A lot of catching up to do with this batch of clips & strips — click for improved/additional viewing and possible artist commentary at the sources:
• A couple of things Bill Griffith has recently shared on Facebook: the rejected first draft of the home screen for the Zippy Comix iPhone app, and a "lost" Wacky Packages design that Bill says is "almost sacrilegious"
Aspiring animators, join Stephen DeStefano for a 3-session intensive course in "How to Do Storyboards for Animation" at MoCCA in NYC starting November 22. Stephen's been in the animation biz for almost 20 years and his resume is out the wazoo. (Of course, we love him best for his graphic novel Lucky in Love. And The Venture Bros.) More info at the MoCCA website.
Tonight at 8 PM (Eastern/Pacific) on Cartoon Network is the debut of the new series Sym-Bionic Titan — our man Stephen DeStefano worked on it and drew the above promo art! I've got my DVR set and so should you.
(UPDATE: Just to clarify a bit, Stephen is Character Designer for the show, which is created & executive-produced by Genndy Tartakovsky.)
• Review: "...A Drunken Dream and Other Stories... is a deeply impressive — and immersive — piece of work that's full of complex emotional truths. And deep weirdness. [...] I dug this, and I think many, many people not conversant with manga will, too. Stylistically, it's a curious mix: Her linework gives each page a sense of openness, conjuring a world of light breezes, flowers and sunshine, even as her characters struggle with inner darkness. This darkness can take many forms: doomed eternal love, grief, guilt or — in the collection's most satisfyingly creepy/affecting tale — a parasitic conjoined twin. It’s not overwrought or melodramatic – Hagio's got too good an eye for locating the emotional center of her work for that. But it is sincere, and often abashedly poignant." – Glen Weldon, NPR.org
• Plugs: "It’s a relatively smallish week but Fantagraphics have beefed it up with two brilliant looking books. Lucky in Love: A Poor Man’s History is the first of a two-part story written by George Chieffet about Lucky Testatuda, a rascally teen from New Jersey’s Little Italy and his experiences before, during, and after the war. But it’s not your usual take on the old familiar when-I-went-to-war tale... The other offering from Fantagraphics is From Shadow to Light: The Life & Art of Mort Meskin, a coffee table art book, biography and critique of a highly influential Golden Age artist... This book not only looks at his entire comics career which spanned for about 30 years from the 40’s but also goes on to include stuff from 1965 and onwards, when he went on to become some sort of Don Draper character (one cheerily imagines) in an advertising firm in 1965." – The Gosh! Comics Blog
• Plugs: "A beautiful retrospective on the 30 year career and work of an under-appreciated comics legend. From Shadow to Light makes an excellent argument that [Mort] Meskin has a home in the comics pantheon next to the likes of Jack Kirby and Alex Toth. [...] Both visually stunning and gripping narrative-wise, Lucky [in Love] is like an epic feature length classic cartoon with a modern sensibility — in book format." – Benn Ray (Atomic Books), Largehearted Boy
• Profile: At The Metabunker, Matthias Wivel profiles Nikoline Werdelin, creator of the Eisner-nominated story "Because I Love You So Much" from From Wonderland with Love, on the occasion of her 50th birthday: "And she is indeed merciless. A borderline if not full-blown cynic, her coldness is tempered by an exacting sense of humor that betrays her involvement. Plus it brings a rare clarity to her vision — she is a diagnostician rather than a nihilist. [...] A cartoonist for our age."
This week's comic shop shipment is slated to include the following new titles (with one possible exception — see below). Read on to see what comics-blog commentators are saying about our releases this week, and contact your local shop to confirm availability.
120-page monochrome 6.5" x 8.5" hardcover • $19.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-354-5
"Stephen DeStefano — remember him from ''Mazing Man'? — and George Chieffet's graphic novel is the first of a two-volume project about a young man finding his way in the political and sexual world during World War II. It's a smart, discursive little story, and really nicely drawn, in a kind of grand post-Milt Gross style that one doesn't see very often these days." – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
"You couldn’t ask for a better drawn comic than this original graphic novel by author George Chieffet and artist Stephen DeStefano. Well, you could, but you wouldn’t get it." – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
"Nice looking book of the week about which I know little save for its looking nice... #2 – a new hardcover account of a short man’s romantic longings in and out of the WWII era, plotted and drawn by comics and animation veteran Stephen DeStefano, with a script by one George Chieffet." – Joe McCulloch, Comics Comics
"A hardcover memoir set in early 1940s Hoboken and starring the evocative art of natural-born cartoonist Stephen DeStefano working from a script by George Chieffet. I can't wait to see it." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"It’s been awhile since we’ve seen much from DeStefano — he’s been busy with animation projects and illustration work — but I’m intrigued by his attempt to tell the story (working with writer George L. Chieffet) of WWII soldier Lucky and his various sexual misadventures with a number of women. DeStefano has a nice, thick, rubbery line that I really appreciate, so I look forward to lingering over these pages." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
116-page black & white 6.5" x 8.5" softcover • $12.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-383-5
"Not sure I can say anything here that the cover image above doesn’t." – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
"Continuing Johnny Ryan’s much-enjoyed fight comic, vol. 1 of which provided maybe the most unexpected bit of successful East-West comics fusion for 2009. Two huge battles dominate these 116 pages, one of them extensive enough to mutilate lead character CF into an entirely new character design, and the second foregrounding the motif of bodily (often sexual) function-as-transformation as a specific means of plot advancement. Parts of this one reminded me a bit of Josh Simmons’ House, which could be taken as a treat or a warning, depending on the reader’s disposition." – Joe McCulloch, Comics Comics
