Online Commentary & Diversions returns after a rare link-free day yesterday:
• Review: "I’ve read many gentle, nostalgic manga about school and growing up, and in many ways Wandering Son is not so different from the best of them... On another level, the very fact that it can be so quiet and casual and natural, and say all the things that it says, makes it a deeply impressive work. What Wandering Son says, above all, is that the kids are alright. Maybe they don’t believe it themselves right now. But they’ll make it through." – Shaenon Garrity, The Comics Journal
• Feature: One of our most frequently asked questions from fans is where to start with Jason. He has so many great books you can't really go wrong with any of them, but Robot 6's Chris Mautner offers some solid recommendations in his latest "Comics College" guide.
The fifth grade. The threshold to puberty, and the beginning of the end of childhood innocence. Shuichi Nitori and his new friend Yoshino Takatsuki have happy homes, loving families, and are well-liked by their classmates. But they share a secret that further complicates a time of life that is awkward for anyone: Shuichi is a boy who wants to be a girl, and Yoshino is a girl who wants to be a boy. Written and drawn by one of today’s most critically acclaimed creators of manga, Shimura portrays Shuishi and Yoshino’s very private journey with affection, sensitivity, gentle humor, and unmistakable flair and grace. Volume one introduces our two protagonists and the friends and family whose lives intersect with their own. Yoshino is rudely reminded of her sex by immature boys whose budding interest in girls takes clumsily cruel forms. Shuichi’s secret is discovered by Saori, a perceptive and eccentric classmate. And it is Saori who suggests that the fifth graders put on a production of The Rose of Versailles for the farewell ceremony for the sixth graders — with boys playing the roles of women, and girls playing the roles of men.
Wandering Son is a sophisticated work of literary manga translated with rare skill and sensitivity by veteran translator and comics scholar Matt Thorn.
Download a 20-page PDF excerpt of the entire first chapter (3.3 MB).
• Review: "This book in particular reprints a run where Mickey Mouse enters Pluto in a dog race and ends up getting mixed up with a banker who wants to foreclose on a friendly old couple, snooty society types, high-stakes gamblers and the mob. The mob, people. It's really great stuff, with a ton of adventure and action balanced out with the humor I was expecting, which really holds up even here in the next century, right down to the fun Vaudeville-style wordplay. I would've devoured this thing if I was a kid, and while it's ostensibly a teaser for the bigger reprint volumes -- which, at $30 for 300 pages are looking like an even better deal than I thought -- it's awesome for all ages." – Chris Sims, Comics Alliance
• Review: "Joe Daly's comics are an unequivocal delight. The second volume of his role playing/video game send-up and tribute, Dungeon Quest, is a visual feast from beginning to end. Of course, this feast may be mere junk food, but his sheer commitment to the adventurous reality that his characters encounter makes the reader care about the most ridiculous of scenarios.... While there are a number of alt-comics fantasy series being published these days (with Trondheim & Sfar's Dungeon the best), Daly's fusion of underground comics sensibilities with the blunt directness of the video game playing experience is unique and leaves the reader wanting more." – Rob Clough, High-Low
• Interview: At Under the Radar, Jeremy Nisen talks to Eye of the Majestic Creature creator Leslie Stein: "Right now I pretty much write out the comic like a movie script and then just attack the page. As I go along I change some of the dialogue or add different sequences I've thought of to enhance the story, like if there's something I draw in a background on a whim, I might like it and incorporate it into the story. This way it's exciting as I go along, and not just laborious drawing. As for the concept, it just pops into the old bean. Magic!"
• Plug: In a pre-TCAF Q&A at the National Post, comic artist Niki Smith talks about her most-anticipated comic of the year: "Wandering Son is debuting at TCAF (from Fantagraphics) and I absolutely cannot wait to add it to my collection and push it on everyone I know. It’s a wonderful story of gender and sexuality and growing up."
