In this month's issue of Booklist you can find praise for three of our recent releases:
Nuts by Gahan Wilson: "One of the greatest gag cartoonists, whose monthly contributions to Playboy may prove that magazine’s most durable legacy, Wilson gave National Lampoon something to be remembered for, too — his only comic strip, collected here. Titled to echo Charles Schulz’s great newspaper feature full of kids who think and talk like adults, the six-paneled Nuts develops a realistic situation from out of memory (the strips typically begin with the word “remember”). All the fully visible characters are children, mostly boys, but, contra Peanuts, what they say expresses kids’ enthusiasms, fears, and frustrations in the words grown-up memory gives them (the slightly precocious language is Wilson’s primary departure from naturalism, except for his loopy drawing, of course). The frustrations are particularly important, so much so that, despite the acorn next to it in every first panel, the strip’s title is best understood as a child’s curse, “Nuts!” The scenarios include summer camp, going to horror movies, being sick and obsessing about it, making models, eating too much, not knowing the answer (or even the subject) in school, selecting comics in the local cigar store, and other normal-enough stuff that holds the potential for humiliation, failure, and maybe worse. In Nuts, that potential is always realized and, as memory colors it, so uproariously that you just about choke with laughter. For sheer hilarity, this is Wilson’s masterpiece." – Ray Olson (Starred Review)
Oil and Water by Steve Duin & Shannon Wheeler: "Four months after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, a small group of Oregonians traveled to the Gulf Coast to assess the damage. In this graphic-novel recounting of their expedition, we follow the well-intentioned but naive activists as they meet scientists, crabbers, bird rehabilitators, the local head of Homeland Security (found shark fishing on a beach), and other locals whose lives were roiled by the disaster. ...[T]he work effectively sets forth the essential dilemma: the region’s economy remains dependent on the very industry that ravaged the coast; and the “hush money” paid by BP in the wake of the disaster ensures that most residents continue to see oil as the solution to their woes rather than the problem." – Gordon Flagg
Pogo - The Compete Syndicated Comic Strips Vol. 1: Through the Wild Blue Wonder by Walt Kelly: "After numerous delays, this essential purchase for any collection that values comic-strip reprints is finally
available.... In these... strips from the first two years of Pogo’s two-and-a-half-decades
run, the direct political satire is mostly broadly focused (thinly masked approximations of headliners from
McCarthy and Nixon to Castro and Khrushchev would all spend time in Okefenokee Swamp), but the
inventive wordplay, idiosyncratic swamp patter, and goofy slapstick are all in full effect right from the
start, as is the broad cast of loony critters that would eventually number upwards of 500 distinct characters.
Due to run 12 volumes, this collection completes the holy trifecta, along with Charles Schulz’ Peanuts and
George Herriman’s Krazy Kat, of comic strips whose influence cannot be overstated."
– Ian Chipman
• Review: "The book is lovingly made and the strips presented with care and pleasure. But is it any good? Oh yes. It's funny and charming, bursting with witty wordplay and vivid characters you love immediately. You can see the influence the Marx Brothers and Krazy Kat and Mark Twain had on Pogo and its love of silly grammatical puns and Southern dialect. And you can see the influence Pogo had on Doonesbury and Calvin & Hobbes... In short, read Pogo and you can immediately see it slide into the pop cultural matrix and how it drew upon the work that came earlier, moved forward the art form of comic strips and influenced artists after it for generations to come. But most of all you'll laugh..." – Michael Giltz, The Huffington Post
• Review: "The only real problem with this beautifully produced book [Jack Davis: Drawing American Pop Culture ] is that it’s much, much too short.... The art reproduces gorgeously, scanned in many cases from the original material, and the volume as a whole is an effort to give Davis the respect he deserves as a legitimate artist.... A few essays, slotted at the front and back of the back, rather than next to the art itself, place him in context and give some biographical details, but the work, with Davis’s fluid, effortless line and gift for characterization, speaks for itself." – Hillary Brown, Paste
• Review: At Greek site Comicdom, Tomas Papadimitropoulos looks at Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910-2010 by Michael Kupperman: "Δεν είμαι σίγουρος αν είναι ο καλύτερος τρόπος για να γνωρίσεις τον Kupperman και τις ιδιαιτερότητές του, αλλά σίγουρα θα ικανοποιήσει (και θα χορτάσει) τους fans του (ίσως και αυτούς του Twain – ο Αμερικανός συγγραφέας δεν έγινε γνωστός για το συμβατικό χιούμορ του, άλλωστε), οι οποίοι θα βρεθούν σε γνώριμα μεν νερά, αλλά με κάποιες καλοδεχούμενες διαφορές."
