The sweetest tea of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review:The Atlantic writes on The Heart of Thomas by Moto Hagio. Noah Berlatsky looks at it from every angle, "The boys' love genre, then, freed Hagio and her audience to cross and recross boundaries of identity, sexuality, and gender…Bodies and character flicker in and out, a sequence of surfaces, tied together less by narrative than by the heightened emotions of melodrama—jealousy, anger, trauma, desire, friendship, and love in the heart of Thomas."
• Plug: David Brothers and Comics Alliance posts a preview of The Heart of Thomas plus a few thoughts on Moto Hagio that works outside of his comfort zone. "What there is, though, isdrama. No -- it has melodrama…the sheer level of theatrical drama in this book is enough to keep a skeptic hooked…Heart of Thomas is a trip, and a good one. I wasn't expecting to enjoy it as much as I did, and it was nice to enjoy something outside of my usual comfort zones."
• Plug: Johanna Carlson of Comics Worth Reading is ready for the world to read The Heart of Thomas by Moto Hagio. "This solid hardcover contains the entire classic shojo series, and it’s a must-read for anyone interested in the development of the genre. It’s also surprisingly gripping in its own right…"
• Review: Chris Mautner interviews Jim Woodring's Problematic on Robot 6. "Problematic is both a stroll through Woodring’s unique imagination and an opportunity to see his working process" and Woodring thinks "having a pocket sketchbook on me at all times means fleeting impressions and ideas that might otherwise be lost are captured…Everything I draw is reality-based."
• Plug:BoingBoing is ready for Jim Woodring's Problematic to come out. "There are many reasons to be grateful to be alive, and owning this brand new facsimile edition of artist Jim Woodring's Moleskine sketchbooks is as good as any," says Mark Frauenfelder.
• Interview/Review:Publishers Weekly looks at 7 Miles a Second, and Grace Bello interviews artists James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook on writer David Wojnarowicz, the gay activist who wrote the comic before dying of AIDS-related complications. Romberger is quoted, "It really is so much about what David was about, channeling his anger into a statement…" "The gay experience is not only 'less invisible'—it’s on prime time TV. But the feral energy and raw hunger in 7 Miles a Second still resonate" states Bello.
• Review: Jason Sacks of Comics Bulletin presents 20 Facts and Opinions on Joe Kubert's Weird Horrors & Daring Adventures, edited by Bill Schelly. "Schelly and the always sterling Fantagraphics production team do a nice job of preserving the look and feel of these comics…the master cartoonist was equally at home doing broad humor as intense action/adventure as well as lighter, Archie-style teen humor."
• Review:Comics Alliance and Caleb Goellner continues their Best of 2012 series with Prison Pit Book 4by Johnny Ryan. "It was like looking at a baby book of bad ideas from boyhood as an adult who'd learned to function in polite society…it's bliss to kick back and watch humankind's most immature impulses play out in the safety of Ryan's Prison Pit."
• Review:The Weekly Crisis lists its Top 10 books of 2012 and Johnny Ryan's Prison Pit Book 4 lands at #2. Taylor Pithers states "he is interested in is fighting and hyper violence, which to be fair, would be more acceptable to the masses if it was drawn by Ivan Reis or another one of Geoff Johns' collaborators…Honestly, there isn't a comic that has given me more belly laughs in my entire life."
• Review: Comiks Debris posts its Best of 2012 books and Johnny Ryan'sPrison Pit Book 4 comes in as #8.Marc-Oliver Frisch writes "structurally, Prison Pit reminds me a lot of Jarmusch's The Limits of Control… The artwork looks ugly, crude and perfunctory. The characters eat, shit, fuck and, most of all, fight their way through the book…It's one mean, sick motherfucker of a comic, and I can't wait what happens next."
• Plug: Tucker Stone on The Comics Journal rates his top comics of 2012. Prison Pit Book 4by Johnny Ryan comes in at 18. "…it’s hard to explain how intense the surprise was for a follower of Angry Youth and Ryan’s humiliation comics to open that first Prison Pit…"
• Review:Delphine by Richard Sala gets reviewed on Comic Book Resources. Kelly Thompson claims, "One part comic book and one part fever dream…Rare is the opportunity that I'm so engaged I consider yelling at an inanimate object such as a book…Delphine is also a nice contrast to the unrelentingly bright and happy fairy tales that are so often seen when it comes to modern reinterpretations of those early dark tales."
• Review:The New York Journal of Books thumbs through Spacehawk by Basil Wolverton. "Basil Wolverton rises to the occasion and gives the reader a detailed and hilarious look at megalomania while throwing in some fantastic aerial fight scenes…Fantagraphics Publishing brings Wolverton’s art to the reader in as detailed and perfect a form as possible. Each wave of space, every geometric shape and all the incredibly ugly aliens look better than they ever have in their entire lives," writes Mark Squirek.
• Review: Crave Online looks at Spacehawk by Basil Wolverton. "This is the medium when there were no rules, no event series and no giant corporations standing watch over what the creators were doing. If you love the Golden Age, science fiction and adventure, nothing compares to the world Basil Wolverton put together for Spacehawk," writes Iann Robinson.
• Review: The Weekly Crisis lists its Top 10 books of 2012 and Josh Simmon's The Furry Trap ranks as #1. Taylor Pithers writes, "The Furry Trap is pure exploitation; violent, disgusting, and bound to make you feel uncomfortable but it also does what the best fiction is meant to, it stays with you long after you have put the book down…Simmons is a cartoonist of the highest caliber. This is not a book for the faint hearted, but if you can stomach it will be a true experience."
