The most intricate house sigil of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review:The LA Times enjoys their reading of7 Miles a Secondby David Wojnarowicz, James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook. "Part of the power of Wojnarowicz’s work is that he dealt with such concepts accessibly; he didn’t have time to waste. It was the source of his restless imagination, his willingness to experiment with unexpected forms," writes David L. Ulin.
• Plug:NY1 (New York 1) and Don Kois talk about 7 Miles a SecondDavid Wojnarowicz, James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook. "…this graphic novel is an amazing document of the gaudy, dangerous world of clients and johns and artists and thugs downtown in the 1980s."
• Interview: Nick Hanover of Comics Bulletin interviews Tom Kaczynski on Beta Testing the Apocalypse. Kacyznski writes, "All these stories started to feel like they were linked and eventually things like the noise stories and the themes of sound started to kind of inject themselves into the rest of the material…I'm interested in utopias, and utopian societies. And a lot of what Communism is is essentially an attempted utopia that failed. "
• Review:Art Rocker and Wee Claire look at Delphine by Richard Sala. "Delphine is arguably Richard Sala's darkest tale to date and a brilliant gateway for those new to his whimsical storytelling style…There are comparisons to Snow White dotted throughout the story but Sala's indie-goth execution tinged with a 70s horror atmosphere make for a much more interesting tale."
• Review:The Toronto Star reads and reviews our books like Heads or Tails by Lilli Carré. "Carré’s work, fittingly titled Heads or Tails, probes choice, ambivalence and fate; in her stories, there’s a flip side to everything, rendered in full and brilliant colour,"says Laura Kane.
• Review: Noah Bertlatsky on the Hooded Utilitarian looks at the art of Lilli Carré comics from Heads or Tails through the gendered lens of Bart Beaty. "If art is both hyperbolic masculine swagger and small-scale feminized detail, though, for Carré the form that mediates between the two is something that looks a lot like comics."
• Interview (partial): Dan Nadel of The Comics Journal posts part of the interview of Jacqes Tardi by Kim Thompson from TCJ 302.
• Plug: "It's astonishing to me that The Comics Journal will have outlasted Wizard, Hero Illustrated and CBG, but I'm happy for that fact," says former TCJ editor, Tom Spurgeon. TCJ 302 was co-edited by Kristy Valenti and Mike Dean.
• Review:Mort Meskin gets the full hello-how-are-ya when his collections are reviewed, edited by Steven Brower. "Out of the Shadows was such an enjoyable find that when it ended we were hungry for more of Meskin’s work." So Scoop turns to From Shadow to Light, "Meskin is so skilled in portraying body language that he doesn’t need a face to tell us know exactly what someone is thinking…a thorough and very detailed look at a man’s life, his family and the work he valued."
• Plug:Kotaku and Evan Narcisse get teary-eyed over Peanuts Every Sunday by Charles M. Schulz. "The daily black-and-white comics were great but the full-color Sunday strips gave Schulz a big, beautiful canvas to let his expert pacing and amazing linework breathe in a rainbow of color…it's really the entire mix of characters …and their mix of adult prickliness and childlike naiveté that made Charles Schulz's iconic comics strips so timeless."
• Interview:MTV Geek interviews Charles Forsman about The End of the Fucking Worldand life. Forsman answersEddie Wright's question, "I do love sparse cartooning. Like Schulz which I think comes through in mine a bit. I've heard people descibe this stuff as "Peanuts" all grown-up and violent."
• Review:Nerds of a Feather look at Ed Piskor's Hip Hop Family Tree, to be printed later this year. Philippe Duhart gives it a rare 10 out of 10, "…those familiar with the genre can attest, it's difficult to separate the music from other elements of the "culture" -- b-boying, graffiti, lingo, style. Piskor demonstrates an affectionate respect for the interrelations between these phenomenon, telling a story of a culture, rather than a musical genre."
• Review: Anime News Network reviews and givest The Heart of Thomas by Moto Hagio an 'A-'. Rebecca Silverman writes, "The Heart of Thomas may be the grandmother of the boys' love genre, but it would be shortsighted to simply classify it as such…Heartfelt and dreamlike, it is a window into the lives of those affected by the sudden death of one of their own."
