• Review: "We are witness to a man's life unfolding, unraveling, before us in a series of postcards that leave nothing — or is it everything? — to the imagination. I don't know Drew Weing, or whether he's lucky or good, but in Set to Sea , he has reminded me once again just how much story you can share in a brief flurry of comic panels, so long as you know how to trim the sails and catch the wind." – Steve Duin, The Oregonian
• Review: "...Set to Sea... is so much more than a hauntingly inspiring story about a poet who ends up on a sea vessel. It is so much more than page after page of highly-detailed illustrations. It feels like a small precious art book full of engravings or paintings on each page or an old illustrated maritime novel. [...] Weing’s art is mesmerizing. You could stare at one page for hours. Each page is carefully planned and crafted to maximize its storytelling ability and it is easy to see the love and effort that went into each line and crosshatch." – Shawn Daughhetee, The HeroesOnline Blog
• Review: "The pages [of Set to Sea] are incredibly expressive, able to convey longing, panic, rage, camaraderie, mourning, and ultimately peace. Weing manipulates whole compositions to achieve these effects, not merely the expressions on characters’ faces." – Joshua Malbin
• Review: "Drew [Weing] uses the possibilities of the medium to perfection [in Set to Sea], telling the life story of the guy page by page, somehow pulling the impression of a richly lived life through scattered moments." – Kevin Bramer, Optical Sloth
• Review: "Imagine Sad Sack stepping out of his cartoon world and into ours — warts and all — and that’s what Lucky in Love almost feels like. [...] The real star of the show here is artist DeStefano, who mixes up this 1940s world as one-part humor strip outrageousness, and one-part gorgeous Will Eisner-style dramatic noir — a real visual tour de force." – John Seven, Worcester Magazine
• Review: "Revealed in these pages [of A Drunken Dream and Other Stories] are gentle but dark stories that are preoccupied with the loss and alienation that their intended audiences no doubt feel, often without any tangible reasons beyond the purely psychological. Several stories stand out for cherry pickers, but you’ll be rewarded by each entry." – John Mitchell, North Adams Transcript
• Review: "...The Artist Himself... present[s] a compellingly fresh... approach to the history of the medium... What makes The Artist Himself unique is in the title itself — Rosenkranz has constructed a sprawling portrait of Rand Holmes as a man in conflict with the 'the artist himself' — a man trying to carve out a way to live that allowed for art (never an easy feat) and an art that somehow made sense in his life. ...[A]side from the obvious benefits of learning about Holmes, I found myself selfishly drawing tremendous inspiration from Rosenkranz as he demonstrated the richness possible in writing the history of comics. He draws the curtain back as if to say, 'see, here’s someone you hardly think of, who lived an extraordinary life, and it’s a life that must be reckoned within the history.' It radically broadens what we think of as a cartoonist’s life, and in that Rosenkranz has given us a great gift." – Dan Nadel, Comics Comics
• Review: "If Love and Rockets: New Stories #3 only contained Gilbert Hernandez’s 36-page 'Scarlet By Starlight,' it would still be one of the most significant new comics of the year. [...Jaime's] 'The Love Bunglers' and 'Browntown' offer the kind of rich, intricate stories — packed with sharp observations about human desire and self-justification — that only an author with 30 years of experience with these characters could write. But readers don’t need to have read all the previous Maggie tales to follow them. Everything a newcomer needs to know is woven neatly into the stories themselves... There are acclaimed filmmakers and novelists who can’t do what Jaime Hernandez does — or Gilbert, for that matter. When the two of them are at their most inspired, as they are here, they make almost every other comics creator today look like a fumbling hack. [Grade] A" – The A.V. Club
• Review: "I won't pretend to have a clue as to what Beto's trying to do with this stuff; sometimes he seems to be paying tribute of sorts to junk cinema and/or comment on the current state of the movies, and sometimes it seems like he just wants to draw to naked dudes beating a cop to death with a rock. ...Jaime is note-perfect throughout, using every nuance and trick at his command to engage and move the reader. It's a masterwork, and I'll be damned if I can tell what he'll do for an encore. ...[T]his one brings the goods. If you care at all about this series and those characters, you'll want to get this [issue of Love and Rockets: New Stories]..." – Johnny Bacardi, Popdose
• Review: "...[T]his one is really damn good, with a typically surreal and horrifying story from Gilbert and an excellent bit of character work from Jaime. Isn't it awesome that stuff on this level is what we've come to expect? [...] Yes, it's another great issue of one of the best comics series of all time; what else is new? Jaime and Gilbert are rightfully revered as all-time great creators, but the fact that they are still pumping out incredible work and bettering themselves, sure to keep doing it for as long as possible, should make readers celebrate their wealth and fortune. Even if everybody else quit, we would still be pretty lucky. Long live Love and Rockets!" – Matthew J. Brady, Warren Peace Sings the Blues
