The Online Commentary & Diversions hamster wheel started spinning a little too fast, but I think I've got it back under control now:
• Feature: For Largehearted Boy's "Book Notes" feature, Wilfred Santiago creates a musical playlist for 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente: "Golden age animation has been a big influence on my work and the graphic novel itself is very musical. It would be interesting to see the shape that it would take as a feature film. So here is what the 21 soundtrack would sound like."
(The following links are via the Largehearted Boy link above:)
• Review: "The graphic novel  is a beautifully wrought Clemente collage, following the hitter from the impactful events of childhood through his career as a Pirate and up to his untimely death. While there were several poignant dramatic through lines, the book’s strength lies in its brilliant visuals, which far outweigh its strictly biographical content. In addition to his many other notable qualities, like his humanitarianism and his greatness as a player, Clemente was a beautiful man, with a striking physicality. Drawing on this aesthetic truth, Santiago stuns and heightens it, with an imaginative and dramatic illustrative style, with its palette of Pirates yellow, and orange and black. The oral tradition of myth-making is put into visual form here." – Ted Walker, Pitchers & Poets
• Review: "The comic book biography is alive and well in 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente... In 21, Wilfred Santiago, who was also born in Puerto Rico, uses the language of comic books to tell the story of Clemente’s life as something like the arc of the hero’s journey or as a heroic epic.... 21 captures what made Clemente unique. However, Santiago uses the medium of the comic book in a unique way to tell the story of man who represents the best of us. [Grade] A-" – Leroy Douresseaux, I Reads You
• Review: "...I love a good graphic novel biography. Well as those of you who are familiar with the great baseball player and humanitarian that Roberto Clemente was already know, it would be hard to tell his story in any media and for that story not to be powerful. ...21 ... is a handsome production... [and] an... EXCELLENT graphic novel." – Ralph Mathieu, Ich Liebe Comics!
• Plug: "21: The Story of Roberto Clementeby Wilfred Santiago, a graphic novel by an illustrator and writer from Puerto Rico, received a nice write up in a recent issue of Sports Illustrated (linked here)... If we could only have found it at the book store. Sports shelves? Graphic novels? You give it a shot." – Tom Hoffarth, Los Angeles Daily News
• Review: "...Mattotti is an artist who is equally concerned with complex imagery and sharp storytelling — attention to that combination leads us to what makes Mattotti so great. Claudio Piersanti wrote a very crisp script for Stigmata, and Mattotti illuminates the story deftly, probably because he has a real appreciation for well told stories.... If one’s standard for great cartooning is drawing that tells a story without a shred of vagueness, Mattotti’s work on the events described above is thrilling in its virtuosity. But this is a work of art far more potent than a simple story well-told. Mattotti’s two extremes — that of high level storytelling and drawing that suggests unique emotions — exist side by side without any fuss." – Austin English, The Comics Journal
• Review: "While the core timeline of Freeway is only a few hours of frustration spent in traffic, Alex’s mind wanders through past fiction and reality, present fact, and fantasy. Kalesniko, who himself worked at Disney as an animator, designed his main character as an anthropomorphic dog. The result is a wistful, innocent, and somewhat naive protagonist who is coming to the realization that his childhood dreams aren’t quite turning out as he planned.... It is definitely worth the challenge of meandering through the crammed vehicles to reach those poignant moments of Alex’s life, moments many of us share in our own versions of our adult selves." – Ashley Cook, Giant Fire Breathing Robot
• Review: "Less able graphic novelists might scare themselves silly with the scope of this book, but Mark Kalesniko’s attention to detail in all aspects of his craft — the backgrounds, the emotional ranges of the characters and the slow but steady-paced urbane drama — blends the components together masterfully.... [Freeway] is deeply sophisticated and literary. It deals with humanity’s big questions – love, death, life, and what we do with our time. It’s funny, touching, heart-warming, tragic and very engaging." – Andy Shaw, Grovel
• Review: "Gilbert’s sketches actually give an insight into how he feels about his characters, and as a reader, I found myself understanding the characters a bit more, just by looking at his drawings.... The work in the ‘Jaime’ section is quite beautiful and well drawn, however, it does not give further insights into the ways in which Jaime sees his characters, or what he has planned for them... To sum up, Love and Rockets Sketchbook Volume 2 is pretty awesome." – Lisa Polifroni, lisaloves2read
• Interview: At Inkstuds, a 2008 conversation with Johnny Ryan conducted and with illustations by Josh Bayer: "It’s interesting that you bring it up because people always demand that artists deliver some sort of meaning and truth, and when that truth’s hideous they throw up their arms and get upset and have hurt feelings and it’s 'you’re ruining people’s lives.' There’s conflict; you want the art to be true, but don’t want to be shown stuff that makes you feel bad, you can’t make people feel good all the time, it's not true, the object is to make people feel something. There’s no rule that it has to be something good."