• Review:NPR and Glen Weldon write on Books of 2012 they haven't told you about. Heads or Tails by Lilli Carré "The whole collection has the feel of a dream in which remembering how to fly is as simple as forgetting that you can't."
• Review: Noel Murray and The A.V. Club write about the Top 10 Fiction books of 2012. Heads or Tails comes in at #7. "Lilli Carré’s stories are like dreamy what-ifs that take the familiar and tweak it."
• Plug: Whitney Matheson of USA Today's Popcandy mentions her favorite things including Heads or Tailsby Lilli Carré: "…a lovely volume from one of my favorite cartoonists that includes several beautifully strange short stories. I'm a longtime fan and even have a framed Carre print hanging in the baby's room."
• Interview:The Comics Journal interviews Ron Regé, Jr. on The Cartoon Utopia, evolving comics and more. Regé on his book, "People should use bibilomancy—randomly opening to a page—to access the information if they’d like. Nothing in the book tells you to treat it that way, but I think people will get the idea anyway."
• Interview (audio): Erik Davis and Expanding Mind interview Ron Regé, Jr. on the radio about The Cartoon Utopia! Adventure indeed.
• Review:Comics Bulletin and Jason Sacks investigate Blacklung. "Chris Wright seems to channel Melville or Conrad in this book as he explores the uniquely idiosyncratic world that he creates…nobody has ever created characters that look like the characters in this book, with their strange faces and lumpy, malformed bodies…This slim graphic novel is a dense read unlike anything else you've read in comics."
• Review: Noel Murray and The A.V. Club write about the Top 10 Fiction books of 2012. Athos in America is #5. "Jason’s blank-faced animal-headed characters reveal unexpectedly deep passion via deadpan tales of dislocation."
• Review: Sonia Harris of Comics Book Resources places Love and Rockets: New Stories #5 by Jaime Hernandez and Gilbert Hernandez as #5 of her Top 16 Books of 2012. Harris says,"Watching these people’s lives change on the page, along with the gradual evolution of the Hernandez brother’s art and writing is the closest thing to real life created in a comic book. Nothing on the screen could ever compare to the life and complexity these two men breathe into their characters year after year with such consistent quality and affection."
• Plug: Tucker Stone on The Comics Journal rates his top comics of 2012. Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez have cause to celebrate as Love and Rockets:New Stories #5makes it at #13. "It was great, and of course it was, because it’s them, and it was great for all the same reasons you’d expect it to be…"
• Review:NPR and Glen Weldon write on Books of 2012 they haven't told you about like Wandering Son by Takako Shimura. "Wandering Son is not the kind of manga in which a happy ending is guaranteed… You'll thus be grateful for the moments of realistic, untempered joy Shimura allows her two protagonists here, as you wait with nervous anticipations for the travails that lie ahead for them…"
• Review:Manga Bookshelf recounts its Favorite Manga Series of 2012 including Wandering Son by Takako Shimura. "This series about two transgender children in modern-day Japan has been a favorite since it debuted last year thanks to its delicate, truthful storytelling and understated artwork…Its most recent volume (three) goes a bit darker and deeper, only heightening my interest in the series" says Melinda Beasi.
• Review: Noel Murray and The A.V. Club write about the Top 5 Archival books of 2012. Harvey Kurtzman's Corpse on the Imjin! landed at #1. "Kurtzman book is especially stunning, almost like a coffee-table art-book combined with a literary collection…an anthology with a strong individual perspective that tries to tell the truth about what war is like from the point of view of the people on both sides of the battlefield."
• Review: Noel Murray and The A.V. Club write about the Top 5 Archival books of 2012. Ernie Bushmiller's Nancy Is Happy: Complete Dailies 1946-48: "bristle-headed Nancy and poor slob Sluggo inadvertently irritate the grown-ups in their lives, in scenarios that Bushmiller illustrated with absurd visual gags—so basic that anyone, anywhere, at any time, could get the joke."
• Review: Nick Gazin of VICE has a pretty fuckin' fancy (his words) edition of The Clouds Above by Jordan Crane. "Jordan Crane is a cartoonist with supreme abilities. He's great at making lines, hand text, and backgrounds and stuff…This is beautifully colored also. Did I mention Jordan Crane's great color sense? His colors are good."
• Review: Steve Donaghue enjoys Prince Valiant Vol. 1 by Hal Foster on Open Letters Monthly. "The ambition becomes most emphatic the more you scrutinize the work. Foster often said he put in between 50 and 60 hours a week on creating the strip, and it shows in these magnificent reproductions, done in a sturdy hardcover with oversized pages and entirely restored colors and shadings."
• Plug:Record Collector magazine (UK) picks Listen, Whitey! by Pat Thomas as one of the top 12 books of 2012. "A socio-polictal account of American racial struggles...an extraordinary study of the way the message of [the Black Panther] movement was recounted and defined on vinyl. "In-depth" doesn't begin to describe it."
• Plug: Tucker Stone on The Comics Journal rates his top comics of 2012. Dungeon Quest 3 by Joe Daly makes the mark at 17. "in times like these, with sandwiches like mine, you have to root for the one who brung you, and that’s dick jokes. Dungeon Quest had so many of them, and they were all wonderful."
