The most checked-out book of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review: Prison Pit Book 4 by Johnny Ryan is getting the hits this week. Gene Ambaum of Unshelved writes,"This reminds me of nothing as much as the violent, disturbed drawings I’ve seen in some middle-school boys’ notebooks. Next year, I’m going to tell [my daughter] it’s like a mind-map for her male classmates. If she believes me, I hope we can put off conversations about her dating for a few extra years."
• Review: Mark L. Miller of Ain't It Cool News enjoysJohnny Ryan's latest Prison Pit Book 4. "This is the kind of sick shit that would warrant a trip to the school counselor if you found this crudely etched into the back of your child’s Trapper Keeper. Johnny Ryan once again taps into something primal and pure with his crude drawings of gore, sex, and violence."
• Review:The Quietus and Mat Colgate leaf through some of the best books of 2012 including Prison Pit Book 4 by Johnny Ryan. "Every second spent reading 'Prison Pit' is a joy. A violent, scatological, faecal matter, blood and pus smeared hoot.…There's something brilliantly subversive about 'Prison Pit'," chuckles Colgate.
• Review: The AV Club checks out some new releases like The Comics Journal 302, co-edited by Kristy Valenti and Mike Dean. Noel Murray states, "Business as usual for a publication that was treating the cultural significance of comics as a known fact decades before graphic novels were making the bestseller list."
• Review:The Quietus and Mat Colgate leaf through some of the January releases including 7 Miles a Second by David Wojnarowicz, James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook. Colgate states, "Wojnarowicz was fearless about his artistry and aware that the mere facts of a life are barely a percent of the whole, preferring to reveal the truth through dreams, violent fantasy and allusion. 7 Miles a Second is a shocking book, but for all the right reasons."
• Review: Forbidden Planet's Daily Planet looks at some new releases from Fantagraphics like 7 Miles a Second by David Wojnarowicz, James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook. Matthew Rosenbery states, "The stories serve as beautiful and brutal snapshots of a brilliant life lived too hard and extinguished too soon. It is not too much to say that we all owe a great cultural debt to Mr. Wojnarowicz and picking up this book and trying to understanding his life is a good first step toward understanding that debt."
• Review: Comics Bulletin looks at Tales Designed to Thrizzle Vol. 2 by Michael Kupperman. Daniel Elkin finds it smirk-worthy: "Tales Designed to Thrizzle Volume Two has its place in the construct. It is 'silver and exact' like Sylvia Plath's Mirror and reflects the 'terrible fish' that has become our understandings of the world."
• Review: The Heart of Thomas by Moto Hagio gets the a full styling by Manga Bookshelf. Melinda Beasi writes "…teens and pre-teens who go to regular, modern public schools essentially live in their own society that is very much separate from the rest of the world, and it’s a society that is, frankly, terrifying…it views that kind of sacrifice as… well, ultimately pointless…Hagio makes it clear that running away is not the answer." Melinda continues on the book as a whole, "I also expected it to be very dated and I thought the story might not appeal to my tastes as a modern fan. Instead, I found it to be both beautiful and emotionally resonant to an extent I’ve rarely experienced—especially in [Boy's Love] manga. This is a book I’d wholeheartedly recommend to any comics fan, without reservation. It’s an absolute treasure."
• Review: The AV Club checks out some new releases like The Heart of Thomasby Moto Hagio. "with small cliffhangers at the end of each chapter to pull readers deeper into Hagio’s fantasyland. The intrigue deepens page by page (and this is a 500-page novel, mind), while Hagio develops her bracingly radical vision of a mini-society where homosexual attraction is so commonplace as to be the norm…" writes Noel Murray.
• Review:You'll Never Know Book Three: A Soldier's Heart by Carol Tyler gets a thorough and thoughtful review from Rob Clough on High-Low. "…this sounds a bit all over the map, that's because it is, but Tyler slowly pulls the strings of her narrative taut in some astonishing ways, especially in the third volume…It's a remarkable example of an artist being totally honest about their own feelings of grief and joy in a manner that provokes growth and fully embraces the relationship between the two."
• Review: Dylan Thomas of Minneapolis' Southwest Journal looks at Tom Kaczynski's Best Testing the Apocalypse. "Kaczynski uses science fiction as a microscope, poking at contemporary anxieties like blooming bacteria in a Petri dish. The genre provides the room he needs to examine the systems that shape our lives, whether they be architecture, urban design or capitalism."
• Review: Hillary Brown of Pasteenjoys the dark ride of Delphine by Richard Sala. "Sala’s rules; like testing gravity by dropping a penny from a building, the coin’s never going to fall up. Delphine is worth reading at least twice. Sala’s spell is strong."
