Brother Mario made a surprise appearance with the rest of the Hernandez clan for their Love and Rockets signing on Friday morning, which I only managed to capture with my crummy, crummy cameraphone.
Moto Hagio was joined for the second half of her signing by Carol Tyler, who brought flowers swiped from outside the convention hall.
Andrei Molotiu and Stephen DeStefano made their first Comic-Con signing appearances with us. Andrei, though best known for his work with abstract comics, is also a whiz with the representational sketch, as he proved in my sketchbook. Stephen obliged another fan with a 'Mazing Man sketch.
I missed getting any actual photos of Johnny Ryan & Esther Pearl Watson during their Friday signing, but here's their whiteboard sign-in. Esther's is particularly funny if you know the secret symbolic code from Unlovable.
Friday's final signing was a special treat as Blake Bell was joined by Wendy Everett, daughter of Bill Everett, subject of Blake's new book (and an almost-immediate con sell-out) Fire & Water.
We're pleased to present this brilliantly animated teaser video for the upcoming graphic novel Lucky in Love Book 1: A Poor Man's History by Stephen DeStefano & George Chieffet. The video was art directed by Stephen, no stranger to the animation industry, and brought to life by animator Miguel Martinez-Joffre. You can ask Stephen all about it today from 4:00-5:00 at Comic-Con when he signs with us at booth 1718 (plus Saturday 5:00-7:00 and Sunday 10:00-noon). We've uploaded the video to YouTube and Flickr. We hope to have a higher-def version available soon, but in the meantime, enjoy!
• Review: "A book that sticks with you like a virus, Woodring's newest collection of tales of vague morality and definite oddity [Weathercraft] keeps intact his status as one of comics most eccentric auteurs. ... Woodring's wordless story is a looping and circumstantial affair, concerned more with fantastically rendered backgrounds — his starkly layered landscapes play like minimalist woodcuts of the deepest unconscious — than matters of plot and story. There is a creeping message of sorts, about the wages of greed and what happens to curious cats, but it's mired in a universe of deeply strange beauty and not always easy to divine." – Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
• Review: "...[A] gorgeously-produced best-of collection from shojo manga creator Moto Hagio, A Drunken Dream and Other Stories... The material showcased here has been assembled from across thirty years of Moto’s career, and shows her switching nimbly between storytelling modes. On the face of the evidence there was very little she could not do, some things she did well, and a few things she did magnificently. ... This book’s further evidence that 'shojo' need not be thought of as closed-ended and insular a category as “science fiction” once was." – Serdar Yegulalp, Genji Press
• Review: "Where most American gag strips were about the silly things that happen every day, Peanuts was about how to keep on living when you don't get what you want. It was still vital and true at this point [1973-1974], even if more and more of the stories focused on Snoopy quaffing root beers with Bill Mauldin, or writing bad novels, or playing tennis." – Andrew Wheeler, The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
• Review: "Medley has a real talent for character, and she does a wonderful job of exploring and expanding upon standard fairy tale tropes. With her signature creation, Castle Waiting, she takes the bare bones of several well-known stories and redrafts them to account for the human element. ... The first volume of Castle Waiting... is available in a gorgeous hardcover edition from Fantagraphics Books... and the finished product is stunning..." – Stella Matutina
• Plug: "Megan Kelso's Artichoke Tales... is earning comparisons with epics like Cold Mountain and The Thorn Birds, and Kelso's nimble, cartoonish two-color art will remind readers of Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis. – Michael Bagnulo, Shelf Awareness
• Interview:Stephen DeStefano talks shop in a "Cartoonist Survey" Q&A with David Paccia of David-Wasting-Paper: "I recall when I first got to DC Comics as a teenager, Joe Kubert lectured me on starting my reference file. This way, no matter what I wanted to draw, I always had a photo to reference. In this age of Google Image Search, the idea of a reference folder seems positively quaint!"
• Interview: At HiLobrow, Joshua Glenn presents a previously unseen 2002 Q&A (missing the Qs) with Kim Deitch: "Yeah, Waldo represents individualization. His edges can’t be smoothed off — even by me. That’s why I try not to over-use Waldo. If I haven’t got a good idea with him, I’ll let him sit on the shelf for years." (Via ¡Journalista!)
• Profile: The Cincinnati Enquirer's Lauren Bishop spotlights the Comic-Con-bound Carol Tyler: "It's sure to be quite a different experience from the last time Tyler attended Comic-Con, in 1988, when she received the inaugural Dori Seda Memorial Award for Best New Female Cartoonist. 'When I went, it was pretty small,' she says. 'I slept on somebody's floor.'"
• On the Jim Flora Art Blog: Electromechanical Design sales brochure; a children's book illustration detail; half of a 1950s business card illustration (above); and a link to the 1959 UPA animated adaptation of Flora's The Fabulous Firework Family produced by Gene Deitch
• Interview: In an interview with The Beat's Michael Fiffe, artist Mark Badger talks about his participation in Abstract Comics: The Anthology: "It came out of nowhere. It was absolutely stunning."