• Review: At Comix Cube Kevin Czap praises Steven Weissman's "Barack Hussein Obama" (seen here on our website and in Mome Vol. 21): "It actually reminds me of Wally Gropius in terms of the structure, which is not surprising given its appearance in MOME. One can only hope that the whole thing will get collected, at which point I predict it to be one of my favorite comics ever." (Via The Comics Reporter)
• Review: We almost missed this cartoon review by Casey Scieszka and Steven Weinberg at Unshelved Book Club: "…The Last Musketeer… is the epitome of everything we love about Jason: stunning color palette, insane and absurd plot, humor that sneaks up on you, his signature anthropomorphized animals, and surprisingly serious themes of authority, humanity, death, love, jealousy…"
• Profile: At Examiner.com, Gillian Gaar talks to editor/EMP curator Jacob McMurray about Taking Punk to the Masses: From Nowhere to Nevermind: "The book, as its title suggests, views Nirvana’s success as the culmination of the alternative rock scene that blossomed in America during the 1980s. 'That’s the bigger context in the exhibition as well,' McMurray explains. 'It is the story of Nirvana, but it's couched within what was happening throughout the Northwest, and throughout the US, from the rise of punk rock on. It’s the idea that there needs to be a sort of infrastructure in place for a band like Nirvana to even exist; that without all of these advances that had been happening in the underground by a dozen different bands, Nirvana would have never happened.'"
• Interview:Comic Book Resources' Chris Mautner talks to Gilbert Hernandez about Love from the Shadows and the other "Fritz B-Movie" books: "The Fritz series frees me of any obligation to be a do-gooder cartoonist, something most regular L&R readers probably don't want to hear. I felt straight jacketed with 'Palomar' and the like after a while, really. I have a lot more going on in my imagination than I'm expected to utilize." Further reading: at CBR's Robot 6 blog, Sean T. Collins comments on the interview
• Feature: At the Drawing Words & Writing Pictures blog, Best American Comics series co-editors Jessica Abel & Matt Madden spotlight two stories from Mome Vol. 13 as 2010 Notable Comics: Abel picks Dash Shaw's "Satellite CMYK" — "Dash Shaw just keeps popping up in our 'can’t miss' pile. [...] Beyond being a good story, the formal element of using color (and black and white) as a storytelling tool is very unusual and makes this work a standout." — and Madden picks Josh Simmons's "Jesus Christ": "The storytelling is fluid and dynamic, and Simmons’s ability to convey the enormity of the monster is bracing. Simmons deliberately mixes elements from different mythologies to defy any obvious reading. In the end, all we have before us is this escstatic Kali-Godzilla-Centaur with a halo of fire and a title to provoke us."
We're thrilled to present the Fantagraphics guide to the 2011 MoCCA Fest, happening this weekend Saturday, April 9th and Sunday, April 10th at the Lexington Avenue Armory in New York City! Print this out and use it as your shopping checklist and your weekend schedule!
First off, take a look at all the amazing new releases that we will be debuting at the show! Many of these books won't be in stores for several more months, and copies are limited, so make our table your first stop, or risk missing out!
Secondly, check out our jam-packed schedule of awesome authors who will be signing at the Fantagraphics table over the weekend. Not only will they be signing our books, but several of them will be bringing previews of works-in-progress!
another update: Tim Kreider will be joining us on Saturday afternoon at 2:30 pm before his panel at 4:30 pm!
All this and more awaits you at the Fantagraphics booth, located at #J1, J2, K1, K2.
And finally, get a gander at all these great panels! If you haven't already heard from The Daily Cross Hatch, they've added a second room this year, and they'll be doing more one-on-one conversations like the ones with Gahan Wilson and Peter Bagge listed below! You won't want to miss it!