• Review: "You open a Xaime story, you know what you’re gonna get. He’s a known quantity/quality on the richest level... With Xaime, you’re going to get a perfectly-told Locas story: clean... and humanistic and relatable, funny, sad, the whole package. Beto, on the other hand …. His shit is scary creative, and sometimes just scary. Gilbert is the higher mathematics, you know what I’m saying? Ever since 'Human Diastrophism' I haven’t felt safe in his company, haven’t trusted that crazy bastard. Because he will do some fucked-up shit when you least expect it. [...] So, boom, right on Jump Street of Love and Rockets: New Stories #3 there’s a Gilbert story. Deep breath. Okay. In we go with gun and flashlight." – Rob Gonsalves, Rob's Comics Zone
• Review: "The colors are garish, the stories grotesque, and the art much freakier than the norm. Where EC’s comics are more akin to the drive-in fodder of American International Pictures, the comics in Four Color Fear are the equivalent of a David F. Friedman grindhouse roughie: lurid, exploitative, and just plain wrong. In short, this book is awesome. Making it even more awesome is Sadowski’s annotation: ...the layer of scholarship is enough to make reading about decaying zombies and devil-worshippers seem almost ennobling. [Grade] A-" – The A.V. Club
• Review: "Caricature is a bit of a dying art, but there’s still a place for it, especially in a celebrity-obsessed culture like ours that goes out of its way to make its idols look even better than they already do. That’s why we need Drew Friedman, whose precise, pointillist style has been putting the rich and famous to the sword for decades. His new collection, Too Soon?: Famous/Infamous Faces 1995-2010, features another round of his inimitable caricatures, which manage to make everyone from venal creeps to well-meaning politicians look alternately hideous and noble. Friedman is still at the top of his game... [Grade] B+" – The A.V. Club
• Review: "One of the lesser-known lights of the Golden Age, illustrator Mort Meskin was a prolific workhorse whose angular, action-packed style and use of deep shadow effects would prove a huge influence on Steve Ditko. From Shadow to Light: The Life and Art of Mort Meskin, a new biography of Meskin compiling exhaustive interviews with his peers and extensive cooperation from his sons, doesn’t lack for material. It also has plenty of great anecdotes, and through quality reproductions, it skillfully makes its case that its subject was a very talented artist. [Grade] B-" – The A.V. Club
• Review: "The 1930 DeMoulin Bros. catalog, or Catalog No. 439: Burlesque Paraphernalia and Side Degree Specialties and Costumes, ...reached the jester of a more or less pronounced sadistic orientation, and offered them the tools and effects that made it possible to fool friends (?) to put their heart in their throat and give them pain here and there. Fantagraphics Books has recently reprinted the directory again (along with several essays that comment on product selection in a cultural perspective)... Although one might prefer to avoid being exposed to the tricks that comprise the DeMoulin catalog, I must admit that I laughed both three and five times when I looked through the offerings. Most of us probably have a little sadist in us, I guess." – Kjetil Johansen, Nekropolis – Den Historiske Bloggen (translated from Norwegian)
• Plugs: "Well, in our rambunctious endeavour to keep up with the literary radness of the Northwest, we... want to point you toward [Jim] Woodring’s newest graphic novel, Weathercraft, which is out now from Seattle-based publisher Fantagraphic Books. In addition to Weathercraft, we personally recommend their series Love and Rockets, from Los Bros Hernandez. If you’re looking for some reading that really is graphic, like super sexy female bodies comin at ya with homoerotic undertones that are never unleashed but still drive you crazy, you’ll want to pick up Love and Rockets. This series is an endlessly delicious ride through the relationships of men and women in crappy southern California neighborhoods." – Lori Huskey, Dark Sky Magazine
• Profile:Robot 6 presents a "Comics College" introductory guide to the work of Kim Deitch, written by Deitch Universe expert Bill Kartalopoulos: "Kim Deitch is an enormously vital and prolific cartoonist who was also one of the charter members of the underground comix scene that changed comics in the 1960s and 70s. [...] More than forty years later, Deitch stands as one of the few underground cartoonists who has steadily and consistently produced a large body of important work, spanning every available format from the alternative weekly comic strip to the graphic novel."
• Interview:Al Jaffee touches briefly on his Humbug days in this extensive Q&A with Mother Jones's Michael Mechanic: "I loved Harvey [Kurtzman] and I miss him to this day. He was a very, very inspiring guy. He was inventive and inspiring and he also was just a scrupulous editor. He could catch things that most people would just say, 'Let it go through, it really doesn't matter; who's going to know?' But once Harvey pointed it out, I would change it even if it took me the whole day. Harvey knew how to make things work because he wasn't greedy, he wasn't successful." (Via ¡Journalista!)
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!