By the way, multiple belated hat tips to Robot 6, whose roundups of end-of-year links have been invaluable to the last few installments of Online Commentary & Diversions. On with the links:
• List:Publishers Weekly announced the results of their 2009 Comics Week Critic's Poll; among the top vote-getters are You'll Never Know, Book 1: A Good and Decent Man by C. Tyler ("I love this autobiographical family story as much for the way Tyler weaves between her own life and her father's, as for its painterly, illustrative panoramas of suburban neighborhoods and army scenes." – Sasha Watson) and Tales Designed to Thrizzle Vol. 1 by Michael Kupperman ("Milk and other liquids may come out your nose as you read one of the funniest comics ever put to paper. Kupperman's droll absurdism is matched by a stiff, woodcut-like art style that underplays the sometimes outre concepts. A comedy diamond." – Heidi MacDonald). Humbug by Harvey Kurtzman et al, Low Moon by Jason, Luba by Gilbert Hernandez, Supermen!: The First Wave Of Comic Book Heroes 1936-1941, West Coast Blues Jean-Patrick Manchette and Jacques Tardi, and You Are There by Jacques Tardi and Jean-Claude Forest all received single votes in the poll
• List: At comiXology, Tucker Stone counts down his top 25 Best Comics of 2009, with Grotesque #3 by Sergio Ponchione at #23 ("...every once in a while, I get a reminder how vast the world of comics really is. Grotesque — European, unusual, brilliant — was one of those, an experimental passport to another universe"), Ganges #3 by Kevin Huizenga at #7 ("...Ganges captured the thing that all of us spend a lifetime doing — thinking — and turned it into something deserving of examination") and, in the top spot, Prison Pit: Book 1 by Johnny Ryan ("Aggro, obscene, hilarious, compulsive: Prison Pit. It wasn't just the greatest comic of the year, it was one of those comics that operated like the end result of a math equation, a definitive answer to the question of what comics are, and what they should be...")
• List: Johnny Bacardi's Personal Best of the Decade includes Eightball #22 by Daniel Clowes
• Review: "Each [panel] almost vibrates with the frenetic, desperate energy of the characters as they try to pull off their cons. That energy explodes in the final pages, as the story comes to a dramatic but ambiguous conclusion. In the end, the work offers an homage to B-movies while standing out as a graphic novel. The Troublemakers will please long-term Hernandez fans. It also should serve as a good introduction to newcomers looking to jump into the Love and Rockets universe." – Publishers Weekly
• Review: "...Giraffes [in My Hair], a collection of anecdotes from Bruce Paley's teens and twenties on America's countercultural fringe, is a breezy read. ... Swain's art rarely calls attention to or gets in the way of itself, and in that it meshes seamlessly with Paley's deadpan 'here's what happened' narrative style, his reluctance to overstate or oversell the import of the anecdote reminiscent of Harvey Pekar's." – Sean T. Collins
• Review: "...[The Comics Journal] has reached issue 300 and is celebrating with a fascinating collection of creator-chats as industry tyros and giants come together to interview, share, bitch and generally shoot the breeze about graphic narrative: a tactic that makes this the most compelling read of the year for anyone truly interested in what we all do and why." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Review: "Fantagraphics Books continues its series devoted to chronologically packaging [Peanuts] and has not missed a step along the way. ... I’m pleased to inform that the latest edition, the twelfth in the series, is as lovingly curated as the first... [I]t is nice to know that one of the form’s greatest achievements is being held up as the accomplishment it really is." – Dw. Dunphy, Popdose
• Review: "[In Sam's Strip] Walker and Dumas clearly take pleasure in working in callbacks to classic comic strips... [and] many of the metatextual gags are funny and fun. ... Dumas’s drawings of classic comic-strip characters are excellent... The result is a frustrating, compelling curiosity: the soul of an underground comic trapped in the mortal coil of a Hi and Lois." – Shaenon Garrity, The Comics Journal
• Events:Star Clipper is sponsoring a screening of Ghost World at Schlafly Bottleworks in St. Louis tonight — oh jeez, in like half an hour! — and copies of the graphic novel and other Clowes books will be on sale
A few quick hits of Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "Hornschemeier obviously draws a lot of inspiration from Chris Ware, especially in terms of color scheme and alternating between naturalistic and iconic styles. There's a different level of emotional impact in his comics, however, a certain distance that reminds me more of what Daniel Clowes or Art Spiegelman do in their work. ... All and Sundry is less about the work itself and more about the artist as worker." – Rob Clough
• Review: "...Zak Sally's collection of his Recidivist material and other works [Like a Dog] was positively pugillistic in nature. Of course, the battle Sally was fighting was with himself and his place in the world, both as an artist and a person. ... The extended endnotes written by Sally were one of the most bracing but inspiring pieces of writing I've ever seen by an artist on their own work. It's a statement of purpose not just as an artist, but as a human being." – Rob Clough
• Review: "I recently bought [Sergio Ponchione's] Grotesque #2-3, which contained a two-part story, 'Cryptic City.' ... It’s a noir mystery crushed into a surrealistic adventure, and the two work together excellently under Ponchione’s imagination. ... It’s hard to ignore Ponchione’s gorgeous art in Grotesque #2-3, which is certainly part of their charm. ... At this point, I’m not sure what I’m hoping for more; additional issues of Grotesque, or other works from Ponchione translated into English. (Regardless, I’m running out and buying Grotesque #1 as soon as possible.) This is a beautifully off-kilter comic. Definitely check it out." – Greg McElhatton, Read About Comics
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).