• Review: SF Signal looks at Ralph Azham Volume 1: "Why Would You Lie to Someone You Love?" by Lewis Trondheim. "His humanoid animals, a staple of his work, place the story squarely into fantasy – along with the medieval-esque village and the magic – but the wry humor gives the story a modern feel" says Carrie Cuinn.
• Plug:Paste Magazine looks forward to the most anticipated books of 2013. These include Lost Cat by Jason. "The cranky Norwegian has seemed to soften a bit as he’s aged, and the description (detective searches for potential soulmate) goes along with that impression," write Hillary Brown. On Dash Shaw'sNew Schooland 3 New Stories. "In a few short years, Dash Shaw has proven himself a restless artist, committed to pushing what comics can do and what his own talents can accomplish… it’s nice to see him return with two works, no less."
• Plug: Publishers Weekly also released a list of the most anticipated books of 2013 which included Dash Shaw's New School. "The art disorients the reader and brings you right inside the troubled protagonists’ mind."
• Interview (video): Speaking of Dash, he recently spent a few days at Sundance for his Sigur Ros animated music video. A very short interview awaits you.
• Interview: Alexander Theroux is interviewed on Rain Taxi by Paul Maliszewski. Theroux, author of Estonia , The Strange Case of Edward Gorey , Laura Warholic and more states, "Revenge—I have written about this somewhere before—is the main subject of the modern novel, if it isn’t that of literature in general."
• Review:The Los Angeles Review of Books looks at Gary Panter's Dal Tokyo. Nicole Rudick writes "Panter’s medium is comics rather than architecture, but the effect of his work is the same: Dal Tokyo questions accepted notions of structure and meaning — taking them not as truth but as convention — and, taking Brecht’s advice, builds not 'on the good old days, but on the bad new ones.' "
• Review:The Weekly Crisis dissects the first panel of "Landscape!" a comic within Blazing Combat and how it contributed to the end of the series coinciding with the Vietnam War. Dan Hill states "At a time when an anti-war stance was tantamount to being a traitor to your country, it was also the beginning of comics beginning to tackle the uglier aspects of war, telling us exactly ‘how it is’. It showed us that comics could discuss and show issues more related to the real world than capes, tights and outlandish fantasy."
• Review:Paste Magazine looks at Linda Medley's Castle Waiting Vol. 1 (softcover). Sean Edgar writes, "Ultimately, Castle Waiting is an elegantly-written, uplifting take on European folklore supported by sterling art. As long as voices as talented and creative as Medley’s are around, stories like this will always be timeless."
• Interview: Robin McConnell of Inkstuds interviews Chris Wright for a second time, this time on his most recent graphic novel, Blacklung.
• Plug:The GLBT Roundtable's Rainbow Project lists best books for teens that encapsulate the GLBT-community issues. The Rainbow Project lists Shimura Takako's Wandering Son series as part of the Top Ten Books of 2012 as the characters "tackle problems such as gender identity, love, social acceptance, and puberty."
• Plug: The GLBT Roundtable also released a list of the best books for adults, Over the Rainbow, and the comics anthology No Straight Lines, edited by Justin Hall,was listed in the top ten.
• Interview: Tim O'Shea interviews Lilli Carré for Comic Book Resources on her process with Heads or Tails. "I went through all my stuff and arranged them not chronologically, but by how they each fed into each other… I don’t know if the dialogue I write or the way I draw is particularly well-crafted or not, but with both the art and dialogue I go with my gut and do what feels natural to me."
• Review: New York Journal of Books takes a turn around the room with The Complete Syndicated Pogo Vol 2 "Bona Fide Balderdash" by Walt Kelly. Mark Squirek writes, "Like the greatest of myths and fables, Pogo travels across time and ages. It is a world much like that of Aesop and trickster tales. It is a world capable of making a six year old smile with glee, a hipster smirk whether they want to or not, and a college professor laugh out loud… So graceful is his work with pencil and pen that you could loose yourself for hours in shear artistry of the panels he constructs."
• Plug:Westfield Blog suggests some books for you likeThe Complete Syndicated Pogo Vol 2 "Bona Fide Balderdash" by Walt Kelly."Walt Kelly’s art is a joy to look at and his dialogue and word play is just stunning. Pogo is a strip that you get more and more out of the more you read it," states Wayne Markley. And for Basil Wolverton's Spacehawk, "In the history of comics, there are very few, if any, that had such a unique style as Wolverton which, while as far away as you can get from classic illustrators like Raymond or Foster, it is every bit as good in its own unique way."