• Review: At his blog Mandorla, Santiago Garcia looks at the latest chapters of Jaime Hernandez's "Locas" saga: "Estas últimas semanas he comentado que uno de los mejores tebeos que he leído en el 2011 ha sido 'The Love Bunglers,' historieta que Jaime Hernandez ha publicado en los números 3 y 4 de Love and Rockets: New Stories. Pero no había dicho nada sobre ella todavía, quizás porque es de esas historietas sobre las que uno se queda casi sin nada que decir. Son demasiado inmensas para encerrarlas en un puñado de palabras. Pero eso es lo que tenemos aquí, un puñado de palabras, así que vamos a dejar que lleguen hasta donde lleguen, al menos."
• Interview: The writer of Straight 2 DVD blog talks with editor Michel Gagne about Young Romance: The Best of Simon & Kirby's Romance Comics: "I quickly realized that if someone didn’t make an effort to preserve this material, most of it would vanish into oblivion. That’s when it hit me! Perhaps I should be the one to start the ball rolling. I had been itching to do a comic book preservation project for many years and this would be the perfect opportunity."
• Plug: "Another comprehensive package is going to take a bit longer to collect: the complete Peanuts library from Fantagraphics.... Currently the collection has progressed to the early 1980s, where the strip is at its peak... There's nothing that says 'holidays' like the Peanuts gang. Didn't all of us watch A Charlie Brown Christmas and A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving a thousand times?" – Andrew A. Smith, Scripps Howard
• Scene: At Examiner.com, Christian Lipski reports from the Oil and Water discussion group at Bridge City Comics recently, which was crashed by writer Steve Duin, artist Shannon Wheeler and editor Mike Rosen: "Those who had attended the team's convention panels and saw video clips from the trip tended to expect more of a straight travelogue, and were surprised by the addition of fiction to the equation. On the other hand, it was noted that the reader could identify with the observers as an entry into the story. The characters also allowed Duin to tell a side of the story through the reactions of outsiders. 'I think that Fantagraphics was as surprised as you guys,' the author confided."
I Like Comics likes Oil and Water, and this Vancouver, WA comic shop will be hosting a signing this Saturday, December 10th!
Author Steve Duin, columnist for The Oregonian, and Eisner-winning artist Shannon Wheeler will be signing from 1:00 to 4:00 PM. And a personalized copy of Oil and Water would make an awesome holiday gift, y'know.
I Like Comics is located at 2101 E. 4th Plain Blvd, Vancouver WA.
• Feature: At New Orleans-based website Gambit, Alex Woodward looks at Oil and Water — "As the book gets deeper south and deeper into the complexities and relationships of oil to the Gulf and its people, the stories get murky and collide, mimicking an ebb-and-flow that at first is much like oil and water, then gradually homogenizes. The Portlanders come to grips with their own misconceptions, and the characters that were once miles away from their lives become embedded into their own." — and talks to the book's creators (writer Steve Duin, artist Shannon Wheeler and editor Mike Rosen)
• Review: "...Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910-2010... is mainly an excuse to insert Twain, Zelig-like, into every decade between 1910 and today. Of course he made a lot of money in the 1920s and lost it all in the 1930s. Of course he and Albert Einstein were repeatedly struck in the head by a hammer-wielding monkey. And of course he sleeps with Mamie Eisenhower ('this lady was one hot dish.') It's all told in Kupperman's Marx Brothers-style absurdist deadpan voice, and if you like Tales Designed to Thrizzle, then you'll love this book. It's packed with laugh-out-loud moments..." – Paul Constant, The Stranger
• Review: "Gahan Wilson's Nuts features kids talking the way adults really talk... The kids in Nuts are vain, covetous, not so very bright, and they stagger around, reeling, from one unpleasant surprise to the next. They get their hair cut ('Sometimes I wonder if it's just that he's a lousy barber...') they look at some gory magazines, ('We're just not ready for that shit') and they attend funerals of uncles ('My God—I never saw them acting this way before! They've all fallen apart!'). Weirdly, by giving his kids the vocabularies of adults, he really captures the neuroses of childhood. We begin life as we live it now: Dazed, angry, and bitter at our own fundamental lack of control." – Paul Constant, The Stranger
• Review: "Fantagraphics has a nice introduction giving a brief biography of Kelly, and describing many of the struggles he had with Pogo and syndication. There is also a fantastic notes section at the end, which points out historical trivia as well as giving the context for some of the strips.... It’s possible that the appeal of Pogo may be lost on folks who are so used to everything that it influenced, be it talking animal comedies or political satires. Doesn’t matter to me, though. This strip is funny, well-drawn, and features a huge mass of likeable characters doing entertaining things. Put it together with Fantagraphics’ excellent presentation, and you have a definite must-buy." – Sean Gaffney, Manga Bookshelf
