• Review: "It's a smart-looking book, and the choice to go color-free really allows Gilbert Hernandez's cartooning to shine. But make no mistake: this is vintage Bagge. Sure, we're minus the delicious Buddy Bradley angst, and the goofiness is rated PG, but the increasingly ridiculous situations that the girls of Yeah!... get themselves into [are] very much in Bagge's wheelhouse.... Yeah! also has in spades something that HATE! rarely, if ever, did: cuteness. Some of the hijinx and situations that the band finds itself in are, well, adorable. Hernandez's pen is as much to credit for that as is Bagge's turn to the 'pop side.'" – Jeremy Nisen, Under the Radar
• Review: "This slim graphic novel [Toys in the Basement] is nominally for children, but the art of the Frenchman Blanquet takes a children's story to an unexpected level.... This surrealist book by writer-artist Blanquet brings to the young reader a simple message: retribution will come, and you never know from which side." – Ray Garraty, Endless Falls Up
• Interview: At Comic Book Resources, Chris Mautner talks to Dave McKean about his new erotic graphic novel Celluloid: "The depressing majority of comics seem to be about violence of one sort or another, yet how much violence does the average person have to deal with in their everyday lives?... But sex is happily part of most people's lives, and crosses the mind most days, I would say, even if it's just watching your partner get out of bed in the morning."
• Interview:Time Out Chicago's Web Behrens goes back for a second helping with Paul Hornschemeier: "'I remember — well, I don’t actually remember this, but my mom told me this story many times: I was walking with her when I was little, 3 or 4. I looked up at her and said, 'Mom, sometimes I miss you even when you’re here.' What a sad — well, it’s cute, but gosh, I was lonely even then, walking with my mom! It’s just kind of how I’m wired."
• Panel:The Daily Cross Hatch begins transcribing the MoCCA panel on political cartooning that Tim Kreider was on: "My early cartoons were surreal non-sequiturs, but I feel like I was kind of conscripted into duty as a political cartoonist. I didn’t feel like the Bush years were just the opposition in charge. It felt like a true aberration in history, like the McCarthy years. It’s something I just couldn’t keep my mouth shut about. Once it was over, I was very, very happy to quit, but I wasn’t going to quit before George did."
• Review: "Technically (or so says Fantagraphics!) [Toys in the Basement] is a children's book. A children's book by way of your worst adult nightmare. Seriously if there's a child out there who could read this all the way through without pissing his pants, I would like to meet that child and lock him up before he does the rest of society some harm. Because this 'children's' book is twisted. And that's why I enjoyed it so much." – P.D. Houston, Renderwrx Productions
• Review: "...[Unlovable] is crushingly funny and achingly sad. [...] Drawn in a two colour, faux-grotesque manner (you can call it intentionally primitive and ugly if you want) the page by page snapshots of a social hurricane building to disaster is absolutely captivating. [...] Both these big little hardbacks... comprise a delightful and genuinely moving exploration of something eternal... and like those other imaginary diarists Nigel Molesworth, Bridget Jones and Adrian Mole Tammy Pierce’s ruminations and recordings have something ineffable yet concrete to contribute to the Wisdom of the Ages. Modern and Post-Ironic, Unlovable is unmissable; and now that the entire sorry saga is available in this superb and substantial collectors boxed set, you have the perfect opportunity to discover the how and why of girls and possibly learn something to change your life." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
Stéphane Blanquet (France) Ivan Brunetti (USA- Chicago) Lilli Carré (USA- Chicago) Max Clotfelter (USA- Seattle) Al Columbia (USA) Ludovic Debeurme (France) Olivier Deprez (France) Nikki DeSautelle (USA- Detroit) Brecht Evens (Belgium) Andy Gabrysiak (USA- Detroit) Robert Goodin (USA- Pasadena) Dav Guedin (France) Gnot Guedin (France) Glenn Head (USA- New York City) Danny Hellman (USA- New York City) Paul Hornschemeier (USA- Chicago) Ian Huebert (USA- San Francisco) Kaz (USA- Los Angeles) Michael Kupperman (USA- New York City) Mats!? (USA- Oakland, CA) Fanny Michaëlis (France) James Moore (USA- New York City) Tom Neely (USA- Los Angeles) Mark Newgarden (USA- New York City) Paul Nudd (USA- Chicago) Onsmith (USA- Chicago) Emelie Östergren (Sweden) Paul Paetzel (Germany) David Paleo (Argentina) Bruno Richard (France) Martin Rowson (United Kingdom) Olivier Schrauwen (Belgium) Stephen Schudlich (USA- Detroit) Robert Sikoryak (USA- New York City) Brecht Vandenbroucke (Belgium) Wouter Vanhaelemeesch (Belgium) Jon Vermilyea (USA- New York City)
And original essays by: -Jeet Heer (Canada), on S. Clay Wilson -Bob Levin (USA- Berkeley, CA), on The Adventures of Phoebe Zeit-Geist by Michael O’Donoghue and Frank Springer -Ken Parille (USA- Greenville, NC), on humor in the work of Steve Ditko -Ryan Standfest (USA- Detroit), on Al Feldstein and “sick” humor at E.C. + interview with Al Feldstein
And a text by: Roland Topor (France), 100 Good Reasons To Kill Myself Right Now, translated into English for the first time by Edward Gauvin
#4 - You'll Never Know, Book 2: Collateral Damage by C. Tyler: "The first volume of Tyler's planned trilogy appeared on this list last year, and she hasn't missed a step, fleshing out her father's time in World War II with fresh details about its long-term aftershocks on the home front."
