Kristian Williams continues to explore the cloudy world of Garth Ennis' aerial warfare stories; Sean Michael Robinson talks to attorneys on both sides of the obscenity case of an Idaho schoolteacher imprisoned for possession of sexually explicit cartoon parodies of The Simpsons; R.C. Harvey stakes out Secret Agent Corrigan; Rob Clough tackles Anders Nislen’s Big Questions and John Brodowski's Curio Cabinet; a new Latin American blog by Jesse Tangen-Mills; and much more!
Marc Sobel and his Android read comics; Kristian Williams takes to the sky with Garth Ennis for an in-depth analysis of the writer's aerial war stories; Rob Clough tours Seth's Palookaville; Nathan Wilson looks at Andy Diggle's Rat Catcher and more!
The Bob Haney interview concludes as the longtime DC writer talks about the failure of cartoonists to unionize, The Brave and the Bold and collaborating with Ramona Fradon on Metamorpho. Also: Reviews of Gonzo: A Graphic Biography of Hunter Thompson, Marvel's Strange Tales Vol. II and Pablo Holmberg's Eden. And check out The Panelists , a new blog merging the brainy best of Jared Gardner's Guttergeek and Craig Fischer and Charles Hatfield's Thought Balloonists.
Yeah, we're great, and our books are late. Why, what did you think the headline meant?
Anyway, a new year is upon and it's time to 'fess up about all the late Fantagraphics titles you were expecting to have by now, and don't, because we suck. Specific apologia and weaseling have been added to some titles, others we just pass under mortified silence. 2011 will be better!
The following have been rescheduled: • THE ANTIC CARTOON ART OF T.S. SULLIANT will be reformatted, rethought, re-solicited, and released in early 2012 • FORLORN FUNNIES VOLUME 1 by Paul Hornschemeier will be released in the Summer of 2011 • THE HIDDEN by Richard Sala will be re-solicited and released in July 2011 • HOW TO READ NANCY will be re-solicited and released in 2012 in a vastly expanded version from what we first expected • IS THAT ALL THERE IS? (né MODERN SWARTE, originally announced for 2007) in late Fall 2011: Yes, Joost has turned in all the files and publishers in three countries are synchronizing their watches! • NANCY IS HAPPY will be released in late 2011: It turns out that there was more production work than we anticipated to make the book as perfect as humanly possible.) • POGO VOLUME 1 will be released in the Fall of 2011 - yes, seriously, for real this time
• List: Cathy Malkasian's Temperance is one of Largehearted Boy's Favorite Graphic Novels of 2010: "I have been creating a list of my favorite graphic novels of all time, and as the list grows smaller, one title remains near the top of the pile. Cathy Malkasian's debut, Percy Gloom, skillfully told (and illustrated) its story, and wholly transported the reader into an alternative world. Malkasian is back with another stellar graphic novel, Temperance, a dark and literate dystopian fable centered on themes of violence and control."
• Review: "...Joyce Farmer... in the ’70s contributed to the feminist anthology Wimmen’s Comix and helped create a notorious series about women’s sexuality whose title can’t be reproduced here. She’s kept a fairly low profile since then, but her new book, Special Exits, is forceful, unsparing and equally concerned, in its way, with saying the unsayable. [...] Farmer’s tone recalls her underground days and suits the gently rambling narrative. [...] She renders her wobbly, minutely textured characters with wit and tough affection, and her habit of looking for the darkly funny side of everything keeps the book from getting too bleak." – Douglas Wolk, The New York Times Sunday Book Review
• Profile: Cindy Frazier of the Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot talks to Joyce Farmer and her early publishing partner Lyn Chevli: "'So I put a sign in the window saying, "Artist Wanted,"' Chevli said. Farmer, who worked at a bail bonds office next door, responded. The rest is comic book history, as the pair became pioneer women comic book publishers."
• Profile: Jennifer Erickson of the Laguna Beach Independent talks to Joyce Farmer: "While she honed very useful skills of observation at art school, 'reading about Socrates was life changing,' said Farmer, struck by inequities of contemporary society that echo ancient times. 'I wanted to do things to improve our culture – make the world a better place,' she said."