• Review: HeroesOnline looks at the latest Prince Valiant Vol. 6: 1947-1948. Andy writes "…the pace is fast, the action and intrigue are plenty and the violence is un-apologetically bloody. In addition, Foster was a stickler for historical accuracy in depicting everyday life in the 6th century."
• Review: Ryan Sands of Same Hat writes his 'belated' best of list which inludes Nancy Likes Christmas by Ernie Bushmiller and The End of the Fucking World by Charles Foresman.
• Plug: Tom Spurgeon announced the Peanuts Every Sunday book on Comics Reporter. More information tomorrow.
• Plug: Robot6 talks about Great but Forgotten anthologies. Fantagraphics' "Zero Zero ran for 27 issues, a longer run than most of the anthologies on this list received, but I don’t think it’s ever gotten its due as the truly great anthology of the ’90s." Chris Mautner continues with Blab, "I do think people have forgotten how cutting edge and exemplary an anthology Blab was, at least initially. For a while there it was running some seriously incredible work, like Al Columbia’s apocalyptic The Trumpets They Played, and the Jimmy Corrigan story that eventually became Acme Novelty #10, easily the most harrowing and darkest material Ware has produced to date." And finally Blood Orange, "Lasting a mere four issues, Blood Orange offered a mind-bending array of cutting-edge comics." WORRY NOT, we still have issues from someofthese.
Happy New Year's! Here's to a great year of books and the next year and the year after that. We salute you and thank you for your friendship and purchases. Some of you sent in photos reading books from this year (and a few past ones).
The newly formatted, 600+ page Comics Journal proved a resounding success with 2011’s edition. 2012’s Volume 302 is sure to prove just as essential and exciting to comics readers worldwide.
This edition’s cover feature is a long, intimate interview-portrait with and of Maurice Sendak, the greatest and most successful children’s book author of the 20th — and 21st — century, the author of Where the Wild Things Are, In the Night Kitchen, Outside Over There, Higglety Piggelty Pop, and the illustrator of works by Herman Melville, Leo Tolstoy, and Randall Jarrell. In his longest published interview (and one of the last before his death in 2012), Sendak looks back over a career spanning over 60 years and talks to Gary Groth about art, life, and death (especially death), how his childhood, his parents, and his siblings affected his art and outlook, his search for meaning — and also, on the lighter side, about his love (and hate) of movies. And his unbridled comments on the political leadership of the previous decade have already garnered national media attention and controversy.
Sharing equal billing in this issue's flip-book format: Kim Thompson conducts a career-spanning interview with French graphic novel pioneer Jacques Tardi. The two explore the Eisner Award-winner’s genre-spanning oeuvre comprising historical fiction, action-adventure, crime-thriller, “icepunk” and more, focusing on Tardi's working methods (with step by step illustration), collaborations and other media (such as film and animation), and his fascination with World War I. Plus, Matthias Wivel examines Tardi's adaptation of Léo Malet's 120, Rue de la Gare.
Also in this issue, Art Spiegelman conducts a wide-ranging aesthetic colloquy on classic kids’ comics (Carl Barks’s Donald Duck, John Stanley’s Little Lulu, Sheldon Mayer’s Sugar and Spike, and many more) with a group of comics critics and historians. Bob Levin provides a revelatory investigation of the twisted history of the "Keep on Truckin’" litigation and a fascinating biographical portrait of R. Crumb’s lawyer, Albert Morse. Warren Bernard writes a ground-breaking historical investigation of the 1954 Senate Subcommittee Hearing on Juvenile Delinquency. R.C. Harvey looks at Bill Hume's Babysan and Donald Phelps examines Percy Crosby's Skippy. And a tribute to the late Dylan Williams from his peers and the artists he published.
Plus: “How to Draw Buz Sawyer” by renowned newspaper cartoonist Roy Crane (and a previously unpublished interview), a new comic by Joe Sacco and one by Lewis Trondheim in English for the first time, Tim Kreider on Chester Brown, Tom Crippen on Mort Weisinger and Superman, Rich Kreiner on "difficult comics," and a visual gallery of and commentary on proto-comics.
The Comics Journal has been for 37 years the world’s foremost critical magazine about comics. It is now more vital than ever, a gigantic print compendium of critiques, interviews, and comics.
Behold, the new issue of The Comics Journal, an edition so awesome we made it a flip-book with TWO cover features: Gary Groth's newsmaking interview with the late Maurice Sendak on one side, and Kim Thompson's interview with Jacques Tardi on the other side. (To clarify, there aren't two separate covers; every copy has both covers and which one's the "front" depends on which way you turn it.) And there's a whooole lotta stuff in between. Look for excerpts to be posted on TCJ.com as the release date nears (early February being our current best guess). TCJ sets the agenda for intelligent comics conversation, so pre-order your copy today and don't get left behind.
