• List/Coming Attractions: On Publishers Weekly's "Spring 2011 Adult Announcements" preview, the following upcoming titles rank on The Top 10: Comics & Graphic Novels:
"Many recent comics biographies have been presented as educational material, but Wilfred Santiago's 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente uses a more expressionist style to tell the story of the baseball superstar who rose from poverty to the top of the game and died a hero's death. Long in the making, it arrives just in time for opening day."
"The comic strip gets a much needed new edition of the first volume of Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse, Vol. 1: Race to Death Valley. While perhaps an unexpected gem, Floyd Gottfredson's tough, bold mouse is a seasoned adventurer and these are driving, hard-boiled tales. After reading this volume, you'll never look at Mickey, the tuxedo-clad corporate spokesmouse, the same again."
• List:Carve Your Name Comics' Greg Townley (a.k.a. "Johnny") names his top 20 favorite comics and graphic novels of 2010:
"14) Werewolves of Montpellier by Jason — Jason’s work is haunting and surreal. I love all his books, but this one earns high points for including a character based on Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffany’s. [...] Jason’s allusion to the complex film icon really elevates this book."
"17) Wally Gropius by Tim Hensley — This book is like Richie Rich on acid – one of the most original, visually exciting books I’ve read this year."
"20) King of the Flies- 1. Hallorave by Mezzo and Pirus — King of the Flies, the first part of a proposed trilogy, is surreal and unsettling. It requires repeat readings to unearth the interwoven secrets at play."
• List: At his X-Ray Spex blog Will Pfeifer names Love and Rockets: New Stories #3 one of his Graphic Novels of the Year: "Gilbert's stuff is a lot of fun (and a lot of weird, too), but it's Jaime's shattering look back at Maggie's troubled past that elevates this book above even Love and Rockets' normally stellar standards. 'Browntown' is one of the best stories ever to appear in Love and Rockets, and if you know how brilliant the book is — easily one of the best comic series ever — you know that's high praise indeed."
• List: Also at X-Ray Spex, Pfeifer lists his best Books About Comics of the Year, including:
From Shadow to Light: The Life and Art of Mort Meskin by Steven Brower: "...[W]hen I started collecting in the late 1970s[,] Meskin's art stood out, mostly because his figures and compositions always seemed to explode off the page. And now there's an elaborate book that (a) examines his whole life (b) reprints lots of vintage art and (c) includes plenty of originals? Tell me this isn't the best time — ever — to be a comic book fan."
Four Color Fear: Forgotten Horror Comics of the 1950s: "...[T]his is a great collection, with vintage work from Basil Wolverton, Joe Kubert, Howard Nostrand, Bob Powell and especially Jack Cole, who delivers a couple of twisted masterpieces here. Also, there are fascinating, detailed end notes and a lurid collection of covers in the middle."
• Review: "Jacques Tardi’s It Was the War of the Trenches is pretty brutal. [...] It’s one thing to read about the brutality of trench warfare, another entirely to experience it in the way Tardi details it here. This wasn’t an easy read — I alternated between anger and horror the whole time — but it was a good one." – Brigid Alverson, Robot 6
• Review: "It's all very well told, with realistic details coming through even when the art takes such a cartoony style, but being the first half of a two-volume series, [Lucky in Love Book 1] is somewhat incomplete, setting up themes that will presumably be dealt with later. Still, it's quite good. However, there was one scene that I thought was excellent on its own and stood out in the memory the most. [...] War is hell, with effects reaching far outside and long beyond the actual conflict, and this scene manages to illustrate that rather effectively." – Matthew J. Brady, Warren Peace Sings the Blues
• Plug: "Ray Fenwick's Mascots is... narrated by Cthulu... I think. [...] What Fenwick paints is funny and punny, but also unexpectedly observant with just a little bit of metaphysical musing thrown in. I know that doesn't make too much sense as a combination, so just read these pages and maybe you'll understand." – Julia Pohl-Miranda, 211 Bernard (Librairie Drawn & Quarterly)
• Review: "Among the highlights of [Usagi Yojimbo:] The Special Edition is the ease of witnessing Sakai’s growth as a writer, artist and storyteller. While the illustration in the earliest chapters is already solid, Sakai’s linework grows visibly more assured and looser, giving the pages a liveliness not seen in many comics. Similarly, the layouts evolve to capture the quiet elegance of the Japanese countryside, the gut-turned terror of Jei (comics’ best villain) or the kinetic ballet of a samurai duel in pitch-perfect fashion. ...Fantagraphics makes Usagi look great with this collection. ...[F]or [hardcore] Usagi fans, The Special Edition is everything you could want. And anyway, with this series, everyone should be hardcore." – Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama
• List/Plugs/Coming Attractions: At Hypergeek, Edward Kaye highlights no fewer than 7 of our 2011 releases in his roundup of "Comics, Graphic Novels, and More Worth Looking Forward to in 2011"
#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."