• Interview:The Daily Cross Hatch wraps up their serialization of the transcript of Brian Heater's MoCCA panel conversation with Peter Bagge: "I used to worry about what my peers thought. That’s a big mistake. Never worry about what your peers think, because then you always find out that they would have done it in a heartbeat. [Laughter] If you take anything away from this conversation, it should be 'fuck Dan Clowes.'"
• Feature:The Seattle Times' Marian Liu previews our Charles Peterson: Taking Punk to the Masses exhibit at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery: "'I was wondering why this kid was bothering to take photos,' said Larry Reid, curator of the Fantagraphics show, of Peterson. Now, flipping through the photos, Reid remembers each scene as if it happened yesterday. Drawn to the energy of the music, Reid was a good decade older than many in the scene then. He shepherded the artists by promoting their shows and allowing them to play in his gallery's basement. 'I can recognize the artists by their shoes,' said Reid, looking through the photos."
• Plug: "For a reality check, I turned to a former Rolling Stone colleague and friend who always seemed to have a better line on all things cultural than anyone else around and a way of stating his position in a manner that set him apart, way apart, from other music writers — make that writers, period — of his time, and boy does he put today’s snarky music press to shame. This would be the late Paul Nelson... (Nelson’s life and work are getting their just due in September with the publication of a long-awaited, diligently researched biography by Kevin Avery, Everything Is An Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson. Full disclosure: Yours truly was among those Avery interviewed. But buy the book anyway.)" – David McGee, The Bluegrass Special
• Plug: "I’m in the process of reading an advance of Everything Is An Afterthought, Kevin Avery’s biography and selected works of the music critic Paul Nelson. Reading Nelson’s writing reminds me how of the role that he and other music critics of the time — our own John Swenson included — played in creating the myth of New York City for me." – Alex Rawls, OffBeat
• Plug: "Back in 2003, Lou Reed paid tribute to poet Edgar Allen Poe with his sprawling The Raven, which didn't exactly strike a positive chord with the many critics and fans at the time. Nevertheless, Reed will now be revisiting that album with a new illustrated book. The book, also titled The Raven, was made in collaboration with Italian illustrator Lorenzo Mattotti.... We originally called The Raven 'bizarre and thoroughly uneven.' We'll have to see if this new illustrated spin helps to make the entire album a bit more rewarding." – Alex Hudson, exclaim.ca
• Review: "...Everything is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson by Kevin Avery — due out this November from Fantagraphic Books — is an absolutely riveting and (I think) important read. ...I'm only halfway through the book at the moment, but I can tell you that Avery has done an absolutely smashing job of research and that there's a lot to chew on here about all sorts of issues... I'll have more to say about it later in the year, when it's actually in print, but rest assured that this would be an important book if Avery had done nothing more than get some of Nelson's brilliant essays and reviews between hardcovers, where they clearly belong, at last." – Steve Simels, PowerPop
• Review: "Ott’s psychobilly sensibilities litter his narrative world with pimps, thugs and geeks; desperate chancers, deadly beloveds and down and outs on the edge of reality as well as society, so if jaded comics fans might feel they’ve been here before, the wider world are still only curious first-timers into a dismal dimension of vice, spice and bad advice. Graphic, violent funny and unforgettable [R.I.P.: Best of 1985-2004] is a special treat for thrill-starved adults in search of something a little beyond the norm." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Commentary: "It's fascinating to see the history of comics play out in real time by reading these 30-year-old 'fanzines' (which is what The Comics Journal was called by pretty much everyone who refers to the magazine within its pages, even though it was already much more than that within the first few years of its existence) and reflect on how much the industry has changed and yet how the same questions and concerns from 1980 still pop up in conversations around the comic book water cooler today." – Timothy Callahan, Comic Book Resources
The Strand, who are obsessive about documenting all their events on video, bless 'em, have posted numerous clips from their pre-MoCCA "Strandicon" spate of comics-related panels and presentations, including The Comics Journal panel with (L-R above) Dan Nadel & Tim Hodler of TCJ.com, TCJ executive editor/Fantagraphics honcho Gary Groth, and token artist Kim Deitch. The Beat has already done all the heavy lifting of compiling and embedding the clips into a single blog post, so we'll throw it over there for all your viewing enjoyment.
• Feature: At Care2, Wilfred Santiago, creator of 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente, writes about Clemente the humanitarian: "Clemente was aware that being a baseball player gave him the resources to do even greater good than he could have imagined. Most importantly, we have the opportunity to know and share his life story, and for that, we all are very fortunate to come across the history of a man like Roberto Clemente."
