As you may know, Nicest Man in Comics Stan Sakai and his wonderful wife Sharon have been having a tough time recently as Sharon battles serious illness. Bills for convalescent care have been exceeding what their insurance covers and now CAPS, the Cartoon Art Professional Society, is putting together some charitable efforts to help with that. You can contribute original art for their benefit auction or just send money directly — all the details are here.
So many new readers of all ages discover Stan Sakai's wonderful, multiple-award-winning, now-classic Usagi Yojimbo as the years go on that we keep having to go back to press — twelve times on Book 1: The Ronin now! Read the rabbit ronin's first adventures in this compact softcover, sporting the new trade dress designed by Jacob Covey a few years back. Fresh copies in stock now and in stores soon!
The late Kim Thompson introduced the world to Stan Sakai in Fantagraphics' Critters anthology three decades ago. As Sakai's signature character Usagi Yojimbo nears its 30-year anniversary, the Baltimore Comic-Con honors this exceptional artist at the Baltimore Convention Center on Saturday.
Sakai will greet fans at booth 1902 before appearing at the Usagi Yojimbo Celebration with Dark Horse editor Diana Schutz in room 301 from 2:00 to 3:00 PM. An exclusive Usagi Yojimbo tee shirt (pictured below) and yearbook featuring homages of the intrepid Samurai warrior by over 40 artists will be available at the convention. At 5:00 PM you can bid on the original art by Sakai and other contributors at booth 2505 in the Main Hall. Don't miss this opportunity to meet one of the world's most gifted cartoonists, not to mention one of the nicest people in our industry.
• Review: "Josh Simmons' book The Furry Trap is truly disturbing in its depravity. Makes Ultra Gash Inferno look cute. An inspiring & exhilarating read! How many comics can you honestly say made you sick or upset when you read them? Furry Trap made me question the First Amendment at times." – Sammy Harkham
• Review: "By this point, the reader will know if [Dungeon Quest] is their cup of tea; anyone who enjoys alt-comics takes on fantasy and/or stoner humor will find this a sheer delight. I'd say the sheer level of craftsmanship and the way Daly shifts storytelling modes so quickly would at least interest other readers, especially those who enjoy deadpan absurdism, since that's the core of Daly's sense of humor. For the continuing fan of this series, Daly continues to raise the stakes in each volume and adds richness and depth for those who are looking for more detail. Above all else, he does for the reader what he does with his party: he keeps things moving even when his characters are navel-gazing." – Rob Clough, High-Low
• Review: "...Moto Hagio has more on her agenda than simply trotting out tired 'girly' storylines. Her protagonists struggle with loss, rejection, and insecurity in a manner sure to strike readers as honest and familiar, never reductive or patronizing.... The stories collected here [in A Drunken Dream] span 31 years of Hagio’s career and, while the later stories do seem a bit looser and more confident, the earlier stories certainly don’t suffer by comparison." – Andrew Fuerste-Henry, No Flying No Tights
• Review: "Boasting [Fantagraphics'] usual high-production values and showcasing the genesis of the indie comics icon, [Usagi Yojimbo, Book 1:] The Ronin is a meticulously curated artifact of comics history.... The book is worth buying for the art alone. Sharply reproduced on gratifyingly durable stock, the quality of the lines leap out from the page even in these early stories." – Abhimanyu Das, Slant Magazine
• Profile: At Comic Book Resources, Shaun Manning talks to Nicolas Mahler about his superhero spoof Angelman: "Mahler said he does not have an in-depth knowledge of the major events and storylines [in superhero comics] of recent years, but said he is still familiar with the culture. 'I think my point of view is very '80s, that is when I stopped reading them,' he said. 'After that, I only have very superficial information. I know more about the fanboys, actually. I enjoy the scene around superheroes more than the stories themselves. I like it when people take this very seriously, and can debate endlessly about little faults in a superhero's universe."'