• Review: "Greg Sadowski and Fantagraphics’ Setting the Standard is perhaps the best book on Alex Toth that has been published thus far... Sadowski takes a straightforward, comprehensive approach and so Setting the Standard can rest comfortably on the bookshelf next to Fantagraphics’ other excellent recent collections of essential comics such as Hal Foster’s Prince Valiant, Roy Crane’s Captain Easy and Buz Sawyer and Carl Barks’ Disney epics.... There are... many passages of thoughtful comics storytelling. The romance work is often brilliantly articulated and visualized... Toth’s handling of horror and suspense is intuitive, sometimes harrowing and exhibits his more radical inventions.... In Sadowski’s book, Toth’s work speaks for itself and the artist likewise. The book’s assemblage and design are very well done to make a package which is pulpy but tasteful, not cheap nor overly slick, not high/low cute or old-boy sentimental. It provides a complete and important body of work by a great cartoonist." – James Romberger (contributor to the final Mome), The Hooded Utilitarian
Oil and Water continues to spread across Portland, Oregon, in an environmentally-friendly way!
Join author Steve Duin, columnist for The Oregonian, and Eisner-winning artist Shannon Wheeler tonight at the celebrated Powell's Books for a discussion of this powerful book, with a signing to follow! The event starts at 7:30 PM.
• Plug: At NPR's Monkey See, Glen Weldon recommends Pogo Vol. 1 as a "tryptophan-tastic tome" for your turkey-coma reading enjoyment: "Walt Kelly's seminal, satirical, exquisitely rendered, hugely influential (and, not for nothing, actually funny)comic strip is getting a deluxe treatment by Fantagraphics. Crisply reproduced at a generous size that makes it easier than ever to marvel over Kelly's marvelous linework, this book is everything fans and comics historians were hoping for."
• Review: "...[Tales Designed to] Thrizzle returns to form with lucky number seven — and of all things, it seems like Christopher Nolan’s Inception provided the catalyst.... I’ve described director Christopher Nolan’s movies as what stupid people think smart movies look like; Michael Kupperman’s comics are the opposite, stupid comics made by a smart person for smart people, so perhaps there’s some yin-yang resonance there. Regardless, Kupperman recognized Inception‘s Russian-nesting-doll structure of dreams within dreams within dreams as natural connective tissue for his stream-of-consciousness comedy... It’s nice to hold documentary evidence of Kupperman’s comic genius in my hands again." – Sean T. Collins, The Comics Journal
• Review: "The authors [of Oil and Water] show admirable self-awareness in portraying their semifictional companions (and by implication, themselves) as naive voyeurs whose presence mostly irritates their subjects. 'Lemme get this straight,' says one character. 'They white. We black. They blue. We red. They rich…and I got $53 to buy a week’s worth of groceries. And they gonna tell our stories?' Actually, they do a fine job." – Ruth Brown, Willamette Week
• Review: "Full of endnotes, translating many phrases he quotes in their original languages, and graced by a few of the couple’s photos and Sarah’s plein air oil paintings, [Estonia: A Ramble Through the Periphery] provides a suitably quirky introduction to Theroux as an essayist and critic.... As the author of two Fantagraphics short studies on Al Capp and Edward Gorey, Theroux’s elliptical style and elongated perspective delineates an American tradition of satire that connects him to Thomas Nast’s political and cultural caricatures of a century and a half ago.... Catch the wit and the venom, the depth and the breadth, of this honest account of 'a strange, unlooked-for place at the back of beyond' where 'the fascination of its strangeness' renders it a fitting subject for a curious report by a memorably talented, ever off-kilter, chronicler of oddity. [Rating] 8/10" – John L. Murphy, PopMatters
• Plugs: Our FBI•MINIs have garnered attention from Tom Spurgeon at The Comics Reporter ("I want as many as I can get my hands on"), J.K. Parkin at Robot 6 ("The big chain stores might have cheap TVs this weekend, but how many of them come with a Tony Millionaire mini-comic? Not nearly enough, I tell ya"), Alan Gardner at The Daily Cartoonist ("If you're already planning on picking out some titles for the holidays, might as well get the rare or unpublished work as well"), Paul Constant at The Stranger ("These books are a great idea; a special gift for your special comics fan")
• Interview: "I talked on the phone with Adam Witt of Comics Will Break Your Heart about the early days of the Mome anthology, serializing work, collaboration with other artists, film, and my inability to remember the dates of anything. I apologize in advance for the mumbling bits," says Paul Hornschemeier on his blog
• Analysis: At Robot 6, Matt Seneca examines the sequential imagery in a poster by Victor Moscoso: "The poster Moscoso created for SF-based motion picture company Pablo Ferro Films... is a watershed moment in the artist’s oeuvre, the place where his works in comics and posters unify with perfect elegance. It’s also a fascinating, formally audacious piece of comics, one that breaks rules and innovates furiously without giving up an iota of visual beauty."