"Johnny Ryan's all-violence-and-scatology-all-the-time tour of some kind of personal videogame/quest-narrative mythology continues. Dude's got a vision. A really gross vision... you can tell that what he's making is, as far as he's concerned, the perfect comic book, and I admire that level of commitment." – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
"As far as trade paperbacks go, we have Prison Pit 2 (Fantagraphics) from Johnny Ryan — we interviewed Ryan recently about this ultra-violent meditation on mutants, blood, and swearing." – Cyriaque Lamar, io9
"If I did have $15, you can bet one of the first things I’d buy is Prison Pit Vol. 2 ($12.99) Johnny Ryan’s sequel to his exquisitely Grand Guginol, no-holds-barred, incredibly violent and scatological action comic. To say this comic is not for the faint of heart is the understatement of the year — it features an insane amount of blood and viscera, an abundance of fecal matter and [Spoiler redacted – Ed.]. It’s also rather brilliant at the same time — a free-flowing, constantly imaginative display of pure cartooning power that is both disgusted and invigorated by the horror of its ideas. The first volume was one of the best books of last year. Will the second match its power? Bet on it." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
204-page full-color 8.25" x 10.75" hardcover • $29.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-357-6
"Being a new 204-page Fantagraphics hardcover collection of illustrations by Drew Friedman, who probably didn’t need a link to his website as a means of your realizing who he his, but still!" – Joe McCulloch, Comics Comics
"Since I’m [hypothetically] splurging, I’ll also pick up a copy of Too Soon? by Drew Friedman, because, you know, it’s Drew Friedman." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
The next one is not officially being released this week; read on for the explanation:
104-page black & white 7.5" x 9.25" softcover • $14.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-379-8
"Oh God the Hernandez brothers are so good. This isn't even on the Diamond list for this week, but it's on the Midtown list, it's propagating to lots of comics stores, and you need it: Jaime telling the sad story of Maggie's brother who nobody ever talks about, and Gilbert messing with everyone's mind. Plus Fantagraphics is running a special where all three issues so far of 'New Stories' are thirty bucks total." – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
"Finally arriving, the 3rd 'annual' version of Love and Rockets is, by all accounts, the best yet." – Chris Butcher, The Beguiling
Online Commentary & Diversions returns from the U.S. holiday:
• List:About.com: Manga places Moto Hagio's A Drunken Dream and Other Stories at #19 on their list of "50 Essential Manga for Libraries": "Collected for the first time in a gorgeous hardcover edition, A Drunken Dream offers a rare glimpse into the work of one of Japan's most distinctive and influential creators in shojo manga, and heck, manga, period. Worth recommending to both older teen and adult readers alike."
• Review: "Hagio draws these stories as if a full symphonic score were playing in the background. Her delicate, razor-thin pen line expertly captures her characters’ wide-eyed, open-mouthed anguish effectively. [...] I, certainly, am very glad that Fantagraphics made the effort (and judging by the exceptional production values it was a tremendous effort) to get this book out there ...because... beyond Hagio’s historical significance, [A]Drunken Dream [and Other Stories] is a book that deserves attention." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "Ever since it was announced in March (was it really that long ago?), I’d been looking forward to reading [A Drunken Dream and Other Stories] by legendary Moto Hagio. [...] It would be a real shame if Fantagraphics didn’t get any supportive business from this collection and demand for more. [...] I’m looking forward to reading more, and adding to the crying list!" – Sunday Comics Debt (who also provides the following two links)
• Review: "BUY. THIS. BOOK. No, seriously, buy it now. [...] I don’t think there is a single thing wrong with this book; Hagio-sensei touches on each of the topics she chooses to use with such perfection and …delicacy? that you can’t help but be amazed at how she does it. [...] I can’t wait for the next volume of manga Fantagraphics chooses to put out! They did a beyond amazing job with [A Drunken Dream and Other Stories]." – Kelakagandy's Ramblings
• Plug: "This week... everything fades in the presence of a newly-released collection of short manga from shojo pioneer Moto Hagio, A Drunken Dream and Other Stories. [...] Simply put, this book is gorgeous. [...] This is a release I’ve been eagerly anticipating since its announcement. Visit your local bookstore to find out why." – Melinda Beasi, Manga Bookshelf
• Review: "'Greatest Generation' hoopla will never seem the same after You’ll Never Know: Collateral Damage, book two in Carol Tyler’s sprightly but relentlessly honest 'graphic memoir'... [T]his is the story of not just a family but a generation, or two or three. And all are told with a saving dash of humor. Tyler’s form, a mix of scrapbook, diary, and cartoon panels, is likewise messy and eccentric, but it pays off in layered textures and viewpoints. Two famous precedents, Art Spiegelman’s Maus and Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, seem almost one-dimensional by comparison." – Eric Scigliano, Seattle Met
• Review: "While there aren’t necessarily many surprises in the story, Set to Sea is more about the savoring of a series of vivid moments (both for the lead character and the reader) than any sort of narrative complexity. With each page acting as a single panel, the true joy of reading Set to Sea is luxuriating in Weing’s intense crosshatching and detail. [...] Indeed, in a book whose visuals have such a powerful impact, Weing’s decision not to overwrite (and especially not to over-narrate) was his wisest. With nearly 70 of the book’s pages appearing as silent, the result was a book that understood and maximized its charms." – Rob Clough, The Comics Journal
• Interview:Nicola D'Agostino presents the original English text of the Drew Weing interview which ran at Comicsblog.it so you don't have to struggle through the mangled autotranslation: "So one day in 2005, I drew a panel with a guy sleeping. The only thing I knew about him was that he was a big fellow. I spent more than a year adding to it bit by bit, just improvising panels as I went. I started Set to Sea with no idea that it would be set in the past, or even set on the sea, so to speak!"