• Interview: Following an introduction in his native Greek, Comicdom's Tomas Papadimitropoulos posts his untranslated (i.e. English) Q&A with Hans Rickheit: "I am compelled to draw these comics.... These stories follow a certain pattern of logic that makes sense to me. I don’t have the vocabulary to explain how it works, that is why I draw them as comic strips."
• Interview:The A.V. Club's Keith Phipps has a great Q&A with Daniel Clowes: "I can look at my early work and see what a pained struggle it was to draw what I was drawing. I was trying so hard to get this specific look that was in my head, and always falling short. I could see the frustration in the lines, and I remember my hand being tensed and redrawing things a thousand times until I finally inked it, and just having this general tense anxiety about every drawing. I think that comes through in the artwork, and gives it this certain kind of manic energy, this kind of repressed energy, so you feel like it’s sort of bursting at the seams or something."
• Interview (Audio):Daniel Clowes sits down for a chat on Bay Area NPR station KQED's Forum with host Michael Krasny
• Video: Via Meltdown Comics and Boing Boing, a charming short film by Rocío Mesa about a couple of dedicated Daniel Clowes fans
• Plug: "...[W]e recommend checking out Love and Rockets Library: The Complete Vol. 1 from Fantagraphics, which collects every issue of the landmark alt-comic series between 1982 and 1996. In Love and Rockets, Gilbert and his brother Jaime Hernandez wrote stories ranging from satire to political intrigue, and introduced such noteworthy characters as Luba, the temperamental, full-figured mayor of a Central American village, and Maggie Chascarrillo, a punk rock-loving Mexican girl who becomes a solar mechanic. ...[T]here's no better time to become a Los Bros Hernandez zombie than right now." – Phil Guie, Critical Mob
• Interview (Video):VICE's Rocco Castoro: "Johnny Ryan has been filling the back page of VICE magazine with twisted comics for the past ten years. Not to toot our own horn here, but it's fair to say that his strips are some of the funniest and grossest being published anywhere right now. We sat down with Johnny at his house in LA to discuss how he got started, his feelings towards R. Crumb, and how he used to barely give a shit about the work he submitted to us."
• Interview: At Stumptown, our pal Gavin Lees sat down for a chat with the great Stan Sakai on assignment for Bleeding Cool: "My abilities as a storyteller have matured over the years, I hope, and if you look at the early years of Usagi, you can see a huge difference in the character. His proportions have changed — at the beginning, he was maybe three-heads high, now he’s more like five-heads. So, he’s gotten sleeker and he’s not as cuddly any more. That may be because I’ve concentrated on more dramatic stories, rather than humorous, as the series went on. Most of the changes are unconscious on my part, though, just myself maturing as an artist and a storyteller."
We had a swell time at the Stumptown Comics Fest in Portland this past weekend and the big news for us there was that Jaime Hernandez received the Stumptown Comic Arts Award for Best Cartoonist! Festival special guest and our longtime pal Stan Sakai picked up the award for Best Letterer, and our newest hire, Jen Vaughn, shares the award for Best Anthology as co-editor of Lies Grown-ups Told Me. Congrats to all!
Fantagraphics is rockin' the convention scene from coast to coast this coming weekend, and you can also find us at the 9th Annual Stumptown Comics Fest in Portland, Oregon! Drop by the Oregon Convention Center this Saturday, April 28th and Sunday, April 29th!
You can find us at Booth 101, right near the entrance to the lobby, panels, workshops, and registration!
And many of our fine Fantagraphics artists will be featured in panels this year! Go check 'em out!
