• Review: "[Pim & Francie]'s spine calls its contents 'artifacts and bone fragments,' as if they're what's left for a forensic scientist to identify after a brutal murderer has had his way with them; Columbia obsessively returns to images of 'bloody bloody killers.' ... Many of the pieces are just one or two drawings, as if they've been reduced to the moment when an idyllic piece of entertainment goes hideously awry. But they're also showcases for Columbia's self-frustrating mastery: his absolute command of the idiom of lush, old-fashioned cartooning, and the unshakable eeriness of his visions of horror." – Publishers Weekly
• Review: "With [Pim & Francie], Al Columbia has created not only one of the more unsettling works of horror in the medium of comics, but it also happens to be one of the greatest myth-making objects... Whether Columbia planned more complete stories for any of the efforts collected here is an interesting question, but for my money he has instead come up with dozens of nightmarish scenarios that have a greater cumulative effect by skipping set-ups or endings. The ending, one suspects, is always going to be a variation of horrific death and dismemberment." – Christopher Allen, Comic Book Galaxy
A spectacular anniversary issue featuring intergenerational dialogues between the cream of the cartooning biz: Alt wiz Kevin Huizenga and reigning Maus king Art Spiegelman; indy comics publisher/cartoonist/musician Zak Sally and Love and Rockets co-creator Jaime Hernandez; Bottomless Belly Button auteur Dash Shaw and Asterios Polyp elder auteur David Mazzucchelli; inflammatory muckraker Ted Rall and editorial cartoonist Matt Bors; super-popular Zits! cartoonist Jim Borgman and newly syndicated Keith “Knight Life” Knight; Martin Luther King chronicler Ho Che Anderson and American Flagg! creator Howard Chaykin; cartoonist/Kramer's Ergot helmer Sammy Harkham and Eurocomics great/L'Association co-founder Jean-Christophe Menu; superhero neo-mythologizer Frank Quitely and Watchmen artist Dave Gibbons; award-winning Fun Home cartoonist Alison Bechdel and Slow Storm wunderkind Danica Novgorodoff; mainstream writing powerhouses Denny O'Neil and Matt Fraction; and Usagi Yojimbo creator Stan Sakai and cartoonist/educator Chris Schweizer. Plus reviews of Acme Novelty Library #19 and Asterios Polyp, the usual columns and features, and Noah Van Sciver penetrates the Fantagraphics ivory tower for a hilarious cartoon interview with TCJ honcho Gary Groth.
Now available for preview and pre-order: the momentous 300th isssue of The Comics Journal, our biggest issue ever, with an unprecedented collection of "intergenerational dialogues" between some of the best and brightest of the comics and cartooning world. It's a lineup that truly must be seen to be believed — which is why we're showing you right here, with a teaser of each and every conversation! View a photo & video slideshow preview of the book embedded below. Click here if it is not visible, and/or to view it larger in a new window (recommended so you can read them). This issue is scheduled to be in stock and ready to ship sometime later this month and in stores approximately 4 weeks after that (subject to change).
And here's an extra bonus: better late than never, a preview slideshow of the current issue of the Journal, #299 (with Bob Levin's incredible history of The Someday Funnies):
Your Online Commentary & Diversions-style goodies for today:
• Review: "...[F]or fans of off-beat crime..., I give you Jacques Tardi’s no-shit brilliant adaptation of Jean-Patrick Manchette’s West Coast Blues. ... [W]hat starts out as something straight out of a Hitchcock classic like North by Northwest soon escalates into something more savage, more profound, and utterly wonderful... It succeeds brilliantly in good old-fashioned crime thrills, for sure. The violence is brutal, the story exciting and surprising, and the characters are brilliantly rendered. But then there’s that extra little layer, those subtle themes, those strange details, the lyrical narration passages — let’s just stop and cut to the fucking chase: you should just pick this shit up and be floored. This is about as good as comics get, dear readers." – BSCreview
• Review: "The rape of the innocent. The callousness of the machine. The girth of the profiteers. The threat of the bomb. The hollowness of the victories. [Craig] Yoe has collected more than 220 of those anti-war cartoons in [The Great Anti-War Cartoons,] a book of indelible images that remind us those confrontations aren't what they used to be." – Steve Duin, The Oregonian
• Plug: "[Zak] Sally's one of those artists who can convey a sense of dread or horror out of seeming thin air, and he's really been on the periphery for far too long now. Hopefully [Like a Dog] will thrust him into the limelight." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Interview: At Marvel.com, Sean T. Collins talks to Paul Hornschemeier about his Strange Tales contribution: "I think this story is far more cerebral than the typical mainstream comics, for better or worse. But it will be brightly colored, so hopefully that will get everyone though the awful philosophical ranting I'm about to unleash. Get ready for more shots from my boredom gun." (Paul offers a couple of corrections at his blog)
• Interview: Lauren McKinley of [^]LAND talks to Fantagraphics art director Jacob Covey: "I'd say my style is heavily influenced by where I first learned how to design — making photocopied black and white flyers for rock shows. I feel like that, far more than anything else, taught me most of what I've learned about how to make type and image work."