• Review: "Norwegian cartoonist Jason is a genius, full-stop, and that statement is undeniable by anyone who has even a passing knowledge of his work. ....What I Did... practically sell[s] itself, but those still in doubt can be assured that, apart from it being an excellent deal, the quality of the work within this book is impeccable. [...] Each story on its own is unquestionably superb, and readers will delight in the moods Jason evokes and the artistic techniques he employs. Together the stories in What I Did are sterling examples of Jason’s fantastic skill as both an illustrator and a storyteller that are well worth the purchase in spite of their vast differences in tone, style, and content." – Steve Higgins, PLAYBACK:stl
• Review: "Well, no children are brutally murdered in this one, so thank heaven for small favors! Of the Fritz B-movie books so far... [The Troublemakers] is the most straightforwardly a product of genre. Grifters and gunplay, seductions and quadruple-crosses, all that stuff. [...] And there’s magic, too, but like everything else it’s just used to fuck other people over." – Sean T. Collins, Attentiondeficitdisorderly
• Review: "The chief surprise with Newave! is the vitality and merit it sustains throughout its length and not so much in its content, although there is a lot of content … well over 70 complete minis from the day. This is altogether riveting stuff, a host of guerilla comics from so many different hands offering an astonishing variety of visual experiences." – Rich Kreiner, The Comics Journal
• Plug: "Compiled... to catalog the sometimes glorious, sometimes ignominious, always entertaining history of punks-on-film, this anthology [Destroy All Movies!!!] features over 1,100 mohawked rockers, funky new-wavers, and down-and-out weirdos..." – Thrillist
• Plug: "Fantagraphics have done an amazing job putting together this huge slab of Stan Sakai's samurai epic [Usagi Yojimbo: The Special Edition]. Over a thousand pages in a gorgeous slipcased two-volume set that may be overkill, but isn't that what the holidays are about?" – "Lydia Park," The Rack
• Coming Attractions: Greek site Comicdom reports on the triumphant return of The Comics Journal with issue #301 (coming in February 2011)
• Coming Attractions:Bleeding Coolreports on our Spring 2011 publication of Jim Woodring's Congress of the Animals and also reports on our Summer 2011 publication of Dave McKean's Celluloid
We have no new books arriving in comic shops this week, but we do have a couple of things scheduled to make a return appearance, so check with your local shop and grab them if you missed them the first time:
Just found in a neglected cranny in our warehouse, the following 6 issues of The Comics Journal, previously thought to be sold out! There are some classic issues in this batch, including the notorious Groth vs. McFarlane throwdown, the "Violence in Comics" issue featuring Wertham & Woodring, and some rare early Dan Clowes sketchbook pages. There's only a handful of each so get them while you can:
#68: Two panel discussions with Frank Miller, Denny O'Neil, Louise Jones, Roy Thomas, Julius Schwartz, Jim Shooter, and Len Wein. X-Men cover by Kevin Nowlan; a Guide to Holiday Animated Specials; Rick Marschall; R.C. Harvey; Superman II; more!
#124: Jules Feiffer speaks out in a far-ranging interview that covers politics, Will Eisner, the Popeye movie, Jack Nicholson, working for Playboy, and more. Plus the legendary "Summer Reading List," "Funnybook Roulette," news and more!
#133: Special "Violence in Comics" issue with a lurid cover by Jim Woodring and featuring interviews with Dr. Thomas Radecki and Dr. Fredric Wertham; "Siren Song of Blood": the rise of remorselessly violent vigilantes; Comics on Trial 1954: a look back at the infamous Senate hearings; more!
#144 : Tim Truman is grilled with customary mercilessness by Gary Groth about the art and business of comics; Jack Jackson's review of "Blueberry"; an interview with Bernie Mireault; Caribbean comics; and a sketchbook by Dan Clowes!
#152: Art vs. commerce! Todd McFarlane takes on Gary Groth in a no-holds-barred interview. Then Chris Claremont speaks up for the first time since his dismissal from Marvel. Alan Moore and others also weigh in. The cover: Gary Groth's decapitated head!
#272: Interviews with political cartoonists Steve Bell & Jeff Danziger; part 2 of Gary Groth's interview with Jerry Robinson; John Stanley's Thirteen presented by Seth; reviews of Epileptic, Promethea, Embroideries; and much more!
• List:Publishers Weekly's Calvin Reid and Heidi MacDonald run down some "Graphic Novels as Gifts" suggestions, including Norman Pettingill: Backwoods Humorist ("A wooden cover introduces the amazing outsider art of Pettingill, who crafted detailed postcards of wildlife and rustic humor") and A Drunken Dream and Other Stories by Moto Hagio ("Haunting stories of longing, memory, and love from the legendary manga-ka who changed the face of Japanese comics").