#3 - It Was the War of the Trenches by Jacques Tardi: "...French cartoonist Tardi's pitch-black World War I masterpiece, available in English for the first time. This is war as hourly apocalypse, Expressionist and agonizing."
#1 - Love and Rockets: New Stories #3 by the Hernandez Brothers: "The first two [issues] were typically excellent, but the third was jaw-dropping, largely because of 'Browntown,' a story by Jaime Hernandez. Like his brother Gilbert, Jaime has been so good for so long that it's become very easy to take his obvious genius for granted. 'Browntown' brought that skill into brutal relief, a devastating story of a secret left to fester. Expertly paced, with not a line wasted, it was one of the year's best stories in any medium, a stunner from a guy who keeps finding new peaks."
• List:Popdose's Johnny Bacardi (né David Allen Jones) names Love and Rockets: New Stories #3 one of his Best of 2010: "Featuring Jaime Hernandez's remarkable 'Browntown,' perhaps the best thing he's ever done. Which makes this absolutely essential."
• Review: "...The Littlest Pirate King is gorgeously illustrated and quite intriguing. David B. has an unusual style which tempers the creepiness of undead pirates with an almost goofy look; but then those cartoony characters grin as they run swords through people. It’s a very odd juxtaposition that matches the story well..." – Jonathan Liu, Wired – GeekDad
• Review: "...[Usagi Yojimbo] is probably one of the best comic stories ever made. The epic scope expected from historical fiction is there as are some of the most finely drawn characters in the medium. [...] While even the stories that are not particularly noteworthy are highly readable, the good stories in this collection are amazing. [...] I give this book the highest possible praises for quality." – J.A. Crestmere, Renderwrx Productions
• Review: "Destroy All Movies!!!, edited by Zack Carlson and Bryan Connolly, not only gives an great anthology-like overview... but provides a strong focus on the talent and punk-brains behind the art. [...] It’s the perfect summation of a 1980s American society that didn’t know how to handle the punk uprising, and a film industry that capitalized on it." – Dave McKendry, Fangoria
• Review: "Fantagraphics has finally presented the work of one of comics' greatest mystery men in dignity with beautiful color reproduction and informative introductions. [... Unexplored Worlds] shows off Ditko's work after the Comics Code Authority came onto the scene and turned every lurid story of horror and 'the macabre' into some lame morality tale in which everyone has a nice time. Still there's some strong content in this book..." – Nick Gazin, Vice
• Review: "Johnny's new book [FUC_ __U, _SS __LE] is full of the yucky yuks, barfy larfs, and gags-that-make-you-gag that have made this shock comicker the Artie Lange of drawn funnies! [...] Do you like comics where dangling nutsacks are mistaken for pinatas and rich people shove DVDs into midgets' butt cleavage which causes them to act out the movies? A comic where summoning a Garfield Satan is possible by using the Lasagnanomicon? A comic where a little girl shoots the homelees in the brain, grinds them up, and feeds them to skunks for Thanksgiving? You don't? Neither does anybody else. Eat my balls, JR." – Nick Gazin, Vice
• Review: "As with Ryan’s more recent work... the jokes [in FUC_ __U, _SS __LE] become have become more outrageous, absurd, disturbing and just plain odd. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing depends upon your appreciation for Prison Pit, not to mention your appreciation for Johnny Ryan’s comics in general. Me, I thought it was swell." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "Here’s another best of 2010 comics entry for you. Cathy Malkasian’s Temperance is like Franz Kafka’s The Castle meets Little House on the Prairie and goes drinking. No, it’s like rewriting Pinocchio as several Flannery O’Connor short stories, including (but not limited to) 'A Good Man Is Hard To Find' and 'Good Country People.' No, that’s not it either. [...] Anyway, it’s weird as hell. This stuff." – John Holbo, Crooked Timber
• Review: "Dosed with dry, mordant wit and just the right tone of macabre Ghost Train suspense Toys in the Basement is a simply terrific goose-bumpy thriller rendered magical by the wildly eccentric, brilliantly imaginative and creepily fluid artwork of Blanquet. This dark delight also has the perfect moral message for loot-hungry, attention-deprived youngsters – and their kids and grandchildren too." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Interview:The Daily War Drum talks to Stephen DeStefano about his Disney comics work and other topics: "I'm currently working on storyboards for Disney TV Animation, on a show called Kick Buttowski. I'm also drawing Spongebob Squarepants comic books, as well as drawing the second volume of my graphic novel (Volume One was published this past September) called Lucky in Love."