The most symmetrical cake slice of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review:Publishers Weekly occasionally lets smart and famous people recommend books. Jeopardy Master Ken Jennings "skipped the obvious Marjane Satrapi and Alison Bechdel entries in favor of this lesser-known three-volume masterpiece, about Tyler’s complicated relationship with her distant dad, a World War II vet. With her playful, fluid brush line and busy patchwork of watercolor woodgrain, Tyler’s art looks like the past feels." Carol Tyler's complete series You'll Never Know is available.
• Review:Booklist Online cooks up a review from some Pogo (The Complete Syndicated Comic Strips Vol. 2: "Bona Fide Balderdash"). Ian Chipman writes, "[Walt Kelly's] hallmarks of deft wordplay, daft swamp critters, and poisonously sharp sociopolitical satire are in full blossom here. The highlight is the 1952 election season that saw Pogo’s first and entirely reluctant presidential run and the birth of the “I Go Pogo” slogan. Mimicking “I Like Ike. . . A must for all collections of comic-strip history."
• Plug:Forces of Geek throws out some good gift recommendations for kidslike Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge "Only a Poor Old Man"by Carl Barks. "Comic books have always been an excellent gateway into reading, and when it comes to smart, imaginative and engaging, you don't have to go much further than Carl Barks. . . What better way to introduce your own Huey, Dewey or Louie to comics?"
• Review:Paste Magazines's 10 Best Collections of 2012 include two Fantagraphics titles. Hillary Brown loved Young Romance, by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby edited by Michel Gagné who "painstakingly restored them (without making them look exactly new, thus giving the book the feel of a vintage compilation that just happens to be in amazing shape). . . Simon and Kirby tried to bring as much excitement to primarily psychological and interpersonal goings-on as to punching and flying." And this might be the last year anything by Carl Barks is on the list, "We’ll just grant it permanent honorary status as the best of the best, like when John Larroquette removed himself from Emmy consideration after winning four straight for Night Court. . . [Walt Disney's Donald Duck "A Christmas for Shacktown] once again proves Barks to be one of the finest draftsmen and storytellers we’ve ever had." Well put, Garrett Martin.
• Plug:The Scotsman lists some of the Best of 2012 as told by the best scotsman. Withered Hand's singer/songwriter Dan Willson has eyes only for Ron Rege, Jr. and states, "[The] Cartoon Utopia , his magnum opus, is quite a head-trip. Thousands of very dense little drawings and words resemble a psychedelic illuminated manuscript peppered with themes of spiritual redemption and good versus evil. It’s a very unusual and beautiful work."
• Plug: From Boing Boing's list of the Best Damn Comics of 2012, compiled by Brian Heater. On Ron Rege Jr.'s The Cartoon Utopia , "The first esoteric text of the new century. The harbinger of the New Aeon. This book will be a staple of Esoteric Lore for millennia to come."
• Plug:Boing Boing makes my job easy by providing the Best Damn Comics of 2012. Compiled by Brian Heater, a lot of creative people offered up their favorite books of the year. Nick Abadzis thinks Kolor Klimax (edited by Matthias Wivel), "feels startling and vital to me and features a wide variety of styles, each as absorbing as all the others contained within these pages. I don't think I've enjoyed an anthology as much as this one in years."
• Plug: From Boing Boing's list of the Best Damn Comics of 2012, compiled by Brian Heater. Box Brown on Barack Hussein Obama, "Steven Weissman does stuff with actual analog comic materials that most dudes can't even do with photoshop." Jeffrey Brown chimes in on BHO, "Strange, funny and beautiful. Weissman reinvents his comics with the kind of book I wish I would make." Will Dinksi agrees, "Barack Hussein Obama is pretty much my favorite book of the year. . . I get a better appreciation for Weissman's craft in the printed collection where it can feel like you're actually looking at the finished artwork." Mari Naomi says,"I just love what this book is. If I didn't know better, I wouldn't even recognize this as Weissman. And I like that."
• Review:Paris Review checks out The Last Vispo, edited by Nico Vassilakis and Crag Hill. Nicole Rudick states,"it makes sense that in visual form poetry would elicit a kind of motion, an unfolding over the space of a page, and that even its sound would be voiced as a series of discoveries. Movement disrupts the continuity of a sentence, a phrase, a word. And language, unsettled, is unbound."
• Plug: From Boing Boing's list of the Best Damn Comics of 2012, compiled by Brian Heater. Box Brown continues to wax poetic on Josh Simmons' The Furry Trap, "Funny, even as it makes your hair stand on end and your skin start to crawl... Horror comics that gash their way below the surface."
• Plug: From Boing Boing's list of the Best Damn Comics of 2012, compiled by Brian Heater. Shaenon K. Garrity says that The Heart of Thomas by Moto Hagio "is a book I've been awaiting for over ten years, and it exceeds my expectations."
• Plug: From Boing Boing's list of the Best Damn Comics of 2012, compiled by Brian Heater. Nate Powell on Interiorae by Gabriella Giandelli, is "just what I look for in a narrative: patient, dreamy, full of seemingly endless layers of shadow, slowly revealing the sweetness inside the rotten, all within the confines of a single high-rise apartment building, surrounded by snow and static."
• Review:Slate finds themselves choosing Heads or Tails, going for broke. Dan Kois says, "Lilli Carré’s short stories are dreamy, unlikely, and unsettling. What transforms the stories from nightmares to fables is Carré’s artwork, which varies with each story. . ."
• Review:Page 45 looks at Heads or Tails by Lilli Carré. "The art reminds me a little of Lynda Barry and the flow of the pages reminded me a little of Walt Holcombe. . .I recently recommended this book to a customer who named their favourite film as Amelie (good choice!) precisely because it has that feeling of whimsy about it."