• Review: "The art is wonderful. Tardi has this rounded style that is unique and easily identifiable, all at once his signature. The level of detail is astounding, in the background and mechanical details as rendered faux woodcuts...: be sure to drink in every inch of this black and white work. [...] At $17 for a sixty-four page oversized hardcover [The Arctic Marauder] is a great value: ...it stands as a great period work with wonderfully detailed art." – Scott VanderPloeg, Comic Book Daily
• Review: "As an art book From Shadow to Light is stunning; ...it offers a remarkable and overdue testament to [Mort] Meskin (1916-1995), one of the seminal yet overshadowed figures of the comic book’s formative era. I can’t imagine not having this book in the Platonic comics studies library. [...] Of the recent bounty of deluxe books exhibiting vintage comic art — surely this is the Golden Age for comic book historiography and appreciation? — From Shadow to Light is one of the best. It is beautiful. Its design is dynamic yet coherent... The survival of so many Meskin originals, from comic book pages through storyboards and advertising comps to paintings, even to sketches on (!) paper towels, is itself cause for celebration, and, man, Brower exhibits these objects to advantage." – Charles Hatfield, The Panelists
• Plug:Reason's Brian Doherty touts: "Reason's cartoonist genius Peter Bagge will be leaving his Seattle stronghold and blessing the people of New York with his luminous presence this week in multiple venues [MoCCA, Desert Island & Scott Eder Gallery]. ... It'll be a Baggapalooza weekend! If you live anywhere near New York, check out one or all of his appearances. If you live on Earth, buy all [his new] books [Hate Annual #9 and Yeah!]."
• Interview:The Daily Cross Hatch's Brian Heater begins a multipart conversation with Mome contributor Noah Van Sciver: "I have some Zap Comics, but besides the Crumb stuff, it just does nothing for me. But I like the freedom that they had in the 60s. I’m more into the 80s and 90s."
We're thrilled to present the Fantagraphics guide to the 2011 MoCCA Fest, happening this weekend Saturday, April 9th and Sunday, April 10th at the Lexington Avenue Armory in New York City! Print this out and use it as your shopping checklist and your weekend schedule!
First off, take a look at all the amazing new releases that we will be debuting at the show! Many of these books won't be in stores for several more months, and copies are limited, so make our table your first stop, or risk missing out!
Secondly, check out our jam-packed schedule of awesome authors who will be signing at the Fantagraphics table over the weekend. Not only will they be signing our books, but several of them will be bringing previews of works-in-progress!
another update: Tim Kreider will be joining us on Saturday afternoon at 2:30 pm before his panel at 4:30 pm!
All this and more awaits you at the Fantagraphics booth, located at #J1, J2, K1, K2.
And finally, get a gander at all these great panels! If you haven't already heard from The Daily Cross Hatch, they've added a second room this year, and they'll be doing more one-on-one conversations like the ones with Gahan Wilson and Peter Bagge listed below! You won't want to miss it!
Saturday, April 9th
11:30 am // Teaching Comics:Jessica Abel joins fellow panelists Bill Kartalopoulos and Tom Hart in a discussion from reading for content/visuals, to teaching how to “read” their visual rhetoric, to thinking about how to tell a story visually, what makes comics worth teaching? (Room A)
1:30 pm // Building a Book, From Start to Finish: Mark Newgarden moderates a panel with Stephen DeStefano (as well as Ben Katchor and Lauren Redniss), with an exploration of the blood, sweat, and tears that go into making a book. (Room A)
1:30 pm // Gahan Wilson: Playboy and Beyond: We explore the long, storied career of satirist Gahan Wilson. (Room B)
2:30 pm // Volunteer of the Year: Peter Kuper will present Al Jaffee with the Klein Award! (Room A)
2:30 pm // Dash Shaw and Brecht Evens in Conversation: Dash Shaw and Brecht Evens are among the most prodigious and prolific young artists working in comics today. Both began publishing ambitious work while still in school, and both have since gained notice for their lush, inventive, and thoughtful comics. (Room B)
4:30 pm // The State of Editorial Cartooning: Brian Heater presents a panel with Tim Kreider (along with Ruben Bolling and Ted Rall) on the trials and tribulations of creating political cartoons in 2011. (Room A)
5:30 pm // MoCCA Presents the Cross Hatch Carousel: Cartoonists and voice actors perform live comics readings, featuring our own Michael Kupperman and Ted Stearn, as well as Jeffrey Lewis, R. Sikoryak, Kate Beaton, Lisa Hanawalt, Julie Klausner, and more. (Room A)
Sunday, April 10th
12:30 pm // Almost True: Calvin Reid leads a discussion on where autobiography and fiction collide with Gabrielle Bell and Leslie Stein (and Joe Ollmann and Pascal Girard). (Room A)
1:30 pm // Peter Bagge: A History of Hate: Brian Heater spotlights Peter Bagge, in a one-on-one conversation with one of alternative comics’ most influential and enduring voices. (Room B)
1:30 pm // The Enterprising Will Eisner: Charles Brownstein leads a panel with Jules Feiffer, as well as Denis Kitchen and Paul Levitz. Come learn about who Will Eisner was as an entrepreneuring artist in a time when New York was the center of the commercial art universe, and how his art was shaped by that environment. (Room A)
3:30 pm // Ink Panthers Live: The popular podcast live, with special guests, like John Kerschbaum. (Room B)
The infamous Strand Bookstore in New York City is known for its "18 miles of books," and on Friday, April 8th, they're devoting at least one of those miles to Strandicon, a celebration of comics!
