The new Diamond Previews catalog came out yesterday and in it you'll find our usual 2-page spread (download the PDF) with our releases scheduled to arrive in your local comic shop in March 2012 (give or take — some release dates may have changed since the issue went to press). We're pleased to offer additional and updated information about these upcoming releases here on our website, to help shops and customers alike make more informed ordering decisions.
The Comics Journal has been, for almost 35 years, the standard bearer of critical inquiry, discrimination, debate, and serious discussion of comics as art, and the object of love and devotion among the comics cognescenti — and hate and scorn among the philistines, natch. We published our 300th issue in late 2009 and spent the ensuing year-plus re- conceptualizing the institution as an annual book-length “magazine” — over 600 pages long, chock full of the kinds of criticism, interviews, commentary, and history that has made it the most award-winning and critically lauded magazine in the history of comics.
This volume features a focus on R. Crumb’s most commercially successful project of his career, his comics adaptation of Genesis, including the most extensive interview he’s given on the subject as well as a long critical roundtable among six comics critics reviewing the book and debating each other over its merits; plus:
• An interview with Joe Sacco about his recent journalistic masterpiece, Footnotes in Gaza;
• A peek into the private sketchbooks of (and accompanying interviews with) Jim Woodring, Tim Hensley, and the novelist Stephen Dixon;
• A conversation between Mad Fold-Out creator Al Jaffee and Thrizzle auteur Michael Kupperman;
• A complete full-color reprinting of the 1950s "Gerald McBoing Boing" comic;
• The first significant biographical essay charting the turn-of-the-century cartoonist and illustrator John T. McCutcheon;
• A critical re-assessment of Dave Sim's Cerebus by Tim Kreider
and essays and reviews by R. Fiore, R.C. Harvey, Chris Lanier, Rob Clough, and others.
Over 600 pages long, this is a year's worth of The Comics Journal rolled into one extraordinary objet d'art. As a special treat, this volume is guest designed by internationally respected Criterion art director Eric Skillman. The Comics Journal #301 is no mere magazine but a gigantic compendium covering comics past and present that will shock and delight every truly curious comics reader.
It is true: after much foofaraw and mishegas, The Comics Journal #301 went to the printer last week and is due to be available in May. (You may have come across an earlier version of the cover here on our website, but here for the first time is the final version.)
The Journal is reborn. In these 600+ pages: R. Crumb interview & critical roundtable on Genesis; Joe Sacco interview; Jim Woodring, Tim Hensley & Stephen Dixon sketchbooks; Jaffee & Kupperman in conversation; Gerald McBoing Boing; much more.
This volume is guest designed by internationally respected Criterion art director Eric Skillman.
See here for more information on the issue and stay tuned for updates and previews.
• Review: "What Is All This? is a potent, refreshing collection of previously uncollected short stories by Stephen Dixon. Though the music world might label this an 'odds-and-sods' collection, this volume cannot be dismissed so lightly. This? is a book that reminds us fans why we enjoy Dixon’s writing and gives inquiring neophytes an excellent opportunity to sample the kinds of things he has gotten up to over the last five decades." – Darby Dixon, The Quarterly Conversation
• Review: "A la hora de comentar Frank , resulta imprescindible hacer referencia a uno de sus elementos más característicos, que no es otro que el tono surrealista y psicodélico, – incluso psicotrópico o alucinógeno, por momentos – que sale a relucir en cuanto el protagonista interactúa con su entorno. En ese momento, sucede lo imposible y lo inesperado, fruto de la confluencia de 'las incesantes corrientes opuestas de naturaleza y abstracción' que derivan en la mutabilidad absoluta de objetos, animales… y el propio tejido de la realidad – por llamarlo de algún modo –, que se retuerce, cambia y evoluciona de forma sorprendente original y orgánica. Un disfrute para los sentidos, demostración inequívoca de la fecunda imaginación de Woodring..." – David Fernández, Zona Negativa (autotranslation)
• Scene/Profile: At Comics Comics, Frank Santoro talks about his pals John Pham & Jon Vermilyea, their respective bodies of work, hanging out with them in L.A. recently, and prospects in general for the young cartoonist (Photo: Frank & Jon at APE 2009, by yours truly)
Today's Online Commentary & Diversions from NPR, Techland–TIME.com, HTMLGIANT, Woot!, and elsewhere:
• List: At Techland–TIME.com, Douglas Wolk names his top 10 Best Graphic Novels of 2010:
#6: Weathercraft: "The first standalone Frank book from Jim Woodring is as gloriously mind-expanding as anything he's drawn. It's a wordless Hieronymous Bosch-via-Chuck Jones parable about cartoon animals in a cruel, psychedelic landscape, in which the wicked Manhog attains enlightenment, then sacrifices it again."