• Plug: "New from Fantagraphics Books, Newave! The Underground Mini Comix of the 1980s. At 888 pages this is a substantial collection of the comix art of the New Wave mini-comix movement. Largely inspired by the Underground Comix movement of the 60s & 70s, these artists produced hand-made mini-comix for the pure joy of creating uncensored self-expression without the appeasement and quench of profit motivation." – Skip Williamson
The first Online Commentary & Diversions of the new year might be the longest one ever, so let's get to it:
• List/Review/Interview: As part of The Comics Reporter 's unique series of critical discussions on notable comics of the decade, Tom Spurgeon talks to Tucker Stone about Kevin Huizenga's Ganges: "That's the thing about Ganges #3 that makes it a unique comic -- it cannot be told in another medium and work. How are you going to write that down, that aspect of Glenn chasing his own thoughts and memories about completely personal, mundane life aspects, without drawing the character swimming around in his own head?" Elsewhere, Sean T. Collins responds to some of Stone's points
• List:Robot 6 lists The 30 Most Important Comics of the Decade. In part one, Safe Area Gorazde by Joe Sacco is at #19 ("What's more, it showed that comics could handle not only tough subject matters, but deal with timely, true-life subjects in a hard-hitting, journalistic fashion"). In part two, The Complete Peanuts is at #15 ("If you believe, as I do, that we are living in the Golden Age of Reprints, chances are The Complete Peanuts is your Exhibit A")
• List:Newsarama's J. Caleb Mozzocco names his top 10 comics of the year, with The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book by Joe Daly at #8: "...[W]hat he delivers in the two stories collected in this book are unlike anything else I’ve seen in popular comics."
• List: Joe McCulloch of Jog - The Blog prefaces his Top Ten Comics of 2009 list with a "Top Five Caveats of 2009" list of reprinted or unread comics which includes Supermen! The First Wave of Comic Book Heroes 1936-1941: ("Supermen!excited me... for suggesting a burning, manic soul of superhero comics, a reckless freedom differentiated from pulp writing and feature films by gnarled visual style while set apart from newspaper strips by virtue of a restless hunger to entertain quick and hard. It felt like the start of a future, and the comedown only hit when I realized I enjoyed it more than any new superhero comic of 2009") and The Squirrel Machine by Hans Rickheit. On the Top Ten list proper: West Coast Blues by Tardi & Manchette at #8 ("Teeming with fleshy characters prone to bleeding and puking, rippled with burn lines of existential dismay, the story keenly exploits how the thrills promised by bloody adventure outside the law segue into the terror of governmental systems failing to protect their cozy consumer citizens") and Prison Pit: Book 1 by Johnny Ryan at #4 ("as visceral and gory as fantasy throwdowns get, while remaining almost contemplative in its plain-paneled studies of bodily movement").
• List: Patrick Montfort, blogging at Articulate Nerd, names his Favorite Comics of 2009: at #10, West Coast Blues by Tardi & Manchette ("A masterfully constructed crime story with an unlikeable protagonist caught in an unlikely circumstance, this very French graphic novel is superior to anything I've seen in the genre from an American cartoonist"); at #9, Abstract Comics: The Anthology ("Handsomely designed and smartly edited... one of the year's most unique releases... thrilling"); at #8, Prison Pit: Book 1 by Johnny Ryan ("Refreshingly devoid of any literary or artistic pretensions, this first of what I hope will be many, many volumes nevertheless comes across as somehow one of the smartest and well crafted books of the year"); at #7, The Complete Peanuts 1971-1972 and The Complete Peanuts 1973-1974 by Charles M. Schulz ("Really strong stuff here, including the 'Charlie Brown wears a sack on his head to summer camp' sequence, surely the 'Poison River' of Peanuts"); and at #2, The Squirrel Machine by Hans Rickheit ("Reminiscent of the best work of David Lynch, there are a lot of powerful themes humming just beneath the surface of the creepy and dreamlike narrative. This one hit hard, and I can't wait to read it again. Really, really impressive")
• List: Cartoonist David Lasky's Best Graphic Novels of the Decade include Safe Area Gorazde by Joe Sacco at #8 ("More haunting and harrowing than any TV news report on the subject") and The Frank Book by Jim Woodring at #10 ("Jim Woodring's cartoon animal, Frank, learns about life (the hard way) in an odd, visually lush, surreal world")
• List:Newsarama's Henry Chamberlain names the comics he was most intrigued by in 2009, including The Squirrel Machine by Hans Rickheit ("Hans Rickheit has been producing work like this for years and he has perfected a certain haunted and exquisite comics style. Take it from me, this story of two very strange brothers is the real deal.")
• List: Matthew Price of The Oklahoman names his top 10 graphic novels of the decade, with Joe Sacco's Safe Area Gorazde at #9 ("Joe Sacco's nonfiction account of the war in Bosnia was among the best ever examples of graphic novel journalism.")