• List:Library Journal names It Was the War of the Trenches by Jacques Tardi as one of the Best Graphic Novels of 2010: "Originally inspired by his grandfather's first-person stories, Tardi has created not a formal history but a masterful graphic and visceral tone poem about war."
• List: It's also #5 on the Top 10 Graphic Novels of 2010 list posted by Leeds UK comic shop OK Comics
• Commentary:The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon weighs in on the 4th anniversary of Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery: "The thing that I like about the idea of the Fanta store — I haven't been; I've barely visited Seattle since it opened — other than the fact that I enjoy manager/curator Larry Reid more than I enjoy most human beings is that it, and also things like D+Q's flagship store, are kind of old-fashioned ideas that are made to work on the companies' behalf.
For decades they have roamed the seas, this shipload of undead pirates. They are desperate to die, but every time they try to dash their ship to splinters and end their miserable existence, a malevolent God scoops them out of danger. And so they have no choice but to continue to sail the seas, looting and killing.
Until one day, having exterminated yet another ship of the living, they come across a little pink baby. Adopting him as their mascot and dubbing him their "Littlest King," they continue their journeys. But eventually the King begins to grow up...
Adapted by David B., the acclaimed creator of Epileptic, from a short story by Pierre Mac Orlan (which was published decades before the release of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, thank you very much), The Littlest Pirate King is David B.'s first full-color graphic novel to be released in English, and his vivid palette combines with his stunningly elegant graphics to create a magical yarn that can be enjoyed by young and old alike.
This week's comic shop shipment is slated to include the following new titles. Read on to see what comics-blog commentators are saying about our releases this week, and contact your local shop to confirm availability.
96-page full-color 8.5" x 11.5" hardcover • $24.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-382-8
"Being Fantagraphics’ fourth entry in its current effort at bringing the great Jacques Tardi to English, this time starting up a full-scale sub-series dedicated to the artist’s long-running, rather droll evocation of turn-of-the-century fictions, centered on an awesomely controlled, never-smiling heroine prepared to tangle with any peril, be it a prehistoric creature or mad science." – Joe McCulloch, Comics Comics
"The first American volume = the first two French volumes of Jacques Tardi's semi-parodic 'adventuress in the weird Paris of 1911' series..." – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
"Fantagraphics' Tardi roll-out reaches new heights with this first in a series of books translating Tardi's fun and of course beautiful-looking turn-of-century adventure series." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"There's several noteworthy, oddball trades out Wednesday. ...Fantagraphics is reprinting Jacques Tardi's The Extraordinary Adventures Of Adele Blanc-Sec in English — the first installment features the adventurer battling a pterodactyl..." – Cyriaque Lamar, io9
"Jacques Tardi’s mystery adventure stories set in pre-WWI Paris are being retranslated and republished by Fantagraphics in a new series of books. I’ve only read The Eiffel Tower Demon, but if Pterror Over Paris is anything like that, then this should be a great package." – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
"My top choice of a splurge item is Fantagraphics first volume of The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc Sec... I can’t resist a French, turn-of-the-century pterodactyl hunter." – Michael May, Robot 6
32-page full-color 8.5" x 11.25" hardcover • $14.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-402-3
"Also Fanta, also French..., a sort of plastic-body-horror take on Toy Story in which a pair of costumed ankle-biters journey to a land of mutilated playthings. At 32 pages, I believe this qualifies as the first-ever longform Blanquet work released on its own in English." – Joe McCulloch, Comics Comics
"Stéphane Blanquet draws this uncharacteristically kid-friendly, Toy Story-gone-sour tale of a secret sanctuary for abused toys invaded by a pair of kids who haven't always treated their stuffed animals as kindly as they ought to have." – Joe McCulloch, Comics Comics
"[A] graphic novel... that [is] more slipping out than arriving on the stands with fanfare, ...from [a] quality cartoonist... with [an] impressive creative pedigree... I look forward to reading [it]." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"I’m extremely curious about Fantagraphics’ new kids eurocomic line, which kicks off this week with the release of Stephane Blanquet’s Toys in the Basement. I’m especially curious in this case as Blanquet isn’t up till this point an author known for his all-ages friendly material. In fact, it’s quite the opposite; his work is usually typified by ugly, sweaty people doing horrible, disturbing things. So, yeah, I want to see how he dials it down (if at all) for the kiddies." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"...I like the idea of a kid-friendly comic that isn’t afraid to be creepy, and this one — in which a boy dressed in a pink bunny suit stumbles into some weird French version of the Island of Misfit Toys — looks like a challenging read." – Brigid Alverson, Robot 6
With appearances in such anthologies as Zero Zero, Blab! and Kramer's Ergot, Stéphane Blanquet has been delighting and terrifying American readers with his superslick, ultradetailed creepiness.