• Plug: From Boing Boing's list of the Best Damn Comics of 2012, compiled by Brian Heater. Jeremy Tinder on Heads or Tails by Lilli Carré, "A nice encapsulation of many of the ways Lilli has been pushing herself both narratively and stylistically over the last few years. If only there was a way to squeeze her animation in there too." Will Dinksi comments on Heads or Tails by Lilli Carré, "Beautiful artwork. Thoughtfully paced. "Of The Essence" is one of the best comic book short stories I've ever read."
• Plug: From Boing Boing's list of the Best Damn Comics of 2012, compiled by Brian Heater. Robert Kirby on No Straight Lines edited by Justin Hall, "Long overdue, this beautifully-produced, sharply edited retrospective may usher in a new era of respect and recognition for a long-neglected realm of the alt-comics world."
• Review:Nate's Broadcast enjoyed The Hypo by Noah Van Sciver in addition to the recent film, Lincoln, and book America Aflame. "Van Sciver’s contribution to the Lincoln mythology is perfect for those who like their heroes a little troubled and messy, but good at their core- not a bad way to interpret the American ideal."
• Plug: From Boing Boing's list of the Best Damn Comics of 2012, compiled by Brian Heater. Will Dinski continues with The Hypo. "[Noah] Van Sciver is pretty prolific, but this is his best work to date. The line art just drips with anguish." Brian Heater thinks it "puts the cartoonist's brimming angst to a different use entirely, in a book that does precisely what a good piece of historical non-fiction should: finding a fascinating way to tell a story we were convinced we already knew."
• Review: Blacklung by Chris Wright is whittled on by Tucker Stone at TCJ. It's called "the big, trippy brother to Drew Weing’s Segar influenced Set To Sea. . . . [and] Gore saturates this comic. . . Brutality for its own sake is the point of some entertaining movies, no reason it can’t be the point of some entertaining comics as well."
• Review: On Filth and Fabulations, Jeppe Mulich states that Chris Wright's "[Blacklung is] not a work of splatter punk or mindless gore, but rather an engaging, breathless, and humorous tale of the dregs of the sea, including a colorful assortment of pirates and madmen, quite clearly drawing inspiration from both Melville, Stevenson and Peckinpah."
• Review: Paste Magazine reviews Charlie Brown's Christmas Stocking by Charles M. Schulz. "Seeing this work isolated and expanded only reinforces the sheer timelessness and brilliance inherent; Schulz was a master of mood and line in equal measure. . . it’s some of the finest nostalgia porn you can put under the tree," quips Sean Edgar.
•Review:Pheonix New Times unwraps their present early and Jason P. Woodbury interviews Nat Gertler on Charlie Brown's Christmas Stocking by Charles M Schulz. "[Schulz] had done a Christmas book, Christmas is Together-Time, using red and green," Gertler says, explaining the minimal color palette. "We wanted to keep that simplicity and Christmas-sense in there." The stable of Schulz characters transcend fads and time because as Gertler points out "It's not the way kids talk, but they way they feel is the way that kids feel."
• Plug:Drawn blog tops off another the Best of 2012 list with some Ernie Bushmiller. John Martz points out, "Nancy seems to be a love-it-or-leave-it strip, and I am firmly in the Love It camp. . . Often surreal, and always impeccably drawn, there is nothing quite like it. . . these books are a virtual masterclass in cartooning."
• Review: From Boing Boing's list of the Best Damn Comics of 2012, compiled by Brian Heater. Tom Kaczynski on Ernie Bushmiller's Nancy is Happy, "The minimalism of the art, the quirky humor, the amazing consistency, it all started with these strips."
• Review: Getting ready for the hardback release of Delphine by Richard Sala, Carrie Cuinn of SF Portal reviews the tale complete with "dark duotone inking style, little dialogue, and gothic, shadowy, art. . . Overall I think that Sala’s retelling of that well-known love story is affectingly tragic. . . It is, in a word, creepy."
• Review: If MTV Geek knows about The End of the Fucking World then the secret is out: Charles Forsman is amazing! "[It] pulls you in like no other comic this year. Stunning in its simplicity and brave in its subject matter. Charles Forsman is a future force. . . [it] is like stumbling onto the ultimate secret in comic books, but based on how great TEOTFW is, it won't be much a secret longer."
• Review: Ashley over at Bibliophibien looks at Wandering Son series by Shimura Takako, "While the story is focused on transgender topics, I think that this is a wonderfully moving coming-of-age story and captures the complexities of sexual identity, friendships, and family that teens face."
• Review: Rick Klaw at SF Site enjoys the glossy glory of Action! Mystery! Thrills!, edited by Greg Sadowski. "As in his previous volumes. . . Sadowski supplies copious end notes and annotations. Though this time, the information additionally reads as an entertaining history of early comics. . . Sadowski once again delivers an essential book for anyone with an interest in comics history."
• Plug: John McMurtrie of SF Gate (San Francisco Gate) lists Listen, Whitey! by Pat Thomas as one of the Music Books to Buy of 2012.
The luckiest Powerball ticket of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review:Drawn's John Martz is ready for Heads or Tails. "Lilli Carré is one of those cartoonists who has been putting out plenty of great work. . . She’s a master of short stories, so this collection is a welcome addition to my bookshelves. Rainbow Moment, a smartly-crafted story of nested memories all told in different colour palettes is the stand out work, and worth the price of admission alone."