• List: Edward Kaye of Hypergeek selects The Best Graphic Novels of 2009, including Low Moon by Jason ("At times both bleak and humorous, these beautifully absurd stories will leave you as speechless as one of Jason’s silent characters."), Love and Rockets: New Stories #2 by the Hernandez Brothers ("Los Bros. Hernandez continue to blaze trails with their originality, and the comic industry is better for it. This essential collection should be on every fan’s shelf."), Luba by Gilbert Hernandez ("It’s an astounding collection of stories about family, life, love, and heartbreak... [W]hen you read all of these powerful tales together in one place, you realise that Beto has created an epic here, unrivaled in its scale and depth. Words fail to express just how wonderful this collection is."), Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me by Peter Bagge ("It’s a brilliant piece of work, and perhaps Bagge’s finest achievement to date."), Locas II by Jaime Hernandez ("These tales of the lives of Maggie, Hopey, and Ray, are some of the most enthralling, and sometimes bizarre, stories ever told in the comic medium.") and You Shall Die by Your Own Evil Creation! by Fletcher Hanks ("...[T]hese surreal tales from the dawn of the super hero are uncompromisingly vivid, brutal, and at times, completely insane!")
• List/Coming Attractions/Plugs:Hypergeek lists The Essential Comics and Graphic Novels of 2010, including Almost Silent by Jason ("Jason is one of the greatest cartoonists in the world") and the year's books from the Hernandez Brothers: The Troublemakers ("I loved Chance in Hell, so this follow-up is a must for me. Beto is a wonderful storyteller, and an astonishing artist, so you can't go wrong picking this up, even if you've never read any L&R!"), High Soft Lisp ("This collection is essential for all L&R fans, as it collects together many of Beto's stories from the second L&R series, for the first time."), Penny Century ("Another essential collection for fans of L&R, collection Xamie's Penny Century stories from the Penny Century series and from Love & Rockets Volume II."), and Love and Rockets: New Stories #3 ("If it's a tenth as good as the first two volumes, we're in for a treat!")
• Review: "Magnificent art. Panels that range from three or so across medium-sized panels and the occasional painfully detailed and colored super-sized panel. An ongoing story...with blood and gore even! Dooming predictions, wounds, loss and death. Fantagraphics is to be thanked for working so hard to produce a book [Prince Valiant Vol. 1: 1937-1938] that shows Foster's artwork in a decent size and with the colors corrected." – Fred Kiesche, The Lensman's Children
• Review: "For a change of pace, it's nice to delve into some work from the great Steve Ditko and find nary a spider-man nor a strange doctor among them. Fantagraphics provides the ideal venue for doing so in Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 1... With the Fantagraphics logo on the sturdy spine, readers can expect — and receive — a top-quality package with crisp pages and handsome design. It's certainly attractive for some stories Ditko dismissed as 'junk,' but we all know there's treasure buried in trash." – Rod Lott, Bookgasm
• Review: "Issue #2 [of Sublife] saw a lot of [the] promise [of the first issue] fulfilled in a group of stories that ranged across both genres and visual styles... What connected each story was a common theme: the desire for family and the ways in which that need either created surrogate families or metastasized into something darker." – Rob Clough, The Comics Journal
• Plug:Robot 6 guest contributor Shaenon Garrity got Humbug for Christmas: "I love Harvey Kurtzman's failed magazine projects... Kurtzman never had much success in all his long career, but he had a talent for making smart people want to give him a hand... fun stuff. It's got a lot of work by Arnold Roth, whom I love."
• Coming Attractions:Robot 6 surveys numerous comics pros as to what they're looking forward to in 2010: in part 1, Evan Dorkin mentions several of our upcoming reprint collections; in part 2, Chris Schweitzer mentions Drew Weing's Set to Sea (July); in part 3, Jamie S. Rich mentions Lucky in Love by Chieffet & DeStefano
• Interview:The Daily Cross Hatch's Brian Heater continues (in part 3 of 4) his conversation with Carol Tyler: "I thought I could knock it out really quickly. That’s not case. But that’s not really stopping me, or anything. It’s just that, if it takes another six months to make this nicer, sweeter, and more wonderful, I want to. At first I thought I could get it all out in one package. I had it ready. But I’m not person who can write a script and then go illustrate it. I’m intuitive and I’m intuiting my way into this huge subject matter that hits me like a rock. There’s times when I can’t work because it makes me cry."
• Profile:Comic Book Resources' Shaun Manning talks to Dash Shaw about The Unclothed Man in the 35th Century A.D.: "I realize that some people think of comics as being storyboards, or as some kind of preliminary work for a movie, and that's very funny to me. But usually the people who think that are film-industry people who think EVERYTHING is preliminary work for a future film! A book, play, whatever! Ha!"
• Survey:The Beat's year-end survey of comics pros includes the following responses. From Jay Lynch: "When I think of comics in the 00s I think of: Johnny Ryan." From Mike Dawson: "What was the biggest story in comics in 2009? The Comics Journal moving almost exclusively online."
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