#5: Artichoke Tales: "Megan Kelso's magnum opus is technically a fantasy — her characters live in an imaginary country, riven by a civil war between foragers and canners, and have artichoke leaves instead of hair on their heads. It's also a set of meditations on the way cultures establish their identities through stories, and how both political violence and personal connections can damage or repair those identities."
#3: You'll Never Know, Book 2: Collateral Damage: "The second volume of C. Tyler's trilogy of family stories that crystallized around the revelation of her father's experiences in World War II turns personal tragedy into universal art. Everyone's stories deepen; everything is more complicated and sadder than it seems at first. And Tyler's incredible sense of design and color makes even her quietest images linger."
• List:Comics Alliance also ranks Weathercraft on their Top 10 Best Comics of 2010. Jason Michelitch writes: "Woodring is a cartoonist of frightening power, and Weathercraft is him performing at full strength, a high note sustained for every panel on 100 pages. His work is of a caliber where it's hard to know what to say about it, so struck dumb are you by the immensity of the rendering and storytelling skill on the page. [...] There is no other comic this year that so successfully creates such a viscerally compelling and hermetically individual fictional world, or which displays such a thorough mastery of visual storytelling, provoking complex thoughts and feelings with simple, beautiful strokes. Weathercraft is essential."
• List: Oh mercy, it's The Daily Cross Hatch's epic and essential end-of-year top-five survey The Best Damn Comics of 2010 Chosen by the Artists. Below, in order of appearance, the books chosen, who chose them and how/if they ranked them; click over for any commentary:
Artichoke Tales by Megan Kelso: Ellen Abramowitz (MoCCA Executive Director), #3; Darryl Ayo Brathwaite (Little Garden Comics), unranked;
Weathercraftby Jim Woodring: Brian Heater (The Daily Cross Hatch), #4; Gabby Schulz/Ken Dahl (Monsters), #4
• List: At Four Colours and the Truth, Tim Reinert names Drew Weing's Set to Sea one of his Favourite Comics of 2010: Best Original Graphic Novels: "A unique adventure story that skirts the line between high concept art book and ribald adventure tale quite well. Weing’s patient pacing, and unerring knack for maximizing panel space make him an interesting talent to watch out for."
• List: At The SF Site: Nexus Graphica, Mark London Williams and Rick Klaw each count down their Ten Best Comics of 2010 in tandem, in two parts covering #10-6 and #5-1 (with additional commentary from Mark at Guys Lit Wire):
• List: At Comikaze, Mauricio Matamores names Love and Rockets: New Stories #3 one of Los Mejores Cómics de 2010: "Published by Fantagraphics, this title presented top-notch storytelling by the Hernándezes and perfection with Xaime, specifically." (Translated from Spanish.)
• List: Also at Comikaze, Santiago Fernández names Yo maté a Adolf Hitler (I Killed Adolf Hitler) one of Los Mejores Cómics de 2010: "This [Norwegian] author seems to tell his story of time travel, Nazis and romance as though he were a 10 year old child, proof that this is a fun story even though it really is rather complex, complete with a message that provides sweetness. Great gift for the girlfriend." (Translated from Spanish.)
• Interview (Audio): Mark Herz of Connecticut NPR affilliate WSHU visits with Bill Griffith in his studio to talk all things Zippy
• Interview: Jason Toon of Woot! talks to Zack Carlson & Bryan Connolly about Destroy All Movies!!! The Complete Guide to Punks on Film: "We can't stop even now. It's become a depressing compulsion. We can't enjoy a movie the way you would. Actually, it went beyond watching movies. We got so immersed in what we were doing, when we'd take a break to go get a pizza and see a kid riding by on a skateboard with blue hair, we'd try to pause reality."
• List: On WFMU's Beware of the Blog, WFMU DJ Nat Roe's multi-media Top 15 includes Jim Woodring's Weathercraft at #5: "Stick a straw in my brain and suck until there's nothing left but that gurgling sound of air, the remnants of carbonation gathered like patrons in a bar on a Tuesday night 'last call' at the other end of the straw; that's how Jim Woodring makes me feel."
• List:Drawn contrubutor John Martz picks 3 of our titles among his Favourite Books of 2010:
"Bent is the latest coffee-table art book from Canadian cartoonist-turned-painter Dave Cooper. We get to drill further into Cooper’s psyche in this book, which continues the celebration of his singular, artistic vision — an alien landscape of writhing, female figures and strange vegetation."