• Review: John Martz of Drawn looks at Barack Hussein Obama. "Steven Weissman has been posting his odd comic strip, named after and starring a Bizarro-Universe version of Barack Hussein Obama . . . and it quickly became one of my favourite comics online. . . Obama’s re-election, if anything, hopefully means another four years of this strange and delightful oddity."
• Plug: On Librairie D + Q, staffer Helen lists Wandering Son Vol. 3 in her picks for 2012. "Shimura Takako treats her two young, trans* protagonists (or an approximation of "trans*", in the context of Japanese gender politics and identities) with gentleness, but does not fall into the trap of painting an overly rosy picture of their experience . . . while [they navigate] the general difficulties and anxieties of tween-hood."
• Plug: Maria Popova creates her 10 Best Design Books of 2012 and reiterates her love of Significant Objects on Brain Pickings. " 'The universe is made of stories, not atoms,' poet Muriel Rukeyser famously remarked. Hardly anyone can back this bombastic proclamation with more empirical conviction than [editors] Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn."
• Review:Geekrocker looks at Gabriella Giandelli's Interiorae. Wee Claire says, "Giandelli's pale ghostly illustrations reflect the sombre, mysterious mood Giandelli skilfully creates. This isn't a story about great feats of human strength or otherworldly adventures, this is a simple tale about real human lives.. . . Interiorae shows us that if we look hard enough, there's a little bit of magic waiting around every darkened corner."
• Plug:Chris Butcher recommends you pre-order 7 Miles a Second. "James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook do a phenomenal job at bringing [writer David Wojnarowicz's] story to life, and this is a vital and important piece of gay history that had been denied to me as a gay teen, and which has been out of print for far too long."
• Plug:Boing Boing posted their 2012 Gift Guide and included two of our books again, Is That All There Is?by Joose Swarte. "This anthology of Swarte's alternative comics from 1972 showcases his famous clean-line style that makes reading his work a pleasure." Mark Frauenfelder also includes Joe Kubert's Weird Horrors that showcases "his versatility in a variety of genres, including horror, humor, and romance."
• Review: Avid fan and writer Benjamin Herman rereads Love and Rockets, while making some great conclusions on the way. "[Duck Feet] was my first real exposure to Gilbert’s stories of Luba and the denizens of the Latin American village of Palomar, and I really enjoyed it. Gilbert’s writing was full of character, containing a distinctive voice, his artwork imbued with real atmosphere. . . Gilbert expertly crafted an almost epic tale that spans across a generation, giving us very real, flawed, dysfunctional characters." For Jaime's work "one of the key elements of Jaime’s stories is the process of growing up, of maturing, the struggle to become an adult and leave childhood behind. Maggie and Hopey both have to face the choice of pursuing long-term adult relationships or continuing teenage flings."
The spendiest debit card of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Interview:Robot 6 and Tim O'Shea interview Chris Wright about Blacklung. Wright answers, "the characters in Blacklung, particularly Brahm, are wrapped up in these hellish cycles, of destruction, and grief, and that quote seemed, not so much to sum up the philosophical point of view of the book, but to act dynamically with it, and become part of it’s dialogue. How responsible are we really for our own fates, and how much of what we become, and what we experience is beyond our influence."
• Review:Anime News Network looks at The Heart of Thomas by Moto Hagio. Jason Thompson writes " . . this story isn't about same-sex attraction and social prejudice as much as it's about love itself; at heart, this is a manga about spiritual love between two souls. . . The Art Nouveau artwork and the prose-poetry that accompanies it, the dream sequences, the images of ghosts and doubles, all add to a feeling of unreality. Hagio's work often approaches surrealism. . ."
• Review: On Manga Worth Reading, Johanna Draper Carlson reviews The Heart of Thomas by Moto Hagio. "It all felt strange and foreign. . . but I kept turning pages, hoping for these children to find more settled hearts. The question of how much responsibility someone else’s feelings for you place on you is a universal one, never to be answered, but I enjoyed reading about these young men dealing with the problem and its consequences."
• Plug:MTV Geek puts The Heart of Thomas on its Manga Lovers List. Brigid Alverson says "one of the first boys-love manga and a masterpiece in its own right. Translated by manga scholar (and friend of Moto Hagio) Matt Thorn, this manga is complete in one single, oversized volume." Stumptown Trade Review adds "Fantagraphics is not normally known for publishing manga. So, when they do choose to publish a manga graphic novel it is worth noting. The Heart of Thomas is no exception."
• Review:Experiments in Manga writes a thankful note for Shimura Takako's Wandering Son series, "I needed a story like Wandering Son growing up. I've only recently realized how crucial and important it is for young people to have characters that they can personally identify with in the media that they watch, read, and play . . Ultimately Wandering Son isn't so much about issues [of sexuality and gender identity] as it is about people."
• Review:Castle Waiting #18 by Linda Medley is reviewed on Comic Book Resources. Kelly Thompson states, issue #18 "ties up that volume beautifully and puts the characters exactly where they need to be both for closure purposes and as a set up for future stories to continue at any time. . . Medley approaches these characters and ideas with a boundless creativity that never feels forced, instead there is an effortless element to how her stories unfold, natural and without true purpose."
• Interview:The Quietus interviews Joost Swarte on his new book,Is That All There Is? collecting his life in comics so far. Aug Stone states,"these are works to behold, to marvel at their beauty and composition, all presented with a good sense of fun. The backgrounds brim with amusing and interesting details, the stories themselves bursting with mishaps, mayhem, music, and sex."