Saturday, April 28th
2:00-2:45 pm // WILD MAN: A Confluence of Art, Science and History:T Edward Bak's natural history-oriented graphic novel-biography, WILD MAN: The Strange Journey and Fantastic Account of the Naturalist Georg Wilhelm Steller was serialized from 2009-2011 in the Fantagraphics comics anthology MOME. The artist has conducted his own research throughout SE Alaska and the Aleutian archipelago, as well as St. Petersburg (Russian Federation) where he recently delivered presentations of his work for this ongoing project. Mr. Bak will relate his travel experiences, share WILD MAN artwork, relate the challenges of his process and research, and discuss his recent collaboration with writer Sarah Mirk on the Oregon History Comics project, "Voices from Celilo Falls", which further explores his interest in North Pacific natural history. (Room B111)
1:00-1:45 pm // Frank Santoro's Comic Book Layout Workshop: Frank Santoro (Cold Heat, The Comics Journal) will present a Layout Workshop for comic book makers via Skype. Borrowing lessons from his Correspondence Course, Frank will lead an informal talk and workshop which will revolve around formats available to makers in 2012 - and how comics composed for print might be translated to the web. (Room B113)
1:00-1:45 pm // Spotlight on Peter Bagge:Best known for his comic-book series Hate, which helped to define the grunge generation, and his recent contributions to Reason magazine, Peter Bagge is always willing to confront hard-hitting societal issues with intelligence, wit, and funny bone intact. Join us for a conversation with the multiple Harvey and Eagle Award-winning cartoonist, whose newest series, Reset, has just been launched in the Dark Horse Originals line. Moderated by Ryan Alexander-Tanner. (Room B114)
2:00-2:45 pm // Of Rabbits and Ronin: Spotlight on Stan Sakai: World-renowned cartoonist Stan Sakai has been writing, drawing, and even hand-lettering his beloved rabbit samurai series Usagi Yojimbo for twenty-seven years and counting. Join Sakai for a discussion of Usagi's history and future, as well as demonstrations and all-ages audience participation! Moderated by Usagi series editor, Diana Schutz. (Room B114)
Sunday, April 29th
4:00-4:45 pm // Making History: What do a Victorian robot, theology scholar, and rabbit ronin have in common? They're the stars of three very different stories in historical settings: Boilerplate: History's Mechanical Marvel; Family Man; and Usagi Yojimbo. Join their creators -- Paul Guinan and Anina Bennett, Dylan Meconis, and Stan Sakai -- for a lively discussion of history and storytelling. (Room B114)
2:00-2:45 pm // The New Underground:Frank Santoro referred to the current independent comics scene as a dawn of a new "Golden Age". There is a theory that if you go deep enough underground you hit the actual main stream. This generation is equally fluent in zines and Tumblr accounts; genre exploration and abstract art; printing process and independent distribution. Join panelists Chris Cilla, Max Clotfelter, Farel Dalrymple, Julia Gfrorer, Jack Hayden, Jason Miles, Jesse Moynihan, Emily Nilsson, Zack Soto, Angie Wang and Malachi Ward for a roundtable discussion on the future of underground comics. (Room B116)
Usagi Yojimbo: The Special Edition, the deluxe, slipcased two-volume hardcover set collecting the complete first decade of Stan Sakai's long-running, beloved series, with bonus materials including a color cover gallery, a career-spanning interview and more, has sold through its print run and is now a collectible. However! We have received a small shipment of dent-and-ding copies returned from the distributor, so if you don't mind a slipcase with a bonked corner or other superficial damage and you love bargains, good news because you can buy one of them for $50 — that's half price — from our mail-order department or from the fabled back room at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery. Fifty bucks for 1,160 pages of top-notch comics and fascinating bonus features is a heck of a deal, and we don't imagine these will last long, so don't delay!
Wondering where Stan Sakai is gonna be this weekend??? ...Oh, right, it's in the headline.
Yes, Sakai-san will be at WonderCon this weekend, and you can find him all three days at Table D-4, as in bring dollars 4 buying copies of the very early Usagi Yojimbo trades and some art, as he reports on Facebook he will have on hand.
WonderCon runs from Friday, March 16th to Sunday, March 18th, at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California.