• Review:The Toronto Star reads and reviews our books like The Cartoon Utopia by Ron Regé, Jr. The Cartoon Utopia "is visionary, but also unmistakably influenced by ’70s psychedelia… the thrilling, one-of-a-kind art will stretch your imagination and, at the very least, make you believe in the power of comics to explore the impossible," writes Laura Kane.
• Review:The Toronto Star reads and reviews our books like Came the Dawn by Wallace Wood and Corpse on the Imjin! by Harvey Kurtzman. Laura Kane writes, "In dark shadows, bold lines and intense close-ups, [Wallace Wood] perfectly illustrates the stories — which ran the gamut from B-horror to confronting social issues such as racism, anti-Semitism and sexism." As for Corpse on the Imjin!, "In these violent, blood-spattered pages, [Kurtzman] lays bare the devastation of war."
• Review/Commentary: Eddie Campbell on The Comics Journal compares and contrasts recent reviews of the EC Comics being reprinted at Fantagraphics and how critics struggle and feel the need to analyze comics at literature. Distilling the article to a mere quote is abhorrent so we tried but please read it. "If comics are any kind of art at all, it’s the art of ordinary people. With regard to Kurtzman’s war comics, don’t forget that the artists on those books were nearer to the real thing than you and I will ever be."
• Review: Elliot Bay Books reviews No Straight Lines, edited by Justin Hall. Dave Wheeler writes, "Impossible to be even close to a complete collection of the genre, No Straight Lines instead seeks to trace the parallel trajectories toward visibility for both comics and LGBTQ identities…these are the stories of real people, or they are people transfigured by folklore."
• Plug: Greg Akers of the Memphis Flyer enjoyed reading Love and Rockets: New Stories #4 by Jaime Hernandez and Gilbert Hernandez. "Jaime breaks me every time. The conclusion to "The Love Bunglers" is an all-time great. Tears in my eyes, destroyed emotionally."
• Plug: Joost Swarte sings the blues at Angouleme, thanks to Paul Karasik.
• Review:SequArt looks at Black Hole by Charles Burns. Faith Brody Patane point out "…it’s a story that’s meant to be devoured with intent to possibly make you have freaky nightmares. Black Hole is one of those stories that lingers long after you read it…This group of teens is far from Riverdale and far more desperate."
The Cleanest Mug in the Kitchen of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review:Booklist reviews the Mysterious Traveler: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 3, by Steve Ditko and edited by Blake Bell. Gordon Flagg notes these horror stories feature "Ditko’s distinctly off-kilter drawings and boldly potent composition" and the "meticulous restoration means that the stories look far better here than they did upon their original appearances."
• Review:Booklist enjoys Mort Meskin's Out of the Shadows, edited by Steven Brower. "Meskin’s powerful compositions add a fitting dynamism to superhero tales featuring the Black Terror and Fighting Yank. His bold use of shadows and other solid black areas impart a moody atmosphere to horror and crime stories, and even the romance and sci-fi pieces included here benefit from his economic illustration style and attractive page designs," writes Gordon Flagg.
• Review:Black Gate picks up Linda Medley's Castle Waiting: Volume 2 for a good read. John O'Neill stated, "it retold the fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty (sort of), as seen by an odd cast of mostly minor characters. It was well written and beautiful, feminine in perspective and mood, incredibly slow-paced, and wholly original. I loved it."
• Interview: Gary Panter spent a whole hour talking to Benjamen Walker on the Too Much Information show at WFMU about life, Dal Tokyo, the evolving medium of comics and more.
• Interview: New Statesman interviews Chris Ware on Building Stories, Jimmy Corrigan and the time inbetween books. "Kim Thompson at Fantagraphics was really willing to experiment [with format]; I remember how much he and I sweated the idea of putting out a comic book that was just 1/2" shorter than the standard format in 1993."
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.