So it makes perfect sense that his first graphic novel to be published in the U.S. would be... a children's book? Yes indeed.
Our hero, attending a Halloween party in an embarrassing pink bunny costume (he wanted to be a pirate) stumbles across a secret underground society of damaged, forgotten, and pissed-off toys in the basement of his friend's house — including the terrifying Amelia, a towering sentient assemblage of broken toy parts out for revenge!
Imagine Toy Story as reimagined by David Lynch and Charles Burns and you'll have a good idea of what this story is like. And yes, it is for kids!
[In this first of what will hopefully be a recurring series of Editors Notes posts, Kim Thompson interviews himself (in a format he's dubbed "AutoChat") on the subject of Fantagraphics' first Franco-Belgian kids' comic release, coming to a comics shop near you later in November. – Ed.]
This is your first Blanquet book. Why pick this one?
Honestly, it kind of dropped in my lap out of nowhere. I read it, I liked it, and I thought "Why not?" I've long wanted do publish a Blanquet book - we've published short stories of his in Zero Zero and Blab!...
This one is kind of outside his usual mode, though. I mean... a kids' comic? This is a guy known for body horror that makes David Cronenberg look like Walt Disney.
There's elements of that even in Toys in the Basement, but yes, that's true. What's even weirder is that the other long-form Blanquet book that's been translated into English is another more-or-less all-ages story, in Dungeon Monstres Vol. 2: The Dark Lord. The thing is, most of Blanquet's more Blanquet-y work in France has been published in these odd formats, little boutique presentations, none of which I think would really survive very well in the American book market. But actually that might end soon. I've been in contact with Blanquet's main French publisher, Cornélius, and they're talking about doing a sizeable omnibus collection that would collect some of those smaller books and other material and basically create a nice big sampler of Blanquet — something I could sell to Barnes & Noble. I told him I'm in!
Toys in the Basement is also apparently the first in a "line" of sorts...?
Yeah, my all-ages Franco-Belgian comics series. Again, I sort of backed into it. I'd decided to publish Blanquet's book, and then I was offered David B.'s Le roi rose, which we're publishing at The Littlest Pirate King, and then I figured, why not make an official series of it? Geometrically speaking, if you've got two points, you've got a line. So I asked Jacob Covey to come up with some overarching design, I wrote a little historical essay putting the whole Franco-Belgian kids' comics thing in perspective which we'll run in the back of each, and I've started buying up other material for it.
Will it be contemporary like these two, classic, or...?
The next two will be classic 1960s work, Tillieux and Macherot, but I plan to hop around and pick and choose from the entire last 50 years. I've always loved the Franco-Belgian kids comics: I grew up with them, and even though this may color my feelings somewhat, I firmly believe that was, and is, one of the true pinnacles of comics, absolutely on a par with Carl Barks or Walt Kelly.
Sure, although the series veered into a bit more of adult sensibility in the later volumes. I might yet go back and do a few more of those, as a matter of fact.
Aside from Tintin and Asterix, and a few things from First Second, there really isn't that much being published in the U.S.