• Review: "...[T]he Billy Hazelnuts books are safe for children, while still being unique and complex enough for adults. Here Millionaire combines a gung-ho adventure spirit with a tempered yet still present darkness — two strains that have been the keys to so much of the greatest children’s literature. [...] Tony Millionaire is a genius and the Billy Hazelnuts books may be his best work. Imagine if Beatrix Potter had dropped acid with the 60s underground comix crowd or if A.A. Milne had collaborated with Franz Kafka. If you love fun, hilarious, and plain weird stories, then Billy Hazelnuts is for you." – Lincoln Michel, The Faster Times
• Profile/Preview: A gallery of images from the book accompanies this article: "See the work of Dan DeCarlo in the book The Pin-Up Art of Dan DeCarlo, published by Fantagraphics, which plunges into an alternate universe where Betty, Veronica, Sabrina grew up and live out situations that summed up the lewd sexual desire of men in the time before the sexual revolution of the twentieth century." – Ambrosia (translated from Portuguese)
• Interview: At his Cats Without Dogs blog, Jason presents a brief Q&A he recently did with the Spanish newspaper El Periodico de Catalunya: "I can hear the voice of a woman, from somewhere above me. 'Don't cry,' her voice says. 'One day you will see Neal Adams at a comic book convention in America.'"
• Feature:USA Today Pop Candy's Whitney Matheson spotlights Jim Woodring and his giant pen project: "I can't wait to see the pen and the drawings! (Also, can we start a campaign to get a live demonstration in New York?)"
• Commentary: At The Hooded Utilitarian, Ng Suat Tong surveys the use of buildings in comics and then looks specifically at architecture in Josh Simmons’s House
• Review: "The real reason to read Lucky in Love, of course, is DeStefano's art, which is intensely expressive and cartoony, among his best work, with fabulous panel designs, wonderful grotesque characters, and amazing energy throughout." – Andrew Wheeler, The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
• Review: "The Book of Mr. Natural by the legendary and infamous... R. Crumb is a gorgeous mini-coffee table comic book published by Fantagraphic Books. [...] This book is for Mr. Natural’s legions of cult followers, 60’s believers, as well as new and younger readers who can hack the raunchy non-PC wisdom the guru ejaculates." – Phil Semler, San Francisco Book Review
• Review: "Culled from the output of postcard self-publisher and Wisconsin native Norman Pettingill, this triumphant collection of outsider art offers an insider view of a world that most viewers of the work probably won’t enter. Pettingill’s concern was with the insular existence of backwoods hunters, from their lodges to their excursions, pulling humor from the grotesque and bawdy elements in a style that mixes the works of cartoonists like Basil Wolverton and Harvey Kurtzman, and the sweeping tapestries of Hieronymous Bosch. Satire abounds, but no matter how ugly it gets, it’s never vicious — this weirdness is all part of the landscape of Pettingill’s life." – John E. Mitchell, North Adams Transcript
• Interview:Comic Book Resources' Shaun Manning has a thought-provoking chat with our own Kim Thompson about his translation projects, including our recent Jacques Tardi books and the upcoming Milo Manara collections for Dark Horse: "Generally, my core belief is that you have to betray the source material to remain faithful. The Italians have the phrase, 'Traduttori, Traditori,' meaning, 'translators, traitors,' which most would read as an insult but I read as sound advice."
• Interview in the Future:Drew Friedman will be the guest on Bob Andelman's Mr. Media show on BlogTalkRadio on October 4 at 11 AM (not sure what time zone) — start prepping your questions for the call-in session!
First a bit of related happy news: Peter Kuper's "Ceci n'est pas une comic" (which Peter generously allowed us to host here following its various print appearances) was selected for inclusion in Best American Comics 2010, edited by Neil Gaiman.
This week we're pleased to bring you a sexy & romantic Flog-exclusive unpublished 5-page story by Dame Darcy, a hilarious new strip by Stephen DeStefano which will run for the next 11 weeks, and our usual weekly visit with the President from Steven Weissman:
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