This week's comic shop shipment is slated to include the following new titles. Read on to see what comics-blog commentators and web-savvy comic shops are saying about them (more to be added as they appear), check out our previews at the links, and contact your local shop to confirm availability.
"It’s certainly Fantagraphics’ week, with the release of two amazing reprint volumes." – Johanna Draper Carlson, Comics Worth Reading
240-page full-color 7.5" x 10.25" hardcover • $24.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-474-0
"Fantagraphics' reprinting of the complete Carl Barks duck comics, wisely, starts not with the master funny-animal cartoonist's earliest material but with a period in which he was firing on all cylinders: the late-'40s era of grand adventure stories, four of which appear here alongside some shorter stories, one-page gags, and explanatory material. Shorter version: this is where you'll find the square eggs." – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
"I was so impressed by Fanta’s Mickey Mouse: Race to Death Valley, a book that I would have never guessed I would enjoy so much, that I’m eagerly looking forward to discovering this hidden treasure." – Johanna Draper Carlson, Comics Worth Reading
308-page black & white/color 11.25" x 9.25" hardcover • $39.99 ISBN: 978-1-56097-869-5
"And if I’m really binging, I’d add the first volume of Fantagraphics’ Pogo collection..." – Brigid Alverson, Robot 6
"Splurge-wise, how unfair is the universe for making the color, one-volume Bone available on the same day as Fantagraphic’s Pogo: The Complete Syndicated Comic Strips, Volume 1?... Bone and Pogo are especially impossible to pick between, even with the massive price difference." – Michael May, Robot 6
"...[T]he collection of Walt Kelly’s Pogo that hits stores this week is gorgeous. I have some of Fantagraphics’ previous Pogo volumes and this one blows them away." – Roger Ash, Westfield Comics Blog
"It’s difficult, when contemplating reading such an acclaimed classic, not to worry that the material won’t live up to the expectations created by the praise, or to wonder if the strip was fresher in its original time. (Especially with strips that comment on contemporaneous events, especially political ones.) I have no fear with Pogo, because if nothing else, the characters are so darn cute and well-cartooned, I know I’ll enjoy seeing them." – Johanna Draper Carlson, Comics Worth Reading
"Fantagraphics has been promising a complete reprint of Walt Kelly's wonderful comic strip for four years or so now (after reprinting the first few years' worth in paperback in the '90s). They apparently had some difficulty finding high-quality sources, but they've really gotten it right -- this looks fantastic. And this volume actually delivers more than its title suggests: besides the 1949 and 1950 syndicated strips (daily and Sunday), it includes Pogo's four-month run, from October 1948 to January 1949, in the New York Star." – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
"Another big, big, BIG one is Walt Kelly. Essential satire from a master, Kelly's strip ran from 1948 until his death in 1973. This collection was first announced in 2007 and has finally arrived. Necessary stuff, comics fans." – Librairie Drawn & Quarterly
144-page black & white 7.75" x 9.75" hardcover • $19.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-492-4
"...[A]ll the really cool, must-have books are in the splurge category this week (as usual). In one corner, after years and years of fits and starts and delays and promises galore is the first volume of Fantagraphics Complete Pogo collection, Through the Wild Blue Wonder. In the other corner we have the first volume in Fantagraphics other, other, other big reprint project, Donald Duck, Lost in the Andes, which collects some great stories by the masterful Carl Barks.... Just forget about your budget this one time. Your bank account will understand." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"CONFLICT OF INTEREST RESERVOIR: Oh shit, Disney animation showdown. Walt Disney’s Donald Duck Vol. 1: Lost in the Andes presents the first in a line of hardcover Carl Barks reprints, newly re-colored with all of the supplements you’d expect; $28.99. In the opposite corner, Pogo – The Complete Syndicated Comic Strips Vol. 1: Through The Wild Blue Wonder begins a comprehensive 12-book collection of the Walt Kelly strip in b&w and color; $39.99. And while I don’t think the 144-page, Deepwater Horizon spill-focused graphic novel Oil and Water has anything to do with Disney, it does mark a comics-writing appearance by longtime writer-on-comics Steve Duin, teamed with artist Shannon Wheeler; $19.99." – Joe McCulloch, The Comics Journal