• 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)
Online Commentary & Diversions updates resume next week. Off to Comic-Con tomorrow! I'll be Twittering from the show as much as I can.
• Preview: "Now Jason publishes a collection of his short, sharp works ...called Low Moon, in which his trademark anthropomorphic animals get into all sorts of trouble — including, in the story 'Emily Says Hello,' murder, revenge and sexual domination." - New York Magazine presents an exclusive five-page excerpt from Low Moon
• Review: "All of Jason’s tales in Low Moon play like a black comedy, tragic yet humorous. Maybe it’s his protagonists blank eyed stares or the fact the characters are all cute animals being put through some troubling things that give these outwardly simple and light cartoons a heavy feel. If you’re a comic fan looking for a change of pace from the tired summer/blockbuster/epic/crossover comic events then this one’s for you." - Mishka Bloglin
• Review: "What surprised me the most [about Prince Valiant Vol. 1: 1937-1938]... was... how much [Hal] Foster had brought me to care about these characters... [P]erhaps for the first time ever, we’re able to see just how detailed and elaborate Foster’s art really was... More importantly, though, was how well Foster set up his pages. His layouts draw the reader across the page from one panel to the next, often culminating in a truly impressive final panel... Prince Valiant was good all along. Who knew?" - Greg McElhatton, Read About Comics
• Review: "I mean, holy. Effing. Shit... Was [Fletcher] Hanks insane or otherwise mentally handicapped? Dunno, but as editor Paul Karasik points out in his meaty introduction [to You Shall Die by Your Own Evil Creation!], this was a man mean enough to kick his 4-year-old son down a flight of stairs... You’ll love how much you hate [these works]; you’ll hate how much you love them." - Rod Lott, Bookgasm
• Plug: "Boy, that Prince Valiant [Vol. 1: 1937-1938] hardcover looked great, didn’t it? The color is just stunning. The stories (what I’ve read so far, at least) are fun as well, with a nice mix of realism and fantasy. I’m looking forward to future volumes, both to see how Hal Foster’s style and Val’s character develop over the years." - Tom Bondurant, Robot 6
This coming week Kevin Huizenga will be delivering the hotly-anticipated Ganges #3, featuring insomnia and cops. Expect this one to be released just in time to premiere at SPX in late September, and then show up in stores in late October/early November. Here is a preview!
Next up, likely to be released toward the end of the year, is a double whammy of Niger #3 by Leila Marzocchi (check out the cover of this wild ecological fable), and the fourth and concluding installment of Ponchione's Grotesque (with another standalone story). Then Spring 2010 will, if everything goes well, see the release of the fourth issue of Igort's cartoonist-graphic-novel-a-clef Baobab; the fourth (and concluding) issue of Gabriella Giandelli's hard-to-pronounce magical apartment building story Interiorae; and the third issue of Zak Sally's otherworldly picaresque Sammy the Mouse.
Missing in action at this point, alas, are new issues of the Gipi series Wish You Were Here and Marti 's Calvario Hills, as both cartoonists are focusing on other work at this time, but we're keeping our fingers crossed there will be a new issue of David B.'s Babel sometime in 2010.
Of course, if you've missed picking up any of these issues in the past (including the already concluded three-issue series New Tales of Palomar by Gilbert Hernandez, Reflections by Marco Corona, and Insomnia by Matt Broersma), remember, any comic you haven't read yet is a new comic...
In the second half of the two-part "Cryptic City" epic, Professor Hackensack continues his battle against the Wicked Barons alongside Inspector Doppiofaccio, the mysterious Lady Puzzle, and an unexpected ally from beyond the grave — with the enigmatic Mr. O'Blique on the sidelines. This amazingly inventive work of surreal fantasy from one of Italy's hottest new talents is proving to be a sleeper hit!
The final issue of macabre master (and birthday boy!) Richard Sala's modern-day reimagining of the Snow White story told from the "Prince Charming" point of view, Delphine #4 brings our hero into an inevitable confrontation with unspeakable evil!
Italian artist Sergio Ponchione's series is becoming a cult hit in the U.S., and he returns with the eagerly-awaited Grotesque #3, containing the second half of the wildly surrealistic "Cryptic City" epic.
Both titles, part of our Ignatz Series of deluxe oversized comics, are now available for pre-order! They are scheduled to be in stock and ready to ship any day now and in stores approximately 4 weeks later (subject to change).
Don't miss the preview pages we've posted for each issue -- just click "View More Images" on each product detail page. Photo and video previews are still in the works -- watch this space.