Saturday, April 9th
11:30 am // Teaching Comics:Jessica Abel joins fellow panelists Bill Kartalopoulos and Tom Hart in a discussion from reading for content/visuals, to teaching how to “read” their visual rhetoric, to thinking about how to tell a story visually, what makes comics worth teaching? (Room A)
1:30 pm // Building a Book, From Start to Finish: Mark Newgarden moderates a panel with Stephen DeStefano (as well as Ben Katchor and Lauren Redniss), with an exploration of the blood, sweat, and tears that go into making a book. (Room A)
1:30 pm // Gahan Wilson: Playboy and Beyond: We explore the long, storied career of satirist Gahan Wilson. (Room B)
2:30 pm // Volunteer of the Year: Peter Kuper will present Al Jaffee with the Klein Award! (Room A)
2:30 pm // Dash Shaw and Brecht Evens in Conversation: Dash Shaw and Brecht Evens are among the most prodigious and prolific young artists working in comics today. Both began publishing ambitious work while still in school, and both have since gained notice for their lush, inventive, and thoughtful comics. (Room B)
4:30 pm // The State of Editorial Cartooning: Brian Heater presents a panel with Tim Kreider (along with Ruben Bolling and Ted Rall) on the trials and tribulations of creating political cartoons in 2011. (Room A)
5:30 pm // MoCCA Presents the Cross Hatch Carousel: Cartoonists and voice actors perform live comics readings, featuring our own Michael Kupperman and Ted Stearn, as well as Jeffrey Lewis, R. Sikoryak, Kate Beaton, Lisa Hanawalt, Julie Klausner, and more. (Room A)
Sunday, April 10th
12:30 pm // Almost True: Calvin Reid leads a discussion on where autobiography and fiction collide with Gabrielle Bell and Leslie Stein (and Joe Ollmann and Pascal Girard). (Room A)
1:30 pm // Peter Bagge: A History of Hate: Brian Heater spotlights Peter Bagge, in a one-on-one conversation with one of alternative comics’ most influential and enduring voices. (Room B)
1:30 pm // The Enterprising Will Eisner: Charles Brownstein leads a panel with Jules Feiffer, as well as Denis Kitchen and Paul Levitz. Come learn about who Will Eisner was as an entrepreneuring artist in a time when New York was the center of the commercial art universe, and how his art was shaped by that environment. (Room A)
3:30 pm // Ink Panthers Live: The popular podcast live, with special guests, like John Kerschbaum. (Room B)
• Review: "The main thing I kept thinking about while reading Wandering Son— beyond the continuous undercurrent of general squee — is how things that seem insignificant to one person can be secretly, intensely significant to someone else. [...] The story is subtle, simple, poignant, and innocent. The tone is matched by Shimura’s uncluttered artwork, which features big panels, little screentone, and extremely minimal backgrounds." – Michelle Smith, Soliloquy in Blue
• Interview:The A.V. Club Denver talks to "arguably Denver’s premier underground comic artist" Noah Van Sciver: "People e-mail me to ask if they can send me a comic. They’re sending me these hand-stapled comics and asking me what I think. It’s great. If you’re not going to be paid a lot, you might as well meet like-minded people and start a gang." (Via Robot 6)
• Profile: "Olivier Schrauwen is not the first Belgian cartoonist that I would have pegged for success in the United States, but I'm certainly not going to complain about the opportunities that he is receiving. Since the publication of his book My Boy in English translation, he has published short pieces in Mome and elsewhere, generating a solid buzz for his idiosyncratic take on human disconnectedness. His new book, L'Homme qui se laissait pousser la barbe (Actes Sud/L'An 02) collects a number of short works that have been anthologized around the world, and was nominated for a prize at this year's Angouleme Festival. It will be published later this year in English as The Man Who Grew His Beard by Fantagraphics. [...] L'Homme is a collection of seven short pieces that can be read very quickly or studied for days." – Bart Beaty, The Comics Reporter
• Profile:iFanboy's Chris Arrant profiles Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery as part of their "Publishers Who Have Their Own Comic Book Stores" feature: "Opening in late 2006, this Seattle store acts as defacto gift shop and gallery extension of the long-time publisher's comics line. The store boasts a complete repository of everything Fantagraphics has in print — as well as a number of rarities you wouldn't find most anywhere else."
"It is astonishing how well Shimura brings things to a slow boil, until the story is bubbling with emotion. You really feel the pain that Shuichi is going through as he deals with the fact that he is, well, you know, a she. There is a real sensitivity to this work that I found extremely appealing. Shimura really captures the awkwardness of it all... The whole book is adorable. This is a great, all ages take on a very difficult to express subject. Shimura’s art has so much life to it and expresses so much emotion that it is just amazing to read."
Hey, remember that cover art for Wandering Son (Hourou Musuko) Vol. 1 by Shimura Takako that we were so excited to debut last week? Well it turns out we were a little TOO excited as the version we showed you was incorrectly cropped. Here's the corrected version above; we've also fixed it in the original post, which contains more information about the book. Sorry about that folks!
In this sensitive masterpiece from Japan's most prominent creator of LGBT manga, Shuichi is a boy who wants to be a girl, and Yoshino is a girl who wants to be a boy. Shimura portrays their journey with affection, sensitivity and humor.
We know lots of you are really champing at the bit for this one — here's your first look at the final cover artwork! In the meantime, the Hourou Musuko anime series is currently broadcasting in Japan, and you can catch up on episodes at CrunchyRoll.