr, The Village Voice
• Review: "[A] wild and woolly collection of pre-Superman supermen... As Jonathan Lethem notes in his introduction, our appreciation for the bizarre otherness of these characters in retrospect suggests that our contemporary icons might well appear no less 'totally opaque and infinitely awkward' to future readers." - Richard Gehr, The Village Voice (same link as above)
• Review: "Rory Hayes was nuts. I mean, really, truly insane... Hayes was tapping into a rich vein of paranoia and insanity that was truly disturbing... Rory Hayes work has the authentic voice of a true outsider artist, a genuine madman in a world full of posers... Where Demented Wented... is a fascinating collection and well presented. Recommended." - Colin Upton, Inkstuds
• Review: For The Savage Critics, Sean T. Collins says The Last Lonely Saturday by Jordan Crane is "pretty much the best love story in comics form I've ever come across... It's an intelligent, moving, beautiful, terrific little comic."
• Review: Rob Clough says that Beasts! Book 2 "mingles myths, warnings, fairy tales, correctives, and genuinely unexplained phenomena and allows its artists to run with them. The end result is a consistently beautiful, lovingly assembled book that forms a kind of metacommentary on the entire notion of the fantastic."
• Review: The SF Site's "Nexus Graphica" says R. Crumb & David Zane Mairowitz's Kafka is "a terrific guide to Kafka's life and work — Mairowitz deftly sums up Franz' family/Jewish/pre-Holocaust European experiences and influences, and Crumb's heavy inkings lend the exact tones of darkness to recreations of both Kafka's life — and work." (See sidebar)
• Preview: The First Post presents a slideshow of images from Humbug, saying "the short-lived Humbug [was] an exquisite satirical work that, over its 11 issues, routinely equalled MAD in its displays of creative genius... providing a level of trenchant satire that was almost unheard of at the time."
• Preview: Bryan Munn, in "hyping" The Complete Peanuts 1971-1972, states "Now that two whole decades of Peanuts have been reprinted in the deluxe hardcover format published by Fantagraphics and designed by Seth, we can really get a sense of what a huge achievement this project is and will continue to be for a generation."
We've been posting these as we've found them, but here's a (slightly OCD) alphabetical list of Fantagraphics titles and whose year-end lists that they've appeared on, for your handy reference. (Links will continue to be added as we find them.) Rankings appear in parentheses; no number means the list was unranked: