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Category >> Steve Ditko

Daily OCD: 12/24/09
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Steve DitkoreviewsPeanutsMichael KuppermanJim WoodringDash ShawCharles M SchulzBlake BellBest of 2009Abstract Comics 24 Dec 2009 3:41 PM

Online Commentary & Diversions will return next week. Have a great holiday!

List: From Alan David Doane of Comic Book Galaxy's not-technically-a-best-of end-of-year roundup: "...[O]f course Fantagraphics continued to make life better with its ongoing Complete Peanuts collections, and their Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 1 was also one of the treasures of the year, filled with tons of the master's weird and wonky comics."

Review: "...I enjoyed the hell out of this book. ... Not only did Portable Grindhouse remind me of ye olden days, it also gave me quite a laugh. You won’t believe some of the ridiculously schlocky movies that are included in this book. I honestly can’t recommend it enough. It’s the perfect book for anyone who understands the art of the guilty pleasure and the joy in a terrifically bad movie, as well as those who took great joy in the hunt for home video entertainment. Portable Grindhouse: The Lost Art of the VHS Box gets two thumbs WAY up!" – Chad Derdowski, Mania

Review: "...Tales Designed to Thrizzle, whose first four issues have just been anthologized as a hardcover... bring[s] a slick, hyperreal illustrative consistency that amplifies the already dreamlike mixture of familiarity and strangeness, which permeates [Kupperman's] deadpan surrealist slapstick." – Doug Harvey, LA Weekly

Interview: The latest in this week's series of Dash Shaw interviews is with Entertainment Weekly. Interviewer Darren Franich calls Bottomless Belly Button "a genuine masterpiece" and says the stories in The Unclothed Man in the 35th Century A.D. are "gut-punchingly wondrous." Teaser quote from Dash: "Unclothed Man, to me, is about figure drawing and figure drawing classes and what it’s like to be a figure drawing model. If you pick up an old How to Draw the Figure Book, it’s always Pin-Up girls. Like, How to Draw This Reclining Hot Chick. The sexual undertones are obviously there in the drawing, but the classroom is such a weird academic repressed environment."

Profile: Wider Screenings presents a video profile of Australian artist and Abstract Comics contributor Tim Gaze (link updated 12/29)

Things to see: Good heavens, what has Jim Woodring done to Manhog this time?

Daily OCD: 12/22/09
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Zak SallyThe Comics JournalSteve DitkoreviewsJoe DalyJim BlanchardJaime HernandezHans RickheitGabrielle BellDash ShawBlake BellBest of 2009 22 Dec 2009 3:01 PM

Online Commentary & Diversions for you:

List: FEARnet names Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 1 one of the Top 9 Comic Books and Graphic Novels of '09: "Shunning the spotlight of fans and the press, the artist has chosen instead to let his books speak for themselves. They continue to speak loudly, and with a weird grace lacking in much of his contemporaries' work."

List/Review: "Druggy noir vividly told, [The] Red Monkey [Double Happiness Book] is like watching Jim Rockford take a monster bong-hit before getting bashed in the jaw by some muscle of a rich guy in a bar bathroom. 'The Leaking Cello Case' and 'John Wesley Harding' are both contenders for short graphic fiction of the year, with pellucid plotting distorted by strange times and scary surprises. The artwork is like the more story-based finely crafted alternative comics of the 90s, and the sense of distorted place and identity as creative as fiction by Thomas Pynchon. If that seems lofty, start here and wait for Daly to one day unveil his Gravity's Rainbow." – Chris Estey, Three Imaginary Girls "Great Reads of 2009"

Review: "Thank you, Fantagraphics, for compiling 15 years of the Love and Rockets comic series into 700 pages of punk rock, heartbreak, and self-discovery. Locas: The Maggie and Hopey Stories presents Jaime Hernandez's indie masterpiece in the entirety of its run between 1981 to 1996... a serious contender for the American comic canon." - Aysha Pamukcu, Plasma Pool

Review: "OK, first, my initial impression of cartoonist Hans Rickheit’s new book The Squirrel Machine was one of amazement (a word I don’t bandy about indulgently) and bafflement. I am clear I am not grasping something — not an unpleasant feeling in this circumstance. ... As usual for Fanatagraphics, this book is well-designed and well-printed. Let me know if you figure out what it’s about, though not knowing made it no less fun for me." – Robert Birnbaum, The Morning News

Interview: Alice Parker of Comics Alliance gets a whole lot of info out of Dash Shaw: "As for me, I like a lot of different things. I'm not a discriminating reader of comics, which is a problem, I think. I can read just about any comic, but I definitely wouldn't read any all-word book."

Interview: And in your second Dash Shaw interview of the day, with Tim Needles of Short and Sweet NYC, some advice for aspiring artists: "The other thing is it’s probably going to be touch and go forever and you are going to have to do an absurd amount of work before you get a penny for it and even when you get that penny, it’s probably just going to be a penny. On the other hand it is really awesome to draw all the time and devote your life to it."

Interview: Jaime Hernandez and Zak Sally's must-read chat from The Comics Journal #300 is now online at TCJ.com

Things to see: In Gabrielle Bell's latest strip, more adventures with Kim Deitch and the search for Crumb

Things to see: A portrait of the great Harry Dean Stanton by the great Jim Blanchard

Daily OCD: 12/18/09
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Tim LaneThe Comics JournalSteve DitkoRoy CraneNoah Van SciverJoe SaccoJasonJacques TardiHo Che AndersonDrew FriedmanDash ShawDaniel ClowesCarol TylerBlake BellBest of 2009audioAnders Nilsen 18 Dec 2009 4:05 PM

Online Commentary & Diversions:

List: Critic John Seven names Safe Area Gorazde by Joe Sacco one of the Decade's Best Graphic Novels, in a list focused on "graphic novels for people who don’t want to read comics." (via The Comics Reporter)

List: Matthew Price of The Oklahoman gives Ganges #3 the 9th position on his 10 Best Periodical Comic Books of 2009: "Kevin Huizenga continues to be one of comics' brightest indie creators... Huizenga uses his talents to immerse the reader inside Ganges' head."

List/reviews/analysis: On the Inkstuds radio program, a roundtable of prominent critics (Sean T. Collins, Tim Hodler, & Chris Mautner) join host Robin McConnell for a discussion of 2009's standout books, including our two "You" books, You Are There by Tardi & Forest and You'll Never Know, Book 1 by C. Tyler

Reviews/analysis: The Hooded Utilitarian's contrarian critical roundtable of Ghost World marches on with Ng Suat Tong, Vom Marlowe, Kinukitty again, and more Noah Berlatsky, who also points out that you can follow the whole thing here

Review: "What's better than a new story by Jason? Why, several in one volume, of course! ...[T]he more of Jason's weird energy and quirky, poignant storytelling that I can consume at one time, the better. ... It's kind of a mystery how well he's able to do it, crafting easy-to-follow stories in such a minimalist style, but luckily, they're incredibly enjoyable, so one can easily get lost in them, forgetting questions of craft and technique because those aspects become all but invisible. ... [Low Moon] is another great example of the strange alchemy that Jason has mastered, drawing readers in to compelling tales of people caught up in oddly familiar situations, even when they're dealing with something that's off-kilter from reality as we know it. That's the Jason touch, and long may it continue to grace our pages." – Matthew J. Brady

Plug: In Richard Metzger's profile of Steve Ditko for Dangerous Minds, he says "I may be a little late to the game on this one, but I recently got a copy of Blake Bell’s Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko, a coffeetable book published by Fantagraphics last year and it is a wonderful and fascinating look at Ditko’s life and work. Kudos to Bell for putting together such a volume which was clearly a labor of love and unique erudition."

Interview: Excerpted in its entirety from The Comics Journal #300, the conversation between Ho Che Anderson and Howard Chaykin

Things to see: What's this, another "Blind Date" strip from Dash Shaw?

Things to see: Drew Friedman revisits a Sports Illustrated illo of Tiger Woods and Mike Tyson he did a while ago and ponders their subsequent role reversal

Things to see: If you haven't seen the comics section in the San Francisco Panorama from McSweeney's yet (featuring Dan Clowes, Chris Ware, Kim Deitch, Seth, Art Spiegelman etc.), Flickr user Steve Rhodes has a mess of photos of the whole dang paper

Things to see: Paul Pope draws Captain Easy in action (our Captain Easy, Soldier of Fortune: The Complete Sunday Newspaper Strips Vol. 1 is currently scheduled for February) (via The Comics Reporter)

Things to see: More cut-outs (older ones this time) from Tim Lane

Things to see: More Post-its from Anders Nilsen

Things to see: I'm happy to report that Noah Van Sciver's cartoon interviews for The Comics Journal continue at TCJ.com, kicking off with David Heatley

Daily OCD: 12/14/09
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Zak SallyTim LaneThe Comics JournalSteve DitkoRobert WilliamsRobert CrumbPrince ValiantPortable GrindhousePopeyePeter BaggeMomeMiss Lasko-GrossMichael KuppermanLove and RocketsLos Bros HernandezLilli Carrélife imitates comicsKim DeitchKevin HuizengaJohnny RyanJohn PhamJim WoodringJim BlanchardJasonJaime HernandezJacques TardiJacques BoyreauHumbugHans RickheitGabrielle BellFemke HiemstraFantagraphics historyFantagraphics BookstoreEC SegarDrew FriedmanDaniel ClowesCarol TylerBrian KaneBlake BellBest of 2009Basil WolvertonAnders NilsenAl Columbia 14 Dec 2009 6:04 PM

Oh man these Online Commentary & Diversions links really pile up:

List: The Daily Cross Hatch presents The Best Damned Comics of 2009 Chosen by the Artists, this year's edition of their essential annual survey of comics pros' top 5 comics. I won't quote all the lists' commentary here since that would steal some of their thunder (not to mention take me all night), but Pim & Francie by Al Columbia merits 5 mentions; You'll Never Know, Book 1 by C. Tyler is on 3 lists; The Squirrel Machine by Hans Rickheit, Tales Designed to Thrizzle Vol. 1 by Michael Kupperman, Like a Dog by Zak Sally, Prison Pit Book 1 by Johnny Ryan, Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me by Peter Bagge are all mentioned twice; and The Wolverton Bible, Locas II by Jaime Hernandez, Humbug, Popeye Vol. 4, Low Moon by Jason, You Are There by Tardi & Forest, A Mess of Everything by Miss Lasko-Gross, Prince Valiant Vol. 1, Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 1, and Lilli Carré's work in Mome all show up once each (plus a couple of 2008 releases like Zak Sally's Sammy the Mouse #2 and Bottomless Belly Button by Dash Shaw sneak in there)

List: Details magazine names Ghost World #10 on The 25 Greatest Gen X Books of All Time: "This caustically funny duo-tone tale follows the iconic cat-eyed adolescent Enid Coleslaw in her quest to find meaning, or at least cruel humor, in an age where everything's disposable."

Review: "Strange Suspense collects dozens of Ditko stories from the 1950’s... Almost a decade before Ditko moved to Marvel, these stories bear his unmistakable style. His fine line work and flair for the abstract that would serve him so well on Doctor Strange particularly, is on full display. ... If you only know Ditko for his work at Marvel or later at DC, here is the chance to explore Early Ditko, unconstrained by editors or the Comics Code. While all of this work is marvelous, clearly Ditko is best at home in horror where he could let his imagination run wild, creating monsters and demons and the things that go bump in the night. Rediscover Ditko today!" – Tim Janson, Newsarama

Review: "Brian Kane, author of the [Definitive Prince Valiant] Companion and surely the world’s foremost authority on the strip and its creator, Hal Foster, has once again done a herculean amount of work, and Fantagraphics has once again clothed that work in a sturdy, pretty volume. Prince Valiant hasn’t been treated this well since the ersatz King of England sang his praises. Those unfamiliar with the character – a young man who finds adventure, fame, and even love at the court of the legendary King Arthur – will find here all the background information they could ever want... But even long-time Prince Valiant fans will find plenty to fascinate them in this volume." – Khalid Ponte, Open Letters

Review: "Delphine is a morbid interpretation of the symbology of fairy tales resounding with echoes of unrequited love and abandonment. This is perhaps Sala’s darkest and most intricate story ever – impressive in its nuance and ever shifting emotions. One can only hope that it is not ignored." – Ng Suat Tong, The Comics Journal

Review: At The Hooded Utilitarian (a TCJ.com-hosted blog), reviewer Kinukitty kicks off a critical roundtable on Daniel Clowes's Ghost World on a contrarian note

Plug: "Just got Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol 1. Faaaaantastic! ... Raw and grotesque and beautifully drawn and presented." – Dave Gibbons (via consecutive Twitter posts)

Plug: Los Angeles Magazine highlights Conceptual Realism by Robert Williams and Sublife Vol. 2 by John Pham in their monthly roundup of books of local interest

Plug: Mike Sterling presents a brilliant panel from Popeye Vol. 4 and declares re: the book "Comics don't get much better than this."

Plug: Alison Nastasi of Horror Squad calls Portable Grindhouse: The Lost Art of the VHS Box "a tasty opus" and plugs last weekend's Fantagraphics Bookstore events

Plug: Boing Boing "Boing Boings" the Femke Hiemstra exhibit at Roq la Rue

Events: The Seattle Times' Christy Karras talks to participants in yesterday's Portable Grindhouse panel discussion at Fantagraphics Bookstore and makes the case for Seattle as Zombie City U.S.A.

Analysis: Hypergeek crunches direct market sales data and declares Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 1 the top small-press trade for November 2009, with Pim & Francie by Al Columbia ranking at #12

Interview: From TCJ.com: "Every weekday from now until December 25, we’ll be posting a conversation between cartoonists from The Comics Journal #300, complete and online! In today’s installment, it’s a chat between L’Association publisher Jean-Christophe Menu and Kramers Ergot publisher Sammy Harkham."

History: Love & Maggie rounds up the history of Love and Rockets 1979-1982 — even Gary Groth is impressed!

Things to see: Tim Lane's Temptations diorama... completed? Oops, no, there's an audience in progress

* Things to see: Johnny Ryan did some gag cartoons for a girlie calendar from streetwear purveyors Mishka

Things to see: An advertisement from Anders Nilsen

Things to see: At his blog, Drew Friedman pays birthday tribute to old Jewish comedian Morey Amsterdam

Things to see: The Huffington Post has a previously unseen 1968 photo of R. Crumb by photojournalist Harry Benson

Things to see: Vince Lombardi by Jim Blanchard (for his pa, aw!)

Things to see: The newest strip from Gabrielle Bell guest-stars Kim Deitch & Pam Butler

Things to see: Kevin Huizenga's "Postcard from Fielder" part 2

Life imitates comics: Failed Russian missile test or event from Jim Woodring's Weathercraft? You decide

Daily OCD: 12/11/09
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Steve DitkoPortable GrindhouseMichael KuppermanLove and RocketsJim WoodringJacques TardiJacques BoyreauHans RickheitGahan WilsonFrom Wonderland with LoveDerek Van GiesonDash ShawCarol TylerBlake BellBest of 2009Abstract Comics 11 Dec 2009 4:54 PM

Online Commentary & Diversions:

List: Politics and Prose, perhaps the most graphic novel-friendly bookstore in Washington DC, lists their Favorite Graphic Literature of the Year:

"Every few years a graphic novel comes around that is so good you have to stop reading for a while, because if you read anything else you'd only be disappointed. ... The Squirrel Machine... is a masterpiece of comic fantasy. When I finished this book, I immediately returned to the introduction and read the whole book again, and again. Read this book to see what heights serial art can achieve in narrative and in the creation of worlds that exist in one character's mind. Read it if you think you can handle it, for it abandons the typical narrative structure and accomplishes its ends as only serial art of the highest quality can. This is a fine, gut-wrenching book, written and drawn by a true master." – Thad Ellerbe

"West Coast Blues is an unflinching story, perfect for any fan of the thriller." – Adam Waterreus

"C. Tyler's You'll Never Know, Book One: A Good and Decent Man... is also an impressive and beautiful history of the era; Tyler creates a panorama of images that sweep across the page as she documents her father's childhood, her parent's engagement, and her own young life. Her pen, ink, and color transform her creative panels (at times evoking a scrapbook) into vibrant memories intertwined by her restless imagination." – Adam Waterreus

"[With Abstract Comics] it becomes a treat to take a page of art — or a simple panel — and consider how the shapes, texture, depth, and color interact with one another; to reflect on how, when one takes the time, the enjoyment one ordinarily finds in reading a purely textually-oriented, narrative-driven written story can — with the graphic form — be translated into something completely different." – Adam Waterreus

"From Wonderland with Love: Danish Comics in the Third Millennium... is fantastic! This amazing collection just blew me away. There was not one moment when reading this book — in one sitting, slouched and unblinking on my couch, coffee going cold — that I did not completely love. ... Mythic and dreamlike, meditative and fantastical, this is a superb and surprising collection." – Adam Waterreus

Review: "...[F]rom the moment he showed up [Michael] Kupperman was a master of stomping around the living room of modern reality and shoving pieces of conceptual furniture next to one another to awesome, knees-out-from-under effect. Kupperman's work has always had that charge that the really good stuff has... Kupperman doesn't get enough credit for building a comic book vehicle in Tales Designed To Thrizzle that serves to facilitate those skills. ...I'm not certain anything under heaven or earth could make something greater than Kupperman's peerless ability to craft funny moments." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter

Review: The Oregonian's Steve Duin, while professing "I am not on the board of directors of the Gahan Wilson fan club," nonetheless finds some pleasures in Gahan Wilson: Fifty Years of Playboy Cartoons, declaring "This is a stunning collection, gloriously presented."

Review: superhumanoids writes of Dash Shaw's "eccentric little Animated Web Series That Could" The Unclothed Man in the 35th Century A.D., "Disparate animation styles and simple, hand drawn production value is the perfect vessel for a world where future-artists hone their still life sketches on rigid, unmoving droids."

Review: "Unclothed Man delivers just the right amounts of story, whimsy, art, and heft for four two-minute entries. It offers actual nutritive cultural substance, as opposed to so much web filler one often gets. And you’ll want to go back and watch them a few more times. There’s a lot of variety behind the series’ simple elegance." – Michael Shaw (no relation), Tubefilter

Plug: "Compiled by Portland, Oregon-based trash cinema expert Jacques Boyreau, Portable Grindhouse honors the pulp video era that inspired Quentin Tarantino." – Hugh Hart, Wired

Plug: Clicky Overload reminds us "By the way, world's best comic publisher Fantagraphics has a collection of Krampus postcards called The Devil in Design: The Krampus Postcards."

Gift guide: Comics Alliance recommends Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 1 for the recluse in your life in their snarky "Holiday Shopping Guide for the Unemployed Comics Fan" (sorry Steve, I just reports 'em)

Links: Time for another awe-inspiring Love and Rockets mega link roundup post from Love & Maggie

Things to see: Actually, Derek, I kinda like it

Things to see: In Jim Woodring's latest blog posting, Frank faces terror from the deep! Yow!

Daily OCD: Special NYT/EW Edition
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Steve DitkoreviewsMichael KuppermanLilli CarréBlake BellAbstract Comics 6 Dec 2009 3:38 PM

In today's New York Times Sunday Book Review, Douglas Wolk turns in some short reviews of recommended comics for the holidays, including:

Tales Designed to Thrizzle Volume One by Michael Kupperman

"The blandly didactic sobriety of old educational comics and earnest advertisements... is Michael Kupper­man’s default tone for the deranged, gaspingly funny work collected in Tales Designed to Thrizzle: Volume One. Kupperman has a stiff, deadpan drawing style that suggests the textures of woodcuts, clip-art and old 'Mary Worth' strips; his writing, on the other hand, jumps the rails at every opportunity."

Abstract Comics

 "The artists assembled by Andrei Molotiu for his anthology Abstract Comics push 'cartooning' to its limits: the selections have few if any words, no characters or plot, and very few clearly identifiable representations — just abstract images in sequence. ... It’s a fascinating book to stare at, and as with other kinds of abstract art, half the fun is observing your own reactions..."

(Edited to add: There's also a very nice review of Lilli Carré's new Little Otsu book Nine Ways to Disappear.)

Meanwhile, over at Entertainment Weekly, Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 1 is #9 on this week's "Must List":

Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 1

"This exhilarating collection of stories by the comic-book artist who co-created Spider-Man captures all the glorious chills and blood spills from the first two years of his career."

Daily OCD: 12/3/09
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under The Comics JournalSteve DitkoreviewsPrince ValiantPortable GrindhouseOlivier SchrauwenLove and RocketsJohnny RyanJaime HernandezJacques TardiJacques BoyreauGilbert HernandezFantagraphics BookstoreCarol TylerBlazing CombatBlake BellBest of 2009Basil Wolverton 3 Dec 2009 5:24 PM

Online Commentary & Diversions:

• List: For The Barnes & Noble Review, Douglas Wolk picks his 5 "Best Graphic Novels of 2009," including You'll Never Know, Book 1: A Good and Decent Man by C. Tyler ("...indelible, majestically composed images. Compassionate but unsparing...") and Luba by Gilbert Hernandez ("Fiery, wildly raunchy, deliriously complicated, and bubbling over with life")

• Gift Guide: At Comic Book Resources, Steven Grant's holiday recommendations are Fantagraphics-heavy, heaping praise on West Coast Blues, Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol., Blazing Combat, Locas II, and The Definitive Prince Valiant Companion: "Don't mean to be a shill for Fantagraphics, but they really do produce splendid looking books, gift-worthy in appearance as well as content."

• Review: "[Gilbert] Hernandez's latest solo work The Troublemakers is the second in a series of self-contained graphic novel 'B-movies,' featuring one of his recurring characters, the cannonball-breasted Rosalba 'Fritz' Martinez. Here, Fritz plays Nala, one of a trio of hustlers trying to hook up with 200,000 smackers. Whether the money actually exists and who has it are anyone's guess in this drama-filled thriller — good for folks who like their graphic novels grim, gritty, and sleazy." – Brad Buckner, Portland Mercury

• Review: "Strange Suspense [The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 1]... is an absolute treat! ...[T]his book looks amazing. ...[It's] filled with images that will remain seared into your psyche long after you’ve put it down. ... Strange Suspense is an absolute must have for any student of sequential art history... It’s an excellent collection of long lost work from a man whose importance cannot be overstated. There’s really no other grade to give it than an A." – Chad Derdowski, Mania.com

• Review: "Wolverton is helped [in The Wolverton Bible]... by his bold compositional sense, which aids in pushing some of his images beyond the doldrums of camp and into a certain monumentality, a grandeur that retains a shabby earthiness, without being lofty, hollow or pretentious. Without being, in a word, 'churchy.'" – Chris Lanier, The Comics Journal (beta)

• Review: "Johnny Ryan’s Prison Pit is probably as close as comics are likely to come to exploitation cinema. Like the best exploitation dreck from Texas Chainsaw to Death Race 2000, Prison Pit is pure, bottom-dwelling schlock... And yet, again as with exploitation fare, the single-minded commitment to vileness is so perversely pure that it goes right past lowest-common-denominator entertainment and on into snooty, fancy-pants art. ... Ryan’s world is essentially Waiting for Godot, from the bleak landscape to the slapstick violence." – Noah Berlatsky, The Comics Journal (beta)

• Plug: Shock Till You Drop calls Portable Grindhouse: The Lost Art of the VHS Box "a must-have for any horror nut this holiday."

• Plug: Heather Buckley of Dread Central says of Portable Grindhouse, "This 200-page soft cover tome documents our ghoulish favorites from video stores past in full splatterific detail... I can’t even begin to tell you my excitement," and says of our Bookstore's 3rd Anniversary/Portable Grindhouse book launch and panel discussion, "So, my Pacific Northwest Monsters Kids, this could be fun. Heck, I wish I were out there to go myself."

• Commentary: Sparkplug's Dylan Williams presents a brief excerpt from and comments on the Gary Arlington interview in "one of the best issues of The Comics Journal ever," #264

• Things to see: Is this page by Olivier Schrauwen for a future Mome story? Man I hope so!

Daily OCD: 11/30/09
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Steve DitkoRobert CrumbreviewsPrince ValiantPopeyeNell BrinkleyLilli CarréKrazy KatJacques TardiHans RickheitGahan WilsonFrank ThorneDerek Van GiesonDame DarcyComing AttractionsBlake BellArnold RothAnders NilsenAl Columbia 30 Nov 2009 5:08 PM

Online Commentary & Diversions, first of the week, last of the month:

• Coming Attractions: Chris Mautner of Robot 6 got his hands on our Spring/Summer 2010 catalog and runs it all down for you

• Review: "Of all the comics published in 2009, none has deserved more acclaim... than You Are There. ... Tardi's art, which combines the liveliness and simplicity of the best cartooning with a well-observed realism is perfect for this kind of surreal tale. ... His work deserves to be read and will endlessly reward readers who seek it out." – Robert Boyd

• Review: "[Like a Dog] is a gloriously rough-hewn and hands-on collection from a compulsive cartoonist and storyteller packaged with the flair and imagination that has become a trademark of the world’s leading publisher of fascinating comics. ...Sally’s dedication to innovation, exploration and imagination will astound and entrance anyone who knows capital A Art when they see it." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!

• Review: "[Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 1] is a cracking collection in its own right but as an examination of one of the art-form’s greatest stylists it is also an invaluable insight into the very nature of comics. This is a book true fans would happily kill or die for." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!

• Review: "Columbia's book [Pim & Francie] is positively festooned with frightening moments and tableaux... Any single upsetting image is a rosette on a much more ambitious and awesome-to-behold cake. Al Columbia has progressed to the point where he can haunt my nightmares for three days as an aside." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter

• Review: "...The Complete Iron Devil is a humorous adult fantasy book with great art. However, it wouldn't be nearly as good if it weren't for the excellent Devil's Angel story, which points out the craziness of 'morality police.'" – Bernard C. Cormier, [here] (CanadaEast)

• Plugs: The Comics Reporter's Black Friday Holiday Shopping Guide '09 is full of 'em

• Plugs: David Allen of the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin recommends some current classic comic-strip reprint projects, including Prince Valiant, Popeye, and Krazy & Ignatz

• Plug: The Paper Collector recommends The Brinkley Girls

• Plug: Polish blog kg looks forward to our next two Complete Crumb reprints (perfectly broken English courtesy Google): "And you need to know that to find and collect all the works of Crumb is as hard as winning for best player of the world, being Polish football player."

• Plug: "It’s like a bomb went off in the subconscious of Max Fleischer and Columbia was around to collect the pieces years later when they fell to earth. In this time of safe substitution power fantasies, Columbia’s work is truly provocative stuff. Funny, dark, and impeccably executed." – The Synesthetic Fugue Incident

• Plug: The Forbidden Planet International Blog Log takes note of Gahan Wilson: Fifty Years of Playboy Cartoons

• Interview/Things to see: Hogan's Alley not only shares an extensive gallery of Arnold Roth's Christmas card art over the years, they have a Q&A with Roth about it (via Drawn)

• Things to see/Events: Dame Darcy dances with a shark and plugs her latest doings and makings in her new blog update

• Things to see: Post-it art by Lilli Carré for the imminent Giant Robot Post-it Show

• Things to see: A store window painted by, and photos of an exhibit featuring work by, Anders Nilsen

• Things to see: Another glimpse of Hans Rickheit 's current work in progress

• Things to see: Behind the scenes of the creation of Derek Van Gieson's Mome story "Devil Doll"

Daily OCD: 11/25/09
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Steve DitkoPeanutsJohn PhamJoe SaccoEllen ForneyBlake Bell 25 Nov 2009 4:31 PM

Online Commentary & Diversions observes the U.S. holiday tomorrow and returns on Friday:

• Review: "Children of the early Cold War who grew up with a pre-Spider-Man Ditko will find plenty to love in these restorations... Contemporary fans will no doubt find a lot to like in this volume, as well, both as a piece of mid-century pop-art, and as a first-hand look at the singularly warped sensibilities of one of the artists that would go on to shape the modern superhero book as we know it. Ditko clearly revels in his pre-Code world, constructing giant man-eating worms, and serial killers, and goblins. The artist draws on a broad scope of genre, demonstrating diverse artistic and storytelling talents... Strange Suspense is a treasure trove of weird excitement from one of the mavericks of mid-century comics." – Brian Heater, The Daily Cross Hatch

• Plug: "I want to marry this comic book: ...John Pham’s Sublife Vol. 2... is so lovely. I have a preview copy on my nightstand, and I just can’t keep my eyes — and hands! — off it." – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama

• Plug: The Brazilian edition of the first volume of The Complete Peanuts was released earlier this year; Diário do Barão says of it "Definitely, this was the best gift that I gave this year. It is even better than the Transformers Collection Megatron."

• Interview/Things to see: Portland Monthly's Randy Gragg has a Q&A with Joe Sacco; the magazine also presents a retrospective slideshow of Sacco's work

• Meme: This week Ellen Forney is an internet sensation!

Daily OCD: 11/20/09
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Steve DitkoRichard SalareviewsPortable GrindhousePaul HornschemeierOlivier SchrauwenMiss Lasko-GrossLilli CarréJoe DalyJacques BoyreauHans RickheitGilbert HernandezFantagraphics BookstorecontestsCarol TylerBlake BellBlabBest of 2009audioAlexander Theroux 20 Nov 2009 5:20 PM

Oh lordy, I felt like I was never going to get through this installment of Online Commentary & Diversions:

• Interview/Reviews/Contest: The Seattle Geekly podcast visits Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery ("full of dangerous amounts of awesome") and talks to curator Larry Reid as part of their current episode's focus on "geek gifts"; plus reviews of Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 1 ("If you're interested in the history of the comics genre, this is a must-have") and Hans Rickheit's The Squirrel Machine ("steampunk style mashed up with H.R. Giger... the art is amazing"). Plus, they're having a contest giving away a copy of Strange Suspense!

• List: Graphic Novel Reporter begins their Best of 2009 survey of educators and comics pros; so far A Mess of Everything by Miss Lasko-Gross ("Lasko-Gross’ words and pictures felt incredibly authentic") and Luba by Gilbert Hernandez have been named

• Review: "Rolling in like a slow, fuzzed-out guitar line from an Orange-brand amp, The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book lives up to the good vibes promised in its title. ... Having recently finished Thomas Pynchon's Inherent Vice and Jonathan Lethem's Chronic City, I couldn't help but consider The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book as a distant third-cousin to those titles. ...The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book is a weekend read, best consumed with your feet propped up, opposable digits or not." – Alex Carr, Omnivoracious (Amazon.com)

• Review: "Paul Hornschemeier excels at a sort of cryptic-cute comic that is better read than described. It's a blend of darkness and sharply delineated perfectionism that, whether he likes it or not, sometimes brings to mind his Chicago contemporary Chris Ware What he knows, though, is that he can go places Ware can't — Hornschemeier's style is every style. ... His diversity of styles is most apparent in All and Sundry: Uncollected Work 2004-2009... It's just a stew of stuff that, like the best sketchbooks, offers an intimate invitation to spy on the ramblings of a formidable creative." – Byron Kerman, PLAYBACK:stl

• Review: "For being a company that puts out the reprints of one of the safest comics of all time, Peanuts, Fantagraphics sure lives on the edge of the comics medium, particularly in the realm of anthologies. Blab! is just such an anthology, featuring a variety of visual quirks that hover closer to straight up art pieces than comics work, but still do not seem out of place with the more narrative pieces that slide between the pictorial pages. ...[T]here's probably someone for everyone in Blab!, if you take the time to look." – Panel Patter

• Review: "Richard Sala’s reinvention of Snow White is a sparkling macabre gem. The 2-color art glows in handsome sepia that is pitch perfect for this delightfully demented tale of a strange land. Sala populates Delphine with cast of horror carnival rejects that is diverse enough to both excite and confound the imagination. This issue [#3]’s creepy locales: dark tunnels, a creepy house, and a gloomy castle are the true stars of this chapter. They make this scary tale an absolute winner. ...[Grade] A" – Leroy Douresseaux, Comic Book Bin

• Reviewer: A new book review from Laura Warholic author Alexander Theroux for The Wall Street Journal, this time of an interesting-sounding collection of "literary invective" called Poison Pens

• Plug: "I grew up in the video age and I’m still in awe of the technology that first allowed me to watch thousands of movies in the privacy of my own home. Call me sentimental and nostalgic, but when I first got wind of Jacques Boyreau’s upcoming book Portable Grindhouse: The Lost Art of the VHS Box it made me giddy with excitement." – Kimberly Lindbergs, Cinebeats

• Events: Graphic Novel Reporter has photos of C. Tyler giving her presentation at the Miami Book Fair last weekend

• Things to see: Two from Lilli Carré — a new animated drawing and a peek at her strip in the new issue of The Believer

• Things to see: Some great new stuff from Olivier Schrauwen recently, too