• Review: "When experienced animators turn to creating comics or illustrating children’s books, I usually find the results successful and quite satisfying. That’s certainly the case with animator Mitch Schauer (Angry Beavers) and his first graphic novel, RIP M.D. (from Fantagraphics). [...] RIP M.D. would make an amazing 2D animated feature — if Hollywood were still making those. For now, graphic novels such as this are a great outlet for ambitious creators with ample imaginations. Check it out." – Jerry Beck, Cartoon Brew
• Review: "Temperance is a fascinating comic. Malkasian gives us an odd, fairy-tale-esque world where we must accept unreal things so that she can make her points. [...] Malkasian does a fine job of grounding the tale of Blessedbowl in a real-world concern while still making sure it’s fantastical enough so a sentient wooden doll doesn’t seem too out of place. Malkasian’s art is tremendous, as well. [...] Temperance is a fascinating book to read, and while it’s not difficult to figure out, it does raise some important questions about society and what people do to live in one. Malkasian has a lot on her mind, and it’s impressive that she manages to get her real-world concerns into this fable without becoming preachy. [...] It’s a very thoughtful comic, and I encourage you to check it out." – Greg Burgas, Comic Book Resources
• Interview:Robot 6's Tim O'Shea talks to Jason about Werewolves of Montpellier and other topics: "I’ve done boy meets girl and one of them dies in the end several times, so yes, I was a bit afraid of starting to repeat myself. But I think Werewolvesis sufficiently different. It’s a platonic relationship between the two characters for one thing, and none of them dies in the end."
• Interview: At About.com: Manga, Deb Aoki presents a transcription of Moto Hagio's panel appearances at Comic-Con (with translator Matt Thorn) and conducts her own Q&A with the creator of A Drunken Dream and Other Stories: "Well, when I was a child, I used to read manga and cry myself. I had similar reactions watching movies and reading comics. Basically, I'm just expressing my own feelings like that. So it was with my own parents, and for a lot of people of that generation, who said that manga is just for small children, it's very simplistic. But from my point of view, manga is just one medium like movies and novels; it can be just as deep and just as moving."
• Interview:io9's Cyriaque Lamar, who brilliantly sums up Prison Pit: Book 2 as "not unlike Masters of the Universe...if Masters of the Universe was a hentai that starred Gwar," talks to its creator Johnny Ryan: "I wanted to do a book about monster-men beating the shit out of each other. That's my main idea, that's all it's about. There's no real subtext to it. It's about the fighting."
• Interview: Thomas Papadimitropoulos of Comicdom catches up with Bill Griffith on the latest Zippy the Pinhead developments (the intro is in Greek but the interview is presented in English): "I keep trying to surprise myself with the daily Zippy strip. Zippy’s 'discovery' of his hometown, 'Dingburg,' where everyone is a pinhead like him, has taken the strip in a new direction for the last few years. It’s still a lot of fun for me to explore all the different pinhead personalities in Dingburg."
• Interview: At Marvel.com, Sean T. Collins talks to Frank Santoro about his match-made-in-heaven Silver Surfer story for Marvel's Strange Tales II: "I thought of this as my try-out for Marvel. I didn't take this as a chance to do a funny mini comic kinda thing. This was my shot! Was I ever gonna get another one? I'm gonna try to knock it out of the park! That was my thinking."
• Interview: At Pikaland, Melanie Maddison has an extensive chat with Lilli Carré: "My book The Lagoon, which is very mood-driven, took me about 3 years to finish, because I had a lot of starts and stops when working on it. This was partially due to still being in school and working at that time, but also because it was hard to always be in the right mindset to work on such a moody piece and figure out the trajectory of the story."
• Plug: "The inimitable Drew Friedman has a new hardcover book out of his incredible celebrity portraits and caricatures drawn over the last 15 years... Our pals at Fantagraphics published the handsome hardcover, titled Too Soon?: Famous/Infamous Faces 1995-2010." – David Pescovitz, Boing Boing
• Plug: "A new Love and Rockets is out. It apparently contains one of the best Jaime Hernandez stories ever, which makes me shiver with excitement. In celebration, I photographed and uploaded my current favorite Jamie Hernandez story ever 'Penny Century.'" – Will Hines [Ed. note: Reproducing so much of the story is a little borderline, but what the hey.]