84-page black & white/duotone 8.25" x 10.75" hardcover • $19.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-524-2
"Four short stories by the French Tardi set in New York City. The biggest thing about Tardi is his range, even within the confines of a single story. He can effortlessly move from silly, mannered humor to explosive, gruesome violence. Tarantino, if he had become a cartoonist, would have wished that he could be this guy." – Ao Meng, Novi Magazine
"Among this week’s crop of new releases is another in Fantagraphics’ excellent and continuing series of extremely welcome English language editions of the diverse body of work by the great Jacques Tardi, surely one of the top exponents of the comic form.... I’m so glad the Fanta crew has been making these titles available again to English language readers." – Joe Gordon, Forbidden Planet International
"I mentioned New York Mon Amourlast week, but how can you possibly cite Jacques Tardi too many times? All I know is that four NYC stories are included, in black, white & red; $19.99." – Joe McCulloch, The Comics Journal
"If I had $30, I’d make the difficult choice between two top-notch offerings from Fantagraphics this week. One: New York Mon Amour, a collection of Manhattan-themed stories by the one and only Jacques Tardi, including the Kalfkaesque “Cockroach Killer.” The other would be the third volume in the ongoing Mickey Mouse collection, High Noon at Inferno Gulch. I’m an unabashed Floyd Gottfredson fan, so the Mickey book would probably win out. But I’d be sure to save my coins for next week so I can get the Tardi book then." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
200-page full-color 7.5" x 10.5" softcover • $26.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-532-7
"Assuming I don’t blow all my splurge dough on the Tardi book, there’s a number of solid options here [including] Out of the Shadows, a collection of Mort Meskin’s early non-DC work..." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"Also dropping is Out of the Shadows, a 200-page collection of Golden Age comics by Mort Meskin, edited and designed by Steven Brower; $26.99." – Joe McCulloch, The Comics Journal
"The Mort Meskin book is a must-have simply because of the way Meskin has muscled his way into the conversation about great and influential mainstream craftsmen -- I think maybe through a door left ajar a few places by Art Spiegelman, although I honestly couldn't tell you the exact provenance of his rediscovery." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
280-page black & white/color 10.5" x 8.75" hardcover • $29.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-531-0
"These volumes have been a revelation, showing a generation who had only seen the dull, squeaky clean corporate Mickey exactly why he was the darling of the 1930s. Pure rollicking high-adventure, they’re also filled with background material and essays by cartoon scholars such as editor David Gerstein. A must for any cartoon fan collection." – Sean Gaffney, Manga Bookshelf
"...Fantagraphics’ hilarious little mascot returns for more Floyd Gottfredson-headed antics in Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse Vol. 3: High Noon at Inferno Gulch, boasting 60 or so pages of supplements toward a 280-page total; $29.99. " – Joe McCulloch, The Comics Journal
• Review: "The sad, forgotten beauty of the in-between moments of daily life: playing a board game at a kitchen table just cleared from a family dinner; listening to music having just slipped off your shoes; daydreaming while doing the dishes. What would it be like if a series of graphic novellas tried to capture these moments? What if it also featured an omnipresent, invisible rabbit that could change sizes and a dark, cloud-shaped creature ('the Big Blind') living in the basement of an apartment building that fed on the memories, dreams, and nightmares of its inhabitants? It would probably be something like the Italian comic-book creator Gabriella Giandelli’s... Interiorae." – Nicholas Rombes, Oxford American
• Preview: At The Beat, Jessica Lee presents a 5 page sneak peek of the new book by Josh Simmons, saying "Toying with the vulnerability of characters that seem timelessly recognizable, i.e. fairies in a fantastical land or a batman-esque figure scaling a wall, The Furry Trap is a graphic novel that is set to shock and appall its reader, yet Simmons is able to retain an even stronger range of visual style that makes this graphic novel’s scope extend further than being just a horrific tale."
• Plug: "...[T]he new volume of Prince Valiant, volume 5, is here and an event all its own. Fantagraphics' new hardcover printings of these wonderful Hal Foster Sunday pages offers the finest reproduction yet, far superior to their old softcover series. While I own the original Sunday pages, collected years ago, I could not resist sitting down with these new volumes and getting re-hooked on the stories AND art by one of the very true masters of comic art." – Bud Plant
• Plug: "Out of the Shadows deserves your attention. Meskin is one of my favorite artists from the 1940s and 1950s.... Mort's work here are some of the hidden gems of the Golden Age.... This book comes a long way to reveal this incredible talent who rose above the mass of Golden Age artists." – Bud Plant
One of the greatest visual storytellers in the history of comics. That was Mort Meskin, famed Golden Age artist whose name belongs in the first rank of comics storytellers: Will Eisner, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko.