The Strand will be hosting an afternoon of special appearances (including a 6:00 pm appearance by Dash Shaw), and the evening concludes with a celebration of The Comics Journal, featuring a panel with editors Tim Hodler and Dan Nadel, along with founding editor Gary Groth and longtime cartoonist and TCJ interviewee Kim Deitch.
So, if you live in New York, or if you'll be town for MoCCA, join us at 7:00 pm for what's sure to be a spirited discussion! (Strandicon will take place in the Comics & Graphic Novels Department of the Strand, on the Second Floor at 828 Broadway / 12th Street.)
On his Cozy Lummox blog, award-winning designer Eric Skillman discusses his process for putting together the new issue of The Comics Journal: "I was pretty excited when Jacob Covey emailed me to ask if I might be interested in re-designing the venerable Comics Journal for its upcoming relaunch as an annual (rather than monthly) publication. Then I found out it was going to be 600-something pages. But by that point it was too late to say no! (I'm kidding... mostly.)" It's a fascinating behind-the-scenes peek!
• Review: "The main thing I kept thinking about while reading Wandering Son— beyond the continuous undercurrent of general squee — is how things that seem insignificant to one person can be secretly, intensely significant to someone else. [...] The story is subtle, simple, poignant, and innocent. The tone is matched by Shimura’s uncluttered artwork, which features big panels, little screentone, and extremely minimal backgrounds." – Michelle Smith, Soliloquy in Blue
• Interview:The A.V. Club Denver talks to "arguably Denver’s premier underground comic artist" Noah Van Sciver: "People e-mail me to ask if they can send me a comic. They’re sending me these hand-stapled comics and asking me what I think. It’s great. If you’re not going to be paid a lot, you might as well meet like-minded people and start a gang." (Via Robot 6)
• Profile: "Olivier Schrauwen is not the first Belgian cartoonist that I would have pegged for success in the United States, but I'm certainly not going to complain about the opportunities that he is receiving. Since the publication of his book My Boy in English translation, he has published short pieces in Mome and elsewhere, generating a solid buzz for his idiosyncratic take on human disconnectedness. His new book, L'Homme qui se laissait pousser la barbe (Actes Sud/L'An 02) collects a number of short works that have been anthologized around the world, and was nominated for a prize at this year's Angouleme Festival. It will be published later this year in English as The Man Who Grew His Beard by Fantagraphics. [...] L'Homme is a collection of seven short pieces that can be read very quickly or studied for days." – Bart Beaty, The Comics Reporter
• Profile:iFanboy's Chris Arrant profiles Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery as part of their "Publishers Who Have Their Own Comic Book Stores" feature: "Opening in late 2006, this Seattle store acts as defacto gift shop and gallery extension of the long-time publisher's comics line. The store boasts a complete repository of everything Fantagraphics has in print — as well as a number of rarities you wouldn't find most anywhere else."
• Review: "Does this make Special Exits seem like a downer? Good. It is a downer. It's also funny and touching, and gratifyingly cleareyed about the messy emotions involved in caring for aging parents. [...] It's no spoiler to reveal that Special Exits doesn't have a happy ending. After all, no one gets a happy ending. But thanks to the hard work and loving care of Laura — and some heaven-sent hospice workers — her parents die more gracefully than many. And thanks to the thoughtful writing and art of Joyce Farmer, their lives and deaths will be a comfort to readers beginning to consider the end of their parents' lives — or their own." – Dan Kois, The Washington Post
Gary Groth provided this description of the issue:
"This was our special sex & violence issue, published at the height of a minor but persistent media brouhaha over the sexual and violence quotient in 'grown-up' comics from Marvel and DC. DC had implemented a ratings system — or announced it — and a number of creators — Frank Miller, Alan Moore, Howard Chaykin — were up in arms over it. This was a remarkably solid issue analyzing the question from every which way. I approached Jim Woodring for a cover and he did a doozy, encapsulating the theme in a single image. It would've been the issue's art director who literally pasted it all up, using wax and photostats and typesetting-on-film. Those were the days."