• Review: "Barks, the artist, is a master cartoonist, drawing lively, expressive characters with a graceful sense of movement. His beautiful, detailed backgrounds plant the ducks in a fully realized world that adds weight to his storytelling.... But besides the entertaining plots, Barks’ appeal is in his characters. He gives his ducks many human frailties and while they usually try to do the right thing, they make mistakes, get angry, frustrated, and even fail. Fantagraphics Books... does its usual high quality work here as well. The design and layout of the book is a handy comic-book size hardcover with bright, colorful reproductions of the comics. Besides the comics, there are articles on Barks and analysis on each story... For both newcomers to Barks' work and diehard fans, [Walt Disney's Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes] is a book that any comic book reader would love to find under the Christmas tree." – Rich Clabaugh, The Christian Science Monitor
• Interview: At The Comics Reporter, Tom Spurgeon talks with Rich Tommaso about his coloring work on our Carl Barks Library series — "[Disney] said we didn't have to be so religious about it. They wanted to make sure the color for the ducks, the reds and blues and the yellows, that those were pretty much bang-on. But they agreed that there was a little bit of leeway. If something looked like a bad color choice, you could find something in the ballpark range of that color. So that's what I would do." — and about his own comics work
• Review: "All aspects of Kubert's career are touched on in this tome, which is loaded with beautiful colour reproductions of its subject's artwork and complemented by a lengthy and insightful critical commentary by comic book historian Bill Schelly. Over the course of the book's 224 pages, you can see quite clearly how Kubert's art evolved and how his storytelling skills developed, but also how his unique style, those striking touch and sinewy images that could have been rendered by no one else, has remained intact. As with Fantagraphics' previous coffee table comic art books, The Art of Joe Kubert makes you want to see more — all! — of the artist's work." – Miles Fielder, The List
• Review: "Frank Zappa once said 'most rock journalism is people who can’t write, interviewing people who can’t talk, for people who can’t read.' However true that might be, Paul Nelson was one who most definitely could write. And he interviewed people who could talk, and plenty of people read what he wrote. Kevin Avery certainly read what Nelson wrote, and has now written Everything Is an Afterthought, which is both a biography of Nelson and a collection of his work, including some pieces that have never been published.... Like the best critics, Nelson was primarily a fan of what he wrote about, subjects that struck a chord with him. And here’s a bio and a collection of his work written by a fan of his." – Robert O'Connor, Spike Magazine
• Plug: Proud contributor to our first Walt Kelly Pogo volume Mark Evanier talks up the book on his blog: "It's a wonderful book and though I am a Consulting Editor — I think that's my title — I can rave about it because I deserve very little credit for its wonderfulness. Any book that properly presents the work of Mr. Kelly is going to be, by definition, wonderful...and Carolyn Kelly (daughter of Walt, companion of mine) and Fantagraphics Books made sure it was properly presented."
Plug: "...Michael Kupperman's new book [Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910-2010]... has everything a boy could want, including Mark Twain on the track of the elusive yeti!... Albert Einstein is a major supporting player in the book (he and Twain open a detective agency, natch) and somehow it behooves me to remind everyone that in real life for really real, Einstein's granddaughter married a renowned bigfoot hunter. That is a fact you can look up on your computer!" – Jack Pendarvis
• Interview:Robot 6's Tim O'Shea talks with Shannon Wheeler, with a couple of revealing behind-the-scenes tidbits about Oil and Water in the second half: "Steve [Duin] understands a scene really well. When all the characters visited the bird cleaning facility there was a large storytelling arc with multiple subplots. I would have been afraid to juggle so many elements. I would have focused on the single note of the horror of the facility. Steve isn’t afraid to trust the reader to understand. I’m a lot less trusting of the reader. Steve showed me how to have more faith in the narrative."
• Scene: At Examiner.com, Christian Lipski reports from the Oil and Water book release with Steve Duin, Shannon Wheeler, Mike Rosen and Tom Orzechowski at Bridge City Comics in Portland last Wednesday: "Wheeler described the give-and-take nature of his meetings with Duin, during which they would talk about the best way to illustrate the author's script. 'I'd push for certain things, and Steve would push back,' said the artist. 'Sometimes he'd want something more subtle and I'd think it would need to be more over-the-top, or the other way around. We had good discussions.'"