• Review:Broken Pencil Magazine released their printed review of Is That All There Is? by Joost Swarte. "Taking visual cues from Tintin creator Hergé’s clean line style, Swarte added a healthy dose of 70s-style countercultural mores and boasted an incredible capacity for experimentation and playfulness that went above and beyond many of his peers," to quote Matthew Daley.
• Plug: In an nice history lesson and review of The Complege Pogo: Vol. 1-2 by Walt Kelly in the Washington Times, Michael Taube states, "Pogo was intellectual, thought-provoking, cynical, controversial and downright brilliant. It broke barriers and didn't fit into societal norms. You didn't even have to agree with Kelly's politics to respect his genius as an artist and a commentator."
Pogo” was intellectual, thought-provoking, cynical, controversial and downright brilliant. It broke barriers and didn’t fit into societal norms. You didn’t even have to agree with Kelly’s politics to respect his genius as an artist and a commentator.
Pogo” was intellectual, thought-provoking, cynical, controversial and downright brilliant. It broke barriers and didn’t fit into societal norms. You didn’t even have to agree with Kelly’s politics to respect his genius as an artist and a commentator.
• Review: Matthew Daley reviews Athos in America by Jason for Broken Pencil Magazine. He writes, "these stories can tread on some pretty dark, even bleak ground, and in the hands of a different artist, it could wear the reader down. However, the simple art and bright flat colours and the aforementioned deadpan characters make the bleakness a bit easier to take."
• Plug: A much looked-forward to release on Heroes Online is Tony Millionaire's Green Eggs and Maakies. Seth Peagler says, "Millionaire’s highly regarded for the way he combines classic strip cartooning (and fine line work) with subversive humor."
• Review: Rob Clough of High-Low profiles Paul Hornschemeier and his book Let Us Be Perfectly Clear. "There's a certain grimness and melancholy that's dominated his major works, but I always found his humorous pieces to be every bit as involving. . . What I like most about [Let Us Be] is its intricacy and the way it yo-yos back and forth between emotional distance and the immediacy of Dennis' unbalanced mind. . . I'll be curious to see what his newer comics will look like, and if we're due for another round of unbridled innovation from Hornschemeier."
• Review:Popeye by E.C. Seger gets the twice over by Roger Ash on Westfield Comics Blog. "I’ve only read the first two volumes so far, and they are fantastic and eye opening. This is a very different Popeye that what I knew. He’s still gruff and lovable, but spinach has nothing to do with his strength. . . He routinely survives stabbings and shootings and is a terror in the boxing ring. . ." and "Because of the size of the book, a whole week’s worth of dailies fit on one page. Due to their age, the quality of the reproduction of the strips can vary, but in general they look very nice."
• Plug:Comics Alliance's Best Art This Week compiled by Andy Khouri includes a little Richard Sala and Jaime Hernandez! Way to go, team.
• Plug: Ellen Forney touches on her time as a creator for Fantagraphics in a Publishers Weekly article by Grace Bello.
Serialized since December 2002 in Comic Beam Magazine, Shimura Takako's beautiful take on adolescence and growing up Wandering Son is celebrating its 10th year in Japan. With complex characters who discover they enjoy identifying as a different gender than their own, the story slowly evolves as Nitori and Takatsuki gain confidence. A quiet story that resonates deep with anyone who has felt different or been teased for seeming not manly or girly enough. Matt Thorn and Fantagraphics first made Wandering Son accessible in English in 2011 but we're speeding up the process! Volume 4 comes out at the beginning of the new year, followed by Volume 5 in June. Six will shortly follow, hopefully in time for the holidays.
The Wandering Son anime is available to watch for free at Anime News Network if you want a taste of the graphic novels. The beautiful watercolor-style of Takako is reflected in the treatment of the anime. Young middle-school students often openly describe what they want to learn throughout the school year, offer ways to help each other become the person they want to be in a refreshingly ernest way. The graphic novels are a to-die-for with pristine design and gorgeous Takako full-color character introductions. Sign up for a subscrption of Volumes 4-6 or check out your local library today! And eat a delicious cupcake to celebrate Wandering Son!
The fantastically newest Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review: Over at Read About Comics, Greg McElhatton cracks open a copy of Lewis Trondheim's newest English translation. "Ralph Azham Vol. Oneis a nice little surprise; what initially looks cute and fun is dark and enjoyable, and Trondheim’s gradual reveals of the story’s contents are strong enough that it makes reading the next volume a must. . . I’m definitely back for Book Two; this was a great deal of fun."
• Interview (audio): Robin McConnell of the Inkstuds podcast interviews Noah Van Sciver on The Hypo and his newest work online, Saint Cole on The Expositor.
• Interview:AV Club caught up with Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez during this year, the 30th Anniversary of Love and Rockets! Jaime could not see a future without Love and Rockets: "The only thing I can see in the future is I picture Love And Rockets number whatever way down the road and they have to explain: 'This special issue, Jaime died halfway through doing it. So there’s going to be some pages with just pencils on it and some blank pages. But we thought we owed it to him to finish it, to print it.' A half-issue and then, well, that’s it."
• Review: Steven Heller writes about Dal Tokyo by Gary Panter on The Atlantic: "Dal Tokyo might best be seen as a combination of nightmare, daydream, ramble, and sketch, with a decided stream-of-consciousness tone, which is not unlike Panter's own Texas lilting manner when talking. In fact, for all its eccentricity, Dal Tokyo is akin to a Texas tall tale."