See for yourself why Meskin earned the admiration and respect of his peers (as well as contemporary critics and historians) for his atmospherically charged work, his masterful use of form and composition to convey mood and action, his noirish use of light and shadow to create suspense.
This, the first-ever collection of Meskin’s comics, surveys his work from the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. Here, in just under 200 pages, you’ll discover the artist’s amazing ability to stamp his own fresh visual imprimatur across a wide variety of genres: superheroes (The Black Terror, The Fighting Yank, a never-before published Golden Lad), adventure (the origin of Sheena, Queen of the Jungle), science fiction (Tom Corbett, Space Cadet) — plus horror, kid gangs, crime, Western — even romance!
Rescued from the fading obscurity of old, yellowing comic books, this deluxe volume meticulously reproduces his work from the best available sources. At last, Mort Meskin steps into the spotlight and — OUT OF THE SHADOWS!
Praise for Mort Meskin:
“Deserves to be treasured by all comics fans and studied by all artists of the medium” – Rich Clabaugh, Christian Science Monitor
• Commentary: "The completion of Fantagraphics's Krazy [Kat] Sunday series also means, quite possibly, the end of Krazy Kriticism — a brand of writing that, as far as I can tell, only the Kat engenders. Critic Gilbert Seldes first articulated its credo in the 1924 article 'The Krazy Kat That Walks by Himself.' After comparing Herriman to Dickens, Cervantes, and Charlie Chaplin, Seldes threw up his hands: 'It isn't possible to retell these pictures; but that is the only way, until they are collected and published, that I can give the impression of Herriman's gentle irony, of his understanding of tragedy, of the sancta simplicitas, the innocent loveliness in the heart of a creature more like Pan than any other creation of our time.' Thus did the gates open to a flood of ecstatic, mimetic writing in which every critical impulse was mercilessly drowned in gushing praise and fervent prayers to put the comics between covers." – Sarah Boxer, Los Angeles Review of Books
• Commentary: At Print magazine, Steven Brower looks at different ways comics publishers restore and present vintage comics material, including his own compilation of Mort Meskin comics, Out of the Shadows: "For the Mort Meskin collection, we hoped that a contemporary audience would rediscover him; Fantagraphic’s fresh, newly minted approach goes a long way toward achieving that."
• Review: "I mean this in the nicest possible way but self-confessed obscurist Hans Rickheit is clearly not all there in the head. ...[Folly: The Consequences of Indiscretion] is a collection of shorts from over the years, frequently featuring the same characters, in particular identical twins Cochlea & Eustachia, who inevitably get themselves into all sorts of unpleasant bother. Definitely the type of read to make you wary of opening doors when you’re not entirely sure what’s on the other side, as Hans frequently surprises his characters, and us readers, by taking you somewhere you’d never expect, nor probably want to go to." – Jonathan Rigby, Page 45
• Review: "‘Plunder Island’ is the fourth of six oversized volumes collecting all of E.C. Segar’s Popeye-era Thimble Theatre strips.... The Segar book is every bit as good as the three volumes that preceded it – brilliant cartooning and laugh-out-loud funny gags. The only difference this time around is that the Sunday strips fill the first half of the book and the dailies fill the second half (it’s usually the other way around) but otherwise it’s business as usual. I don’t have a single bad thing to say about Segar’s Popeye, and the whole book was thoroughly enjoyable..." – Rob Wells, Comics – On The Ration
• Profile: Andrew Dansby of the Houston Chronicle profiles Daniel Clowes: "Clowes describes an eerie but common sight in his studio. Since eyes are the last thing he draws when he's working, the room is full of characters without them. 'I've had other cartoonists come over, and they've told me it's pretty creepy to see all these faces with no eyes staring back,' he says. 'But that's where I can get the last 10 percent of the emotion on the page. If I get it just right, you can subtly influence any expression through the eyes more than any other feature. They're where the character comes to life.'"