• Analysis:Love & Maggie continue their series of detailed, annotated rundowns of their Top 10 Issues of The Comics Journal with the third part of their examination of issue #71
• Review: "This is too much of an event to ignore: Fantagraphics, Seattle’s eclectic and prolific comics publisher,... is publishing its first volume of manga — comics that may be Japan’s most popular and influential art form. [...] A Drunken Dream and Other Stories is a four-decade anthology of graphic short stories by Moto Hagio, the 'founding mother' and premiere creator of shojo manga... Does Hagio’s work justify the hype? Her visual storytelling and graphic invention, by turns fluid, crisp, and stately, certainly do. ...Moto’s other later [stories] do indeed raise manga to literature." – Eric Scigliano, Seattle Met
• Review: "...[F]ew comics fans should have difficulty getting into A Drunken Dream and Other Stories... The stories in A Drunken Dream range from weird, powerful allegories... to dreamy tales of love and loss... But the best pieces here focus on memories of childhood, of playmates treated cruelly or parents and children misunderstanding each other. [...] Few stories in the entire history of the medium have been more overwhelming than 'Hanshin: Half-God,' a tale of conjoined twins — one haggard, one gorgeous — and their spiteful, symbiotic relationship. It’s a potent metaphor rendered with the intensity of an EC comic. [Grade] A-" – The A.V. Club
• Review: "Blake Bell’s Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko set the recent standard for how to put together a coffee-table book about a legendary comics artist, and Bell takes on another innovator of the medium with Fire & Water: Bill Everett, the Sub-Mariner, and the Birth of Marvel Comics... Because Everett didn’t have as long or as consistent a career as Ditko, Bell doesn’t subject Everett’s work to the keen analysis he brought to Strange and Stranger. But he makes up for the diminished insight with page after page of Everett’s vivid, varied work, showing how it all emanated from a man who was a lot like his most famous creation: a destructive antihero, always a little angry at the puny humans around him. [Grade] B" – The A.V. Club
• Review: "...The Complete Peanuts, Vol. 14: 1977 - 1978... shows just how much Schulz was all over the map during that time. [...] This is still a worthwhile volume of Complete Peanuts, though; it has a charming introduction by Alec Baldwin, the usual top-quality production of the whole Fantagraphics reprint library, and some fun story arcs..." – The A.V. Club
• Review: "Only a brain incubated in the warm, nourishing goo of Looney Tunes and vintage Disney cartoons could have produced Sammy the Mouse. [...] As always, Sally’s use of silent panels and dynamic perspectives guide readers’ eyes toward nightmarish horizons and grotesque situations... A grimy, metaphysical malaise drips from every line of Sally’s lush yet unwholesome artwork, especially when he’s plundering the iconography of innocence and youth in the service of disorienting discomfort. [Grade] A-" – The A.V. Club
• Review: At What Things Do, Jordan Crane writes "In the new issue of Love and Rockets (New Stories, no.3), Jaime has a story called Browntown. It just might be the best thing he’s ever done. In fact, I’d go so far as to say, it just might be the best comic I’ve ever read. Its construction is durable yet intricate, a bunch of simple parts working together flawlessly. It’s put together like a watch."
• Review:Guttersnipe's Shawn Conner on the "Counterculture Comix" exhibit at Bumbershoot last weekend, with photos by Robyn Hanson: "Curated by Larry Reid of Fantagraphics Books, it was an eye-popping display, even if you were familiar, as I was, with most of the work..."