• Plug (video): The short film Objects of Our Desire focuses on the project Significant Objects as part of the The Future of Story Telling series. The book is edited by Joshua Glenn and Rob Walker. “Stories are the foundation of what we do everyday,” Richelle Parham, the vice president and chief marketing officer of eBay.
• Review:Read About Comics and Greg McElhatton looked at Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge: Only a Poor Old Man by Carl Barks. "The more I see of Barks’ comics, the more I kick myself for having taken this long to read them. . . If you haven’t experienced Barks’ Duck comics yourself, I think this is a great a place as any to begin. Definitely check it out for yourself. Highly recommended."
• Review:Blog Critics's Sixy Minute Manga reviews and summarizes Shimura Takako's Wandering Son Vol. 2. Lesley Aeschliman states ". . . the more minimal and simplistic art works for the story being told in this series. . . I would recommend this manga series to readers who have an appreciation for literature that concerns LGBT issues."
• Review (audio):Deconstructing Comics podcast spend the full hour discussing A Drunken Dream and Other Stories. Tim Young and Kumar Sivasubramanian argue and agree on Moto Hagio's work in the book with stories that "dwelt on not fitting in, losing what you love, and other themes that could be depressing, but were usually expressed in innovative and compelling ways."
•Review: Gene Ambaum of Unshelved enjoys his read of Wilfred Santiago's 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente. Ambaum says, "I was intrigued how the author would fit his life story into a brief, illustrated book. It emphasized the major events that shaped his life, and the powerful, stark images made me feel like I experienced the tragic and poignant moments."
• Commentary:ComicBooked talks about the 90s and Fantagraphics' place within the context of pushing out music and the amazing album art of Charles Burns, Daniel Clowes and Peter Bagge.
Readers of Shimura Takako's Wandering Son series are among the most vocal and devoted fans we have, and to reward your loyalty we're pleased to offer a special discounted subscription on the next three volumes (4-6) with FREE domestic shipping (and discounted foreign shipping rates)! Or, if you prefer, you can pre-order this December's Vol. 4 and/or next June's Vol. 5 separately right now. We'll start posting previews of Vol. 4 next month, so be on the lookout for that.
The ink is still wet on these Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review: Andrew Wheeler of the Antick Musings rolls the dice with Dungeon Quest Vol. 3 by Joe Daly. "Dungeon Quest is so mellow and stoner-joyful that there's nothing to do but go along with it. . . it's an entirely amiable, perfectly cromulent wander through well-emulated quest-fantasy tropes, enlivened by cursing, drugs, and just a hint of sex."
• Review (audio):Factual Opinion with Tucker Stone, Joe McCullogh and Chris Mautner rattle on about Dungeon Quest from the 5 minute mark on. They love Daly's descriptions of his characters like Steve's bulkiness is a "vest of fat" and the fight scenes play out like manga. "The rules of the world operate around the rules of the quest. . ."Listen to many reasons on why Dungeon Quest is a fun read.
• Review: Round table review of Noah Van Sciver's The Hypo on Comics Bulletin . Danny Djeljosevic writes ". . . most people perceive Lincoln not as a person, but as a series of signifiers: a stovepipe hat, a beard . . . a figure we put that much emphasis on could use a re-injection of humanity, and it appears that Van Sciver is just the man for the job." Jason Sacks reiterates, "Van Sciver takes Lincoln off of Mt. Rushmore and puts him on a human level."
• Plug:Fritz the Cat by Robert Crumb makes the Top 10 Cats of Comics at Comics Bulletin. Jason Sacks says, "Fritz always depicted himself as the downtrodden, yet always came off as the only character in the story that seemed to have it at least somewhat together. . . Crumb held a mirror up to youth culture and all they caught were the dick jokes."
• Plug: Speaking of the man himself, Crumb answers questions on other people at Crumb Products.
• Review: Gene Ambaum of Unshelved rates Wandering Son Vol. 2 by Shimura Takako which explores the lives of middle school kids who come to realize they enjoy wearing clothes typically reserved for the opposite sex. "Even though Shuichi and Yoshino keep one another’s secrets, I felt their embarrassment when hanging out and trying to decide how to address one another / refer to each other. The story felt even more real when their teacher asked them to share their dreams and neither could."
The fully charged Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review:School Library Journal will happily be lending out copies of Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons to library patrons. Francisca Goldsmith says, "O’Connor’s viewpoint as a college student during the early years of World War II at an all-female Southern institution adds another layer of texture, too, for contemporary teen artists and observers of places and situations that fall outside popular media’s scope."
• Review: On Comics Worth Reading, Johanna Draper Carlson checks out Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Vol. 3: High Noon at Inferno Gulch by Floyd Gottfredson, edited by David Gerstein with Gary Groth. "While the strips are surprisingly entertaining to readers not used to such a vibrant version of the title character, I enjoy the supplemental material just as much. The introduction by Thomas Andrae puts the work in context and point out key observations that aid in getting more out of the comics."