#10: A Drunken Dream and Other Stories by Moto Hagio: "Ten spooky, perceptive stories of girls and ghosts in trouble from one of the masters of shojo manga, who has her work translated into English for the first time."
#5: Set to Sea by Drew Weing: "He may look like a big lug, but he’s got dreams of the ocean and the heart of a poet. The hero of Weing’s salty debut sails off to adventure in this pocket-size sea-shanty of a graphic novel."
#1: Wally Gropius by Tim Hensley: "A candy-colored absurdist comedy about a teen so wealthy he barfs $100 bills, this ridiculously enjoyable book reads like Richie Rich on LSD."
• List:NPR's Glen Weldon names Cathy Malkasian's Temperance one of "The Year's Most Transporting Books": "Amnesia also plays a role in Cathy Malkasian's huge, haunting — and hauntingly beautiful — graphic novel Temperance. [...] Malkasian's plot is loose and elliptical, and she pokes at many of the same salty psychological truths that made the Brothers Grimm so grim; lies, guilt and violence buffet her characters about like gale-force winds. You won't know where the story's going, but Malkasian's pages are gorgeous, sweetly melancholic things, and you'll enjoy the trip."
• Review: "...[One of the] Books of the Year... An expansive allegorical fable, ...Temperance speaks to our times with prophetic pointedness. [...] A uniquely imaginative book, Temperance is an example of how a sepia-toned pencil can sing." – Neel Mukherjee, The Times
• List: At Attentiondeficitdisorderly, Sean T. Collins names Prison Pit Book 2 by Johnny Ryan one of his Comics of the Year of the Day, saying "take how you felt during the baseball-bat scene in Casino, then make a book out of it."
• List: British cartoonist Matt Brooker offers up his Best of the Year at the Forbidden Planet International Blog Log, including 2009's You Are There by Jacques Tardi & Jean-Claude Forest: "Alongside Mœbius’ The Airtight Garage of Jerry Cornelius, this is the defining classic of 1970’s Bande Dessinee, but unlike The Airtight Garage you really need to be able to read the dialogue to make it worth owning… this first English translation has been much too long coming, so I was delighted to be able to read You Are There at last. It was originally conceived as a screenplay, and reads like one of those particularly mad Sixties films (like Peter Sellers’ Casino Royale or The Magic Christian) of which I’m so unreasonably fond."