"What Charles Addams is to the New Yorker, Gahan Wilson is to Playboy. And here we have three gorgeous hardcover volumes of his work - page after page of full-colour cartoons celebrating the macabre and the twisted. Perfect for the creep or the creepy in your life."
"Jim Woodring’s masterful cartooning is showcased in this latest graphic novel featuring his familiar cast of characters including Frank, Manhog, Pupshaw, and Pushpaw. It’s never easy to discern what Woodring’s comics are about, but there is never any question as to what is happening in each panel. Such is the control and understanding he has of both the medium and his tools. Weathercraft is a silent movie governed by dream logic and the id."
• Review: "I know that it’s still December 2010 – and not even the end of December, the point where we all make our lists of the best of the year – but it’s possible that I’ve already read my favorite book of 2011. Its name? Stigmata. [...] It’s a smart, beautifully written book that refuses to offer easy answers... But, as good as Piersanti’s story is, what made the book a classic for me is definitely Mattotti’s artwork. [...] Mattotti’s line is amazing, so filled with personality and intensity, at once angry and fiercely controlled, and used in the service of some amazing draughtsmanship and visionary visuals. [...] It’s breathtakingly good, no exaggeration." – Grame McMillan, Robot 6
• Review: "Not only does this issue of cartoonist and designer Jordan Crane's series feature a pair of quality comics from his two established areas of strength..., it carries with it all the joys of the format. ...Uptight #4 stings then pleases like a jump for effect off of a swimming pool's high-dive. [...] All in all, this a fine little read, a delectable peek of lasting hand-held value into what one of the really good cartoonists is up to." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
• Review: "Admittedly, these are not special stories in the sense that they represent anything unusual from the norm, but that is certainly at the center of their power. This is something that if we have not faced yet, we know we will, and Farmer’s ability to capture it all is clear-eyed. It’s a remarkable achievement considering the situation, and Farmer has a way of uniting the readership in one collective deep breathing session that lets us know we are not alone in the wider scope of coping with loss. ...Special Exits exists as a graphic novel of considerable depth and meaning." – John Seven, Archive 7
• Review: "Dixon... is a master of the short story, and this handsome volume [What Is All This?] gathers 26 pieces that hadn’t previously been published in book form. An indispensable addition to a formidable body of work, which also includes 14 novels and a pair of National Book Award nominations, it’s classic Dixon. His prose is so taut it would make Hemingway blush, and Dixon’s brutal honesty figures to redden the faces of some readers. He never shies from exploring common neuroses through characters who can be unsympathetic, or worse, contemptible, but his prodigious skill as a storyteller overrides any unease he generates. Wringing meaning from the mundane, Dixon gets beyond mere personality to the interior lives of the people he fleshes out, warts and all." – John Lewis, Baltimore Magazine
• Review: "Delivered in monochrome and a selection of muted paint wash and crayon effects, the compellingly inviting blend of cartoon styles (reminiscent of our own Posy Simmonds but with a gleeful openness all her own) captures heartbreak, horror, humour, angst and tragedy in a beguiling, seductive manner which is simultaneously charming and devastatingly effective, whilst the book and narrative itself is constructed like a photo album depicting the eternal question 'How and Why Do Families Work?' Enticing, disturbing and genuinely moving, [You'll Never Know, Book 2:] Collateral Damage is a powerful and affecting second stage in Tyler’s triptych of discovery and one no student of the human condition will care to miss." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Review: "Andrei Molotiu has compiled an incredible anthology of non-narrativity and abstraction in his Abstract Comics: The Anthology 1967-2009. [...] Covering 43 different artists, Abstract Comics opens with a exemplary discussion of abstraction in comics books and its overlap with contemporary art... The book is an incredible resource of potentiality...; I can't recommend it higher." – Derek Beaulieu, Lemon Hound
• List: Emily Pullen of fave L.A. bookstore Skylight Books names Stephen Dixon's What Is All This? as one of her Favorites from 2010: "I have a crush on this book: the cover, the paper, the heavy ink. Touch it. Read two stories. Try not to bring it home with you. Fail."
• Review: "The Complete Peanuts 1977-1978 showcases an era when Schulz's drawing was still at its peak, and his story-making skills were perhaps greater than ever before — there are many long continuities, and Schulz had developed a pleasing knack of segueing from one storyline to another, in the vein of the great adventure strips of his youth." – Andrew Wheeler, The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
• Review: "In The Troublemakers, Hernandez plays with notions of trust and betrayal, naïveté and suspicion. [...] Ultimately, The Troublemakers is a con-movie in comic-book form, well aware of itself, and quite enjoyable in its context. [...] If it were a film, it would be a schlocky guilty pleasure; but in Hernandez’s hands, The Troublemakers ascends to become a stylized and quirky mindtrip, a mishmash of betrayals and surprises, with many more twists than you’ll see coming." – Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama
• Review: "Everything Burns draws seems molded from the same dark and shiny matter. [...] The climate of horror creeps in from the beginning of the narrative, but the author knows the exact time to surprise the reader. Violence is used in a measured way, unlike the majority of comics and films of the genre. Through works such as Skin Deep, Big Baby and Black Hole, Charles Burns is already regarded as one of the principal authors of horror comics of all time." – Gustavo Guimaraes, Ambrosia (translated from Portuguese)
• Review: "[The Littlest Pirate King]'s an engrossing story which is marred somewhat by another of those inconclusive endings which please some but only irritate me. The story's not really the show here anyway, though there is a lot of intellectual grist to mill in it — the quest to know and understand the whims and whys and wherefores of the divine being but one example. B's art is really something to see here; while cartoonish in a superficial sense, he displays a masterful command of composition and visual whimsy and many pages and panels adopt an expressionistic, almost Escher-like, complexity which thankfully does not hinder reading comprehension but rather enhances and illuminates, like all 'good' art should do. While I do wish it had a more definitive conclusion, this is still a visual treat and well worth checking out." – Johnny Bacardi, Popdose
• Review: "Tyler’s portrait of her family [in You'll Never Know, Book 2: Collateral Damage] is at once warm and unsparing; they have awful moments — drinking, bitterness, just plain cussedness (on everyone’s part — there are no saints here), but they also have the in-jokes and little celebrations that are such an important part of happy family life. She has a good ear for the way daughters talk about their mothers and the goofy humor of her parents’ generation — humor that even in real life, sometimes struck me as papering over something painful. Tyler shifts styles and points of view often, telling old and more recent stories in parallel, focusing on different family members, and changing her drawing and paneling styles to fit the topic." – Brigid Alverson, Robot 6
• Interview: At Bookslut, Sean P. Carroll, who writes "What Is All This?: Uncollected Stories... offers a fascinating perspective on [Dixon's] long dialogue with the short form. ...Dixon’s unmistakable style and experimentalism draws not only on his familiar New York City locale, but also includes unexpected digressions that offer ample evidence why he is one of our foremost practitioners of fiction. It is a masterful tome that exemplifies Dixon’s ability to transform the vagaries of the everyday into a lasting work of art," questions Dixon about the book: "Why did I rewrite all 62 stories? Originally there were about 80. I threw out about 20 of the stories of mine never in book form as not being worth republishing in book form. The 62 I did rewrite or finish, I thought worthy of book form, and I just wanted to either complete them as stories (the incomplete ones) or improve on the ones that had been in magazines."
• Plug: "Jason is still one of the comics medium’s leading artists, with a fantastic knack for visual storytelling before words. Continuing in the hardcover tradition of Almost Silent, What I Did collects three Jason favorites – 'Hey, Wait…' 'Sshhhh!' and 'The Iron Wagon' – into one elegantly bound book that will match perfectly on the shelf with the other omnibus-style compilations Fantagraphics has released for Jason." – Pads & Panels
• Profile: "Joyce Farmer is a surprise. The gentle, white-haired 71-year-old, whom you’d half expect to greet you at the door with a pan of steaming muffins, recently has emerged as one of the most provocative voices in the comics and graphic-literature landscape. Her debut book, the 208-page illustrated memoir Special Exits, chronicling the slow, freaky decline and ultimate death of her elderly parents, comes out next week from Fantagraphicscarrying the enthusiastic endorsement of no less than R. Crumb. 'It’s a completely unique work,' he says. 'Nobody else will ever do anything like that again.' [...] The book... is an almost uncomfortably honest memoir that’s dense with details. It’s also layered with meaning and sub-themes. [...] Like many memoirists, Farmer wrestled with guilt over airing her family’s stories; she even changed all the names in the book, including her own. 'I felt like I was really invading their privacy.' But she’s since come to terms with it. 'I just worked through it. I know what I did, and I take responsibility for it.'" – Deborah Vankin, The Los Angeles Times