• Review:AV Club thumbs through the finest of our collection. Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons, edited by Kelly Gerald, features "a Barry Moser introduction into how O’Connor used the medium and a Kelly Gerald-penned look at how O’Connor’s early life influenced her art. The Moser and Gerald pieces are so well-researched that they’d be worth reading even without the cartoons between them." Noel Murray continues onto Mort Meskin's Out of the Shadows, "Not tied down to any one character, Meskin was free to work in a variety of genres, most of which are represented here: jungle adventure, supernatural horror, westerns, science fiction, romance, crime, etc." The trip down comics-memory-lane makes at stop at Uncle Scrooge: Only a Poor Old Man by Carl Barks: "[the stories] are just as rich in their original form, packed with clever plans, narrow escapes, and a lead character who enjoys amassing and hoarding his huge fortune, even though it makes him a little nutty." On Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Vol. 3: High Noon at Inferno Gulch by Floyd Gottfredson, Murray points out, "[editors] Gerstein and Gary Groth have assembled the usual outstanding array of contextual material, including a Gottfredson-inspired Italian Donald Duck strip from 1937 that helped seed that country’s still-fertile contributions to Disney comics…"
• Review: Nick Gazin at Vice looksSexytime up and down. The Jacques Boyreau-edited collection is a mighty fun read because ". . . every one of the posters in this book is fascinating for one reason or another. It might just be that design is so ugly that even the lowest-level design from the 70s is better than the best of what anyone's making right now. . . Portable Grindhouse was a nearly-perfect book and so is this one."
• Plug:Comic Book Resources mentions the The Art of Joe Kubert edited by Bill Schelly and mainstream comics. Augie De Blieck Jr. says, "I learned a lot about Joe Kubert from Fantagraphics' biography on him that I read last fall. It immediately made me want to go buy some reprints of 50 year old DC material that I previously had no affection for." Kubert was a master and will be missed.
• Review:San Francicso Chronicle reviews No Straight Lines edited by Justin Hall. Charlie Wells writes, "Hall's book provides a striking example of how entwined the history and literature of the gay rights movement have been since the early days of the battle.
• Review:Chicago Tribune likes the premise of the Significant Objectseditedby Joshua Glenn and Rob Walker but was not bowled over by the micro-fiction. Christopher Borrelli said, " . . . attaching a story is partly the appeal of a farmer's market, a Happy Meal. The right back story for a brand such as Apple, the editors argue, helps build a phenomenon. . . A note about the physical book, itself a gorgeous, significant object. . ."
• Review: Recently found a Robot 6 review from SCAD cartoonig professor and cartoonist, Chris Schweizer, on Chris Wright's Black Lungbefore it was signed to Fantagraphics. According to Schweizer, his opinions still hold true: "It’s a graphic novel, both in its vernacular term and in a more literal sense, violent and horrible and poetic at the same time – the sort of thing McCarthy might write if he were more interested in pirates than cowboys or Appalachians."
• Plug: Torsten Adair posts on The Beat how to order and find those SPECIAL Halloween comics that your store may or may not give out for free. Buy a stack of 20 comics for $5 and this exclusive Spacehawk comic by Basil Wolverton can be yours! "You should offer to pay for them in advance, since the comics shop will most likely consider these unusual items, and be hesitant to place the order. Of course, if they’re a cool store, they are probably participating in Halloween ComicFest, and will be happy to add your order to their store order."
• Plug: Speaking of shopping, Johanna Draper Carlson gives some tips on finding that first volume of Wandering Son by Shimura Takako on Comics Worth Reading. Good news though, the second printing will arrive within the month!
• Plug: Tom Spurgeon gets worked up over the Daniel Clowes Reader on The Comics Reporter. Fantagraphics is releasing a "Ken Parille-edited book on Dan Clowes in early 2013. Ken Parille's stuff is routinely pretty great. . . Count me in."
The sweetest smelling Online Commentaries & Diversions:
•Review: Partially and fully-reviewed on Em & Lo and SUNfiltered respectively is new book Significant Objects by Joshua Glenn and Rob Walker. Em and Lo said, "The book also organizes the stories and objects into groups that will be more familiar to thrift-store shoppers, based on the items’ original intended use: novelty items, figurines, kitsch, toys, etc."
•Review:Detroit News takes a look at No Straight Lines, edited by Justin Hall. Eric Henrickson wrote, "If 'No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comics' isn’t the definitive look at the world of GLBT comics, it surely must come darn close. . . I knew there was a lot out there, but I was surprised at the depth of the genre — in sheer quantity and in quality. It’s also a great volume for comics historians."
•Review:Wandering Son, Volume 3 by Shimura Takako is reviewed on Experiments in Manga. Librarian Ash Brown says, "Shimura deals with her characters and with identity, particularly gender identity, with a tremendous amount of sensitivity. Wandering Son is one of the few comics that I have had the opportunity to read that has accomplished this as a fictional work rather than as a memoir." But that isn't all Wandering Son is about: "The fact that the characters aren't characters per se but actual individuals is one of Wandering Son's greatest strengths. Ultimately, the story isn't about the 'issues' surrounding personal identity so much as it is about the people themselves."
•Review: Hillary Brown of Paste Magazine examines Flannery O'Conner: The Cartoons, edited by Kelly Gerald. "Fantagraphics has done us a service of scholarship in publishing these early linocuts, executed for O’Connor’s high school and college newspapers, and the essay by editor Kelly Gerald that follows their reproduction makes some interesting connections to her later literary works, but most of them don’t stand on their own."
•Commentary:Drew Friedman visited MAD Magazine almost 40 years ago and wrote a little about his trip, picked up by Boing Boing.
•Plug: The MOST OCD-happy site of Hernandez Brothers mentions, Love & Maggie, lists the newest mentions of the month.
•Review:Pornokitsch goes WAY back to a sold-out Jules Feiffer illustrated novel, Harry, the Rat with Women. Jared says,"Everything is there and familiar, but somehow drawn and thin and somewhat ethereal; delicate but distorted." Now you know to get it when at Half-Price books!
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