• Review: "The always-superb Jason too has a book out this year: Werewolves of Montpellier. Droll, laconic as always, dry as drought, and hilarious and sympathetic in equal measures... A mad, lovely and bright book." – Neel Mukherjee, The Times
• Review: "While we’re on the subject of Jason, it wouldn’t do to leave out a mention of Almost Silent, a deluxe collection of four of his earlier books... The book is worth searching out for [You Can’t Get There From Here] alone. It’s the longest story in the book and is a retelling of the Frankenstein story as a love triangle without words, set off by a Greek chorus-type duet between two hunchbacks." – Neel Mukherjee, The Times
• Review: "Destroy All Movies is a product of the tireless DIY work ethic: It is one of the most painstaking books ever written on punk rock. As such, it stands in the rarified league of Banned in DC, Fucked Up & Photocopied, and the long out-of-print masterpiece Loud 3D. Carlson and Connolly have managed to make a volume with both intellectual relevance and deep entertainment value. And if you don't have time to actually read through all 1,000 entries, it's still a blast just to look at." – Sam McPheeters, Bookforum
• Plug: On the Matablog, Matador Records co-founder Gerard Cosloy says "If I celebrated Xmas and/or hadn’t already purchased a copy, I’d be asking Satan Santa for the newly published Destroy All Movies!!!..." and calls it an "amazing tome" (link via our own Janice Headley)
• Plug: "This book is out of control. [...] The research that went into [Destroy All Movies!!!] is unfathomable. They even tracked down every instance of a punk in a made-for-TV movie. The mind boggles. And then the mind puts on a Crass album and head butts some prep in the face." – Kyle Olson, The Hipster Book Club "2010 Holiday Gift Guide"
• Review: "Castle Waiting’s a pleasant, upbeat series, a great way to spend a quiet afternoon. If you’re looking for high adventure and action, it’s not here. This series is exploring the quiet places and the emotional beats that exist just beyond the screaming and bloodshed, and it’s doing so with style and wit. Castle Waiting comes highly recommended." – Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama
• Review: "EC was not the only company putting out good horror comics in the 1950s. Fantagraphics’ Four Color Fear: Forgotten Horror Comics of the 1950s shines the spotlight on some of the other comic publishers who were putting out great horror comics back then. [...] As great as the stories are perhaps the best feature is the 20 page note section that provides details behind each of the 40 stories in the book with fantastic anecdotes. There is also an index to all the companies publishing horror comics with a listing of titles and issue numbers making this a fantastic resource. Grade A+" – Tim Janson, Mania
• Review: "Since continuity usually plays second fiddle to the avalanche of inventive ideas, the strips can be read in almost any order and the debauched drunkenness, manic ultra-violence in the manner of the best Tom & Jerry or Itchy & Scratchy cartoons, acerbic view of sexuality and deep core of existentialist angst (like Sartre ghostwriting The Office or perhaps The Simpsons) still finds a welcome with Slackers, Laggards, the un-Christian and all those scurrilous, lost Generations after X. [...] If you’re the kind of fan who thrives on gorge-rousing gags and mind-bending rumination this is a fantastic and rewarding strip, one of the most constantly creative and entertaining on the market today and this latest collection [Little Maakies on the Prairie] is one of the very best yet. If you’re not a fan of Maakies this is the ideal chance to become one and if you’re already converted it’s the perfect gift for someone what ain’t…" – Win Wiaceck, Now Read This!
• Review: "This series is a non-stop rollercoaster of action and romance, blending realistic fantasy with sardonic wit and broad humour with unbelievably stirring violence, all rendered in an incomprehensibly lovely panorama of glowing art. Beautiful, captivating and utterly awe-inspiring Prince Valiant is a World Classic of storytelling, and this magnificent deluxe [Volume 2] is something no fan can afford to be without. If you have never experienced the majesty and grandeur of the strip this astounding and enchanting premium collection is the best way possible to start and will be your gateway to a life-changing world of wonder and imagination." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Review: "One could easily spend hours thinking of the hard concepts Kelso brings into the book without ever hitting the reader over the head with any of them. It's a sign of her storytelling ability that we get all of this without it ever feeling like she's preaching to me. [...] Artichoke Tales, at its heart, is about how complex the world is, with no one quite able to figure things out. ...I thought this was a well-crafted book that shows the human side of a conflict. It's a sad tale, but one worth reading." – Rob McMonigal, Panel Patter
• Interview:Comic Book Resources' Chris Mautner has a very informative chat with our own Kim Thompson about our new line of all-ages Eurocomics books: "Well, to be honest, I’m not sure how many kids will actually be reading this. It’s hard to get kids interested in comics, and foreign comics are even tougher. I’d welcome kids reading it but I’m assuming 98% of the audience will be grown-ups who dig this particular material. That said, I’m always a little baffled by how sensitive grown-ups are about kids’ material."
• Interview: At AfterEllen, Ariel Schrag talks to Gabrielle Bell: "I definitely prefer reading fiction to reading comics, except for a very small percentage of comics. And when I was a teenager I wanted to be a fiction writer. I’m much more interested in films, too. I feel like I’m more interested in the potential of comics, rather than what they’ve already accomplished, whereas with films and novels I’m interested in what they’ve already accomplished."