THE COMPLETE COMICS JOURNAL ARCHIVES JOIN THE UNDERGROUND AND INDEPENDENT COMICS ARCHIVE FROM ALEXANDER STREET PRESS
Fantagraphics Books, publisher of The Comics Journal, has announced a partnership with Alexander Street Press to make the complete archive of the The Comics Journal available as part of its Underground and Independent Comics online collection. This is the first-ever scholarly online collection for researchers and students of literary and underground comic books and graphic novels, and the inclusion of more than 25,000 pages of interviews, commentary, theory and criticism from the 35 year history of The Comics Journal marks a significant contribution to the academic study of the comics form.
“Most back issues of The Comics Journal are sold out and unavailable,” says Comics Journal founder and Fantagraphics President Gary Groth. “This will allow academics, critics, and historians access to the magazine that's covered the widest range of cartooning for the longest period of time. We believe Alexander Street Press' project serves an important cultural function and we're very pleased to be part of it.”
The Underground and Independent Comics online collection covers the works that inspired the first underground comix from the 1960s (such as works by Basil Wolverton and Harvey Kurtzman), to the first generation of underground cartoonists (including R. Crumb, Gilbert Shelton, Spain Rodriguez and many others) and encompasses modern sequential artists like Gilbert Hernandez, Jaime Hernandez and Daniel Clowes, with over 75,000 pages of comics from the 1950s to present. With the inclusion of The Comics Journal archives, scholars can now similarly trace the roots of comics criticism and have access to the Journal’s incomparable oral history of the field.
Institutions who have already subscribed or purchased the archive include the Library of Congress, British Library, Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Notre Dame and many others.
Comics have become an increasingly popular area of academic study, and yet the typical library has only a small selection of graphic novels in the catalog. Underground and Independent Comics solves this problem, collecting thousands of comics and related texts in one, easy-to-use online collection. With multiple combinable search fields, users can sort the materials in the collection by type, coloring, publication date, writer, penciler, inker, character, genre, publisher and more. Scholarship never before possible is now just a few keystrokes away.
“The chance to have access to 100,000 pages of underground and new wave comics in ways that were unimaginable a short time ago should change the face of comics research completely.” — James Danky, faculty of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications, University of Wisconsin-Madison
The most recent ramblin' Online Commentaries & Diversions:
•Commentary:ABC News and Amy Bingham picked up a few quotes by a partial interview online by Gary Groth with Maurice Sendak. The full interview will be published in The Comics Journal #302 in December: “Bush was president, I thought, ‘Be brave. Tie a bomb to your shirt. Insist on going to the White House. And I want to have a big hug with the vice president, definitely."
•Commenary:MSNBC's Kurt Schlosser also writes on Maurice Sendak's TCJ #302 interview. In the article, associate publisher Eric Reynolds is also quoted, "[Sendak] was at the point in his life where he clearly didn't give a damn about propriety; he could speak his mind and clearly enjoyed provocation. I see these comments as part and parcel of his personality, not as a legitimate, actionable, treasonous threat."
•Review:The Washington Times takes a close look at Mr. Twee Deedle, edited by Rick Marschall. The long-forgotten artwork of Johnny Gruelle inspired writer Michael Taube: "Mr. Twee Deedle’s world is, quite simply, a series of innocent tales in a fantasyland that any child - and many adults - would have loved to experience, if but for a short while."
•Plug:The Frank Book by Jim Woodring gets a nice staff recommendation on theHarvard Book Store site. Craig H. says, "[Frank] takes us on his adventures through the psychedelic terrain of “The Unifactor,” a universe alive with rich pen-width and symmetrical, flying devices.
•Plug (audio): In the first few minutes of podcast Bullseye with Jesse Thorn, Angelman is recommended. Comics journalist Brian Heater of the Daily Crosshatch says, "it's Sergio Aragonés meets David Foster Wallace. . . about a little red winged superhero and his powers are good listening and empathy."
Late last year Gary Groth interviewed the recently-departed Maurice Sendak for the forthcoming next issue of The Comics Journal (#302, due toward the end of this year). At TCJ.com, Gary shares the story of how his encounter with Sendak came together along with a sneak peek of a few choice snippets from the interview.
• Plug: "Listen, Whitey!is the largest collection of Black Power recordings, and the only book of its kind. Even if you’re not that much into social history or political music, the rock and soul rabble rousing and poetic preachers and extrapolative urban players here are exciting to listen to, and the artwork accompanying it in both the CD booklet and the full book is extraordinary." – The KEXP Blog
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