Things have been hectic around here and they're only going to get hecticer. Here are the advances and sample copies that have arrived at the office since the last sneak-peek update a few weeks ago, some of which have already been spotted out in public making their debuts during our current convention gauntlet and all of which should be available between now and July.
• List:Time Out New York names the "50 Funniest New Yorkers," and coming in at #16: "Cartoonist Michael Kupperman transports his readers to another world altogether. In the recurring comic Tales Designed to Thrizzle and book-length parody Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910–2010, Kupperman perverts antiquated cultural signifiers into a jungle of foreplay robots, nut bras and absurd character concoctions such as the Mannister (a man whose superpower is turning into a bannister). Even in his live appearances — during which he occasionally appears as Twain — Kupperman has the same sort of folksy okey-doke quality as his pulpy '50s source material; but make no mistake, there's an uncanny comedy brain teeming underneath his cool exterior." – Matthew Love
• Review: "...Swarte’s work does have that free-wheeling and even irreverent feel that you’ll find in the best work of Gilbert Sheldon and Robert Crumb. Chris Ware writes the introduction to this book, and he does a good job of setting up the collection. As he points out, Is That All There Is?contains most of Swarte’s work, which has me wondering what comics were left out, and why. Regardless, this is an incredible collection that spans Swarte’s career from the early 1970s to today." – Derek Parker Royal, Ph.D.
• Review: "Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, the marquee team of the early days of comics, pioneered the romance genre in 1947 with this title, and, as you'd expect from the creators of Captain America, Young Romance wasn't bad. It had its fair share of melodramatic tear-jerkers, and occasional forays into misogyny (stupid women who need a man to teach them how to live), but Simon & Kirby also flirted with social issues like class distinctions and religious conflicts. And they didn't restrict themselves to small towns or big cities, like most romance stories, finding romance out West or in the Korean War. Young Romance offers 21 of the best of Simon & Kirby's romance stories, and that's probably just the right amount." – Andrew A. Smith, Scripps Howard News Service
• Analysis: At The Hooded Utilitarian, Robert Stanley Martin presents "one comics critic’s analysis and judgments of [Robert] Crumb’s career. I hope it’s of more interest than a pronouncement that his work is a single big project and one should just read all of it. Breaking his work down into distinct periods does, I think, help one to get a better handle on Crumb, no matter what one’s opinion of this or that individual effort. I certainly don’t think this essay is the last word. With Crumb, no essay ever is."
"...[T]his dark, disjointed story about an assortment of misfit suburban characters plagued by bad luck and their own poor choices is a compelling, bitterly funny read... Despite its obvious influences King never feels like a pale imitation, especially in the second volume, where the ante is upped considerably, both on an aesthetic and narrative level."
"Color Engineering author Yuichi Yokoyama got all the attention this year, but to my eyes Schrauwen is just as innovative and wholly original a cartoonist as Yokoyama. The main difference between the two is that where Yokoyama is focused on expressing motion, machinery and discovery, Schrauwen prefers to explore differences in perception, especially between reality and that of the imagination.... Incredibly inventive and at times darkly funny, Beard is the work of a master cartoonist worth more attention."
• List: Carol Borden of The Cultural Gutter names The Hidden by Richard Sala as one of "10 Comics I Liked in 2011": "The world is ending in madness and blood, as a bearded man flees to the countryside. But what does he know about the end and why is it mostly nubile young women who are being killed? Another tale of mayhem, mystery and mad science from Richard Sala."
• Review: "This volume [of Wandering Son] is absolutely wonderful. It has an overall very gentle feel to it, but it’s punctuated by moments of cruelty and sadness.... It’s a rare thing to get such simple realism in a manga, and Takako handles it exquisitely.... This series can be really harsh at times, but there are some great heartwarming moments, as well. That’s what makes it great." – Kristin Bomba, ComicAttack.net
Here's another 2012 sneak peek for you — Out of the Shadows, the first-ever collection of comics by unjustly overlooked Golden Age great Mort Meskin, edited by Steven Brower, author of our 2010 Meskin bio From Shadow to Light. Steven posted this cover art over on his blog, where he also reveals a spiffy-looking compilation of Golden Age Western comics he put together for powerHouse Books. They're both coming out this Spring — we've got more info on the Meskin book here on our website, and stay tuned right here for updates!