• Review: "From the start, Cathy Malkasian's turbulent fantasy Temperance reels you in... It is not hard to spot allegories in this to today’s war on terror, and to the Cold War, in Temperance‘s portrait of siege mentality and the exaggeration of external threats. ... No Shrek or Toy Story, Temperance confounds fairy-tale expectations with a disturbing, resonant parable about propaganda, memories and other lies." – Paul Gravett, The Times Literary Supplement
• Review: "First of all, I have to say how much I enjoy the format. Fantagraphics has done a fine job with this book, with a striking cover, sturdy spine, and essentially giving me everything I want in my comic books in terms of collected treatment. ... Jason’s simple, elegant artwork... allows any reader to dive right in. ... He’s a master of pacing out a gag, and he appreciates the fun of genre entertainment while still acknowledging the absurdity of it all. If I had to sum up Jason’s comics in one word, that word would be silly. They’re funny, and absurd, tinged with sadness and loneliness, outrageously goofy, slapstick, human and just plain pretty to look at. But mostly, they’re delightfully, delightfully silly. It’s a treat to enjoy a comic like Almost Silent." – Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama
• Review: "Prison Pit is fucking awesome and you really need to read it. It’s a kids book, in the sense that it very likely was something Johnny Ryan created when he was 12 years old, assuming the man was sniffing a lot of glue and simultaneously watching Cannibal Holocaust and WWF wrestling as a pre-teen. ... Grade: A" – Chad Derdowski, Mania
• Review: "Prison Pit 2 is mental, obscene, and grotesque... But the book is also pretty astonishing and at least several parts awesome... I'm dazzled by the bloody chutzpah and dirty bravado of Ryan's fight comic, the sheer devotion he shows to violence for violence's sake, thoroughly removed from any hollow 'redeeming values' or 'character development.' ...[T]o anyone wondering if Prison Pit 2 really delivers all the weird, filthy violence it promises, the answer is a resounding yes." – Jason Michelitch, Comics Alliance
• Review: "I read Megan Kelso's Artichoke Tales almost in a single sitting, which is probably a good way to do it. ... This book deals with some standard themes — strong women and intellectual, impractical men, the impulse that leads to war, technology vs. rural simplicity — but none is treated in a standard way. Kelso definitely has a point of view, but she doesn't insult the reader's intelligence, and there's plenty of nuance; she's telling a story, not making a point. Also, it's beautiful just to look at." – Bridgid Alverson, Robot 6
• Review: "Honestly, I’m still not sure how I ultimately feel about Artichoke Tales. I was put off by the book’s downbeat, resigned demeanor, yet at the same time impressed by Kelso’s ability to handle such a multi-layered story so effectively. Perhaps my feelings toward the book can be best summed up by the same word that one would use to describe both the political and personal relationships found in the book, and the real-life relationships she no doubt hoped to evoke: complicated." – Chris Mautner, The Comics Journal
• Interview:Robot 6's Tim O'Shea talks to Megan Kelso about Artichoke Tales: "The artichoke people started as a casual doodle. I think I was riffing on The Jolly Green Giant's sidekick, Sprout. So I just started drawing these people whenever I was on the telephone, or just playing around in my sketchbook. The more I drew them, the more ideas I had about their world, and I just slowly started to build a story about them. This was the first time since starting to make comics, that I generated a story from a drawing rather than from an idea, or from something I'd written. It was excitng to me because it seemed more like 'pure comics' to me, coming from a drawing."
• Review: "Birdland is a rare venture into the world of folly and fetish by award winning Gilbert Hernandez. ... [L]ocate a copy of Birdland yourself and enjoy and marvel at the bewildering release of limbs, torsos and groins in a madcap sexual adventure. The term 'graphic novel' will never mean the same again!" – partikal7
• Plug: "Rip M.D. is a creepy, fun-filled all-ages adventure saga... [Mitch] Schauer told ICv2 that the inspiration for Rip M.D. was all those horror and monster movies he saw as a child — movies that made him care more about the fate of the colorful monsters and fiends than the B movies' human characters who always seemed to triumph in the end. Rip M.D. is the logical emotional outgrowth of those accumulated cinematic disappointments, the story of a boy who is able to help the horror and monster movie characters that he loves the most." – ICv2
• Analysis: At Techland, Douglas Wolk looks at The Troublemakers by Gilbert Hernandez as an example of the successful use of a "widescreen" panel layout: "Aside from its title page, the entire thing is laid out as four identically shaped wide horizontal panels on each page, and the movie-screen shape is formally appropriate — the book is supposedly a kind of comics translation of a (nonexistent) B-movie. The Troublemakers is brutally effective as cartooning, though: Hernandez has designed it so that something's happening horizontally in almost every panel, and there's usually a different kind of motion from each panel to the next."
• Analysis:Love & Maggie continue their series of detailed, annotated rundowns of their Top 10 Issues of The Comics Journal with the first part of their examination of issue #71
• Commentary:The Hooded Utilitarian's critical roundtable on Popeye continues with Andrew Farago's look at the character's various multimedia incarnations