In some ways it's a tough genre to sell. It killed Catalan Comics back in the 1980s when they tried to expand their adult European graphic novels into a kids' line, Comcat, and if you remember Fantasy Flight, which published among other things a Franquin Spirou book which I translated, that was a noble disaster. But the material is so great; maybe the American readership is finally ready for it. NBM, who has dabbled in it themselves from time to time, is re-launching The Smurfs, for instance. The movie looks like it'll be an abomination, but if it gets people reading those classic albums again, that's good. (The Smurf King is one of the ten greatest European comics albums ever, seriously.) There's actually an outfit in the United Kingdom called Cinebook that's been doing a lot of work in the genre, including at least three stone classics, Lucky Luke, Blake and Mortimer, and Valerian, and a lot of solid other work like Iznogoud, Yoko Tsuno, and Boule et Bill (which they've re-dubbed Billy and Buddy, apparently in inadvertent tribute to Herman Melville). Those books do sell in the U.S., you can buy them through Last Gasp or on Amazon.com — they're nicely done, and really inexpensive, too. Seriously, any fan owes it to him- or herself to pick up a Lucky Luke and a Blake and Mortimer.
Aren't these AutoChats supposed to be promoting your books?
Well, yeah. I get carried away with the Team Comics spirit sometimes. Anyway, Toys in the Basement is a huge amount of fun, like everything Blanquet touches it's spectacularly drawn, it's one of the few books we've put out that's both totally kid safe and thoroughly entertaining for adults... I had a blast working on it. Buy it.
Another two-day Online Commentary & Diversions (running a little off schedule, sorry):
• Review: "Hollywood is probably the most likely to misrepresent any culture, but their casting of punks as Neolithic, abusive, drug addicts with candy-colored hair and an inexplicable amount of chains is far too amusing to turn away from. [Destroy All Movies!!!] editors Zack Carlson and Bryan Connolly seem to have noticed this trend, and their commentary about each of these films borders on hilarious at several points. [...] In the end, you get both a compendium of thoughtful ruminations on punk culture and a hilarious collection of movie missteps..." – Thorin Klosowski, Denver Westword
• Review: "[Jason] is without immediate peer, and perhaps the closest I can get to him is Jim Jarmusch, the indie film director... Werewolves of Montpellier is less about the grand sweep of its pseudo-horror set-up (which is utterly demolished by a delicious final page denouement), and more about its mundane aspects, which resonate further than the book's forty-odd pages. ★★★★ [out of 5]" – Michael Leader, Den of Geek
• Review: "...Blake Bell has crafted an excellent look at one of comics' most underappreciated creators: compelling, well paced and entertaining. [...] Bell kept Fire & Water moving at an excellent pace, never dwelling too long on any details but giving us Everett's life in relation to his comic career. And that's the key: Bell is a comic fan and knows his audience is as well so that's the focus. [...] While the tale of Everett's life held my attention the art is the real star. Covering everything from early doodles to his last published page we get to see thirty plus years of material. [...] The fit and finish for Fire & Water is exceptional. A heavy matt paper is used that really shows off the material and gives it an almost period feel. The size is perfect for admiring the art and is easy to read; a new perfect package. I can't get enough of the dust jacket image and its design is stunning: a real eye catcher. At $40 it's a great value." – Scott VanderPloeg, Comic Book Daily
• Review: Sean T. Collins's "Love and Rocktober" review series at Attentiondeficitdisorderly moves on to Gilbert Hernandez's oeuvre, starting with Heartbreak Soup: "Whether in terms of family, sexuality, physicality, or deformity, biology is destiny for the people of Palomar... And although biology is obviously among Beto's primary concerns, destiny is the operative word. I don't think the Palomarians have the ability to escape the way the Locas do. Not all of them need to escape, mind you — there's a lot of really warm and adorable and hilarious and awesome stuff going down in Palomar — but whatever walks alongside them in their lives is gonna walk alongside them till the very end."
• List: At Robot 6, guest contributor Van Jensen names Josh Simmons's House as one of his "six favorite horror comics & movies" (and, by reduction, one of his three favorite horror comics): "Simmons uses no words through the entire story, but his real accomplishment is utilizing the design of the pages to deliver an increasingly claustrophobic, disorienting and terrifying story."
• Plug: At Robot 6, Sean T. Collins highlights our duo of creepy all-ages releases, David B.'s The Littlest Pirate King and Stéphane Blanquet's Toys in the Basement
• Interview:The Daily Cross Hatch's Brian Heater concludes his 3-part chat with Drew Weing: "What’s funny is, I’ve got Google Alerts for my name, so if somebody says it on the Internet, I show up like Beetlejuice. I click on it, like, 'ooh, this guy just dissed me.'" [Hi, Drew.]