Congratulations to Stephen DeStefano for being nominated for an Individual Achievement Annie Award ("Animation's Highest Honor") for Character Design in a Television Production for his work on Cartoon Network's Sym-Bionic Titan! (It's an awesome show.)
• Review: "A snapshot of Jason's career from 1997-2001, the stories in What I Did are also loosely thematically collected, circling around guilt as their central emotion. [...] There are many pleasures to be had from Jason's work, among them a wealth of clever cartoon metaphors and a impressively economic storytelling tricks. [...] At his best, Jason pieces together representations of complex thoughts and emotions through simple visual building blocks." – David Michelitch, Comics Alliance
• Review: "Somebody up there likes us. You need Destroy All Movies!!! in your life. It’s heartening to know that there’s people out there who are truly sick with it. Like, really, really obsessed with a single niche. Like cinematic punkers. [... Like] the very best books on cinema, ...this one will make you realise that you’ve only just scratched the surface of b-movies and provide a comprehensive education on some total rarities. [...] Fantagraphics have been sating a personal taste for the esoteric since my childhood, but this one really has blown me away." – Gary Warnett, Gwarizm
• Review: "...Lucky in Love is a very good book with an outstanding story and stellar art. The story is incredibly well written and Lucky, as a person, practically leaps off the page at you. His characterization was spot on... It’s hard to create a character that is so rich that anyone can relate to him, or her, but Chieffet and DeStefano have done it. [...] The influence of animation is evident and the images on the pages practically jump out at you. The book is predominantly 6 or 9 panel pages that are stuffed with detail. It's just fantastic." – Comics And...Other Imaginary Tales
• Review: "Moto Hagio’s stories are... masterful largely because she did not set out to be so. She wrote from the heart, stories that girls could understand, enjoy, identify with. [...] Moto Hagio is a woman, who draws stories for girls. She is a Master of her Craft. She is a groundbreaker in her field. None of these statements are contradictory.A Drunken Dream is a must-read for any serious student of manga. While you’re getting a copy, buy one for a niece or friend – and don’t tell them it’s 'important.' This way they’ll be free to just enjoy it, tropes and all." – Erica Friedman, The Manga Curmudgeon
• Plug: "[Fire & Water] is an incredibly well designed book chock full of amazing artwork. It’s a great biography of comics legend Bill Everett (who was descended from William Blake!) and his journey through the early days of the comic book industry." – A.G. Pasquella, Advent Book Blog
• Plug: "The elusive Golden Age cartoonist Fletcher Hanks achieved a level of surrealism that few comic book creators today can match. The man made simply the medium extremely strange on his own terms (see: Fantomah, his skull-faced jungle heroine). Words don't do his work justice..." – Cyriaque Lamar, "10 Graphic Novels That Make Great Gifts (for People Who Don't Read Comics," io9
[The Comics Journal interns Andrew Davis and Chi-Wen Lee put together a series of discussion questions about Stephen DeStefano & George Chieffet's Lucky in Love Book 1: A Poor Man's History for use in book clubs. As these questions are intended for those who have read the book, please be warned that they may contain mild spoilers. – Ed.]
At age 15, the only things on Lucky's mind are women, sex, movies, and, to some degree, the war. He fantasizes about being a hero, much like in the Tex Stengler films his friends and he watch. When he does enlist, however, it appears his "heroic" adventures consist of nothing more than removing guns from warplanes and failed attempts to get a girl. But the war has still changed Lucky in some way; whether he is conscious of it or not, he becomes more aware of social and racial perceptions.
What function does the book's disclaimer about characters' usage of racial slurs serve? Did the characters' usage of these terms affect your perception of the story?
How racially accepting is Lucky? Does he grow more fair-minded throughout the book?
In the story, has Lucky actually been "lucky" in any sense of the word?
Is Lucky ever "in love"?
Can you detect influences in Stephen DeStefano's artwork?
How is Lucky's encounter with the prostitute significant beyond being his first sexual experience?
Is Lucky a hero for serving in the U.S. Armed Forces during World War II?
Why is the third chapter entitled "Lucky Triumphant"?
Since the war had ended, Lucky's life in "Lucky Triumphant" takes a different tone compared to the first two chapters. Does the third chapter continue any threads begun earlier?
Did Lucky accomplish anything during his early years (the course of this book)? Does it matter?