• Review: "Destroy All Movies!!!is that very rare thing in publishing, a book you didn’t know you needed until someone wrote it. I certainly didn’t, and now I’m finding it indispensable. It’s an absolute must-have for cult-movie fans, movie trivia buffs, aspiring filmmakers and everyone who feels that punk never got its fair due for revolutionizing music and shaking up the status quo." – John G. Nettles, Flagpole
• Plug: "Destroy All Movies is a book on cult cinema... that is kind of the end all be all of ridiculous B-movies involving punks in any way, shape or form. It's at once a collection of titles, a love letter and a historical document. [...] It's a hell of an off beat and quite brilliant gift for the movie nerd or punk in your family!" – Quint, Ain't It Cool News
• Review: "...[Fire & Water,] Blake Bell's biography of Bill Everett (among other things the father of the Sub-Mariner but also the co-creator of Daredevil) helps to rectify an injustice by shining a spotlight on a cartoonist those importance and personality have never been properly recognized. A book which, without going into excessive detail, begins to clear the ground and, in particular, focuses heavily on the human element..." – Xavier Fournier, Comic Box (this is an improved translation by Kim Thompson of a previously-posted link)
• Review: "So, does it all mean anything? Who knows? But [Weathercraft] is certainly a fascinating read, full of arresting images that seem like they are triggering some deep impulse in our lizard brains, and that’s a pretty significant achievement in itself. If nothing else, it’s often quite funny... If you can accept that as something entertaining and play along with its dreamlike logic, you should be able to enjoy the book at the very least, and maybe you’ll even feel like you get something out of it. I know I did, and even if it was just confusion, it was worth it." – Matthew J. Brady, Warren Peace Sings the Blues
• Review: "The absence of words is matched by the most crazy drawings that depict surreal, unbelievable moments that make us stop to look again — and again. It's all so wacky and unusual that not infrequently we find ourselves laughing, reflecting on the silliness that we keep inside us all. For large and small, Weathercraft is sure to [bring] multiple pleasures." – Gilberto Custódio Junior, Soma (translated from Portuguese)
• Review: "Peanuts wasn't in its first flowering in the mid-70s... but it was still a smart, perceptive, deeply funny and humanistic strip. [...] The Complete Peanuts: 1975-1976 is the lucky thirteenth volume in Fantagraphics' reprinting of the entirely of Schulz's great strip; it's also the halfway point between 1950 and 2000. And the more interesting question about Peanuts circa 1975 isn't 'How come it wasn't as good then as in 1952 or 1967,' but instead 'How come Peanuts was still this good after twenty-five years?'" – Andrew Wheeler, The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
• Review: "Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez are not just two of the best and most consistent comics creators of their generation, they're so far out in front that the only question is which of the two is preeminent. [...] Year after year, they keep expanding and deepening their worlds, telling new stories as powerful as they've ever done — they're our Balzacs, our Trollopes. Besides their various sidebar projects... they're still providing a yearly dose of the mothership, in the annual Love and Rockets: New Stories trade paperback." – Andrew Wheeler, The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
• Review: "I originally posted this review on January 18, 2008. This was before I’d read much, if any, of Gilbert’s Fritz material from Love and Rockets. I think the review holds up, which is why I’m re-running it; but with all of Beto’s post-Palomar Palomar-verse work under my belt now, if anything I find Chance in Hell, both its content and its very existence, even more disturbing." – Sean T. Collins, Attentiondeficitdisorderly
• Interview:Robot 6's Tim O'Shea talks to Nate Neal: "Even in the conceptual stage, I knew The Sanctuary didn’t need any words to get the story across. With a made up language the words would take on a symbolic stance that they otherwise wouldn’t have. That helps get across one of the important ideas of the book: how things get fucked up when a society thinks too symbolically. Or at least thinks too symbolically without being aware that that’s what they’re doing. As far as I’m concerned, that’s the world we live in now!"
• Plug: "I finally cracked What Is All This?, Stephen Dixon’s mammoth collection of previously unpublished stories — and it’s terrific stuff. The book itself is also quite pleasing. Dixon still composes his stories on a typewriter (a Hermes Standard, the same brand Douglas Adams used), and Fantagraphics’ whiz art director, Jacob Covey, has mimicked the unevenness and smudges of typewritten text on the cover and section pages. It’s great design porn." – Nicole Rudick, The Paris Review
• Plug: "Thanks to the arrival this week of Castle Waiting 2, Linda Medley's second subversive collection of fairy tales, I'm on yet another kick of traditional fairy tales retold." – Nathalie Atkinson, National Post
• Plug: "...Mark Kalesniko’s Freeway is still a book I’m really, really looking forward to. It’s the continuing adventures of Kalesniko’s semi-autobiographical character Alex. I loved that book, I reckon I’m going to love Freeway just as much." – Richard Cowdry, The Forbidden Planet International Blog Log
Thanks to our pals at Atomic Books in Baltimore for this photo of Stephen Dixon reading from his new collection What Is All This? to a packed house at their fine establishment last week. Click the image for a better view.
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