• Analysis: More commentary on the future of The Comics Journal, this time from CBR's Augie De Blieck Jr.
• Review: "Reproducing unfinished roughs, penciled-in and scribbled-out dialogue, half-inked panels, torn-up and taped-together pages, even cropping what look like finished comics so that you can't see the whole thing, Columbia and his partners in the production of this book, Paul Baresh and Adam Grano, have produced a fractured masterpiece, a glimpse of the forbidden, an objet d'art noir. ... The horror of Columbia's sickly-cute Pim & Francie vignettes--a zombie story, a serial-killer story, a witch-in-the-woods story, a haunted-forest story, a trio of chase sequences--is extraordinarily effective. ... [T]hese scary stories and disturbing images are all so gorgeously awful that they appear to have corrupted the book itself... — an inherently horrific object. Bravo." – Sean T. Collins
• Review: "...[I]n these pages [of The Troublemakers] lies a challenging, meticulously crafted story of grifters in the middle of a con. Not surprisingly, [Gilbert] Hernandez populates his story with some thoroughly grounded and intriguing figures, but what’s fascinating about the plot is how it criss-crossed over on itself so that not only do the characters remain unaware of who’s conning who but so does the reader. The plot is an intricately woven web of lies and truths, and it’s peppered, of course, with Hernandez’s trademark touch of raw sexuality. Fans of such crime comics as Criminal and 100 Bullets would be well advised to give this graphic novel a chance; they won’t be disappointed. ... [Rating] 9/10" – Don MacPherson, Eye on Comics [Ed. note: I get a big "attack site" warning at that link, so click at your own risk]
• Review: "...[W]ith their crashing planes, erupting volcanoes, boil-stricken sufferers, and monstrous whirlwinds[,] Wolverton’s literalist depictions of Revelation are powerful, shocking, and above all grotesquely beautiful. ... Though Wolverton’s approach to [the Old Testament] stories was somewhat more matter-of-fact than his apocalyptic panoramas, there is still a passion for the bizarre evident in the Bible Story illustrations. ... Wolverton’s Bible illustrations sit on the border between sacred and profane, and that unique placement is what gives them such power." – Gabriel Mckee, Religion Dispatches (hat tip: Kevin Church)
• Review: "...'The Hasty Smear of My Smile'..., which ran as a backup feature in the final issue of Peter Bagge’s Hate (#30) , is a mini-masterpiece. It’s a capsule version of [Alan] Moore’s considerable skill, the epitome of everything that makes him fascinating as a writer." – Marc Sobel, Comic Book Galaxy
• Interview: At Hypergeek, The Comics Journal editor Mike Dean answers Edward Kaye's questions about the changes to his TCJ subscription
• Opinion: Future Comics Journal blogger Noah Berlatsky of The Hooded Utilitarian offers a critical counterpoint to Jeet Heer's previous comments on the Journal
Kristy Valenti recently purged duplicate copies of coveted back issues from The Comics Journal archive, now available in limited quantities at Fantagraphics Bookstore. Among the many gems on sale at cover price: The endearingly fannish #37 from December 1977 featuring the breathless headline Star Wars: The Movie! The Comic! The Photos! Issue #53's infamous interview with sci-fi writer Harlan Ellison, and a revealing interview with mid-career Daniel Clowes in issue #235.
This treasure trove of news, reviews, and essential interviews includes everything from Lynda Barry, Berke Breathed, Carl Barks, and the Bros to Crumb, Kirby, Kurtzman, Miller, Moore and more! Look for these and other new offerings at Al Columbia's PIM & FRANCIE book signing this Saturday.
Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery is located at 1201 S. Vale St. only minutes south of downtown Seattle. Open daily 11:30 to 8:00 PM, Sunday until 5:00 PM. Phone 206.658.0110. See you all soon.
The blogosphere never rests — it's Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "Boyreau laments how digital phased out analog when it comes to our movie viewing; has the Internet done the same with his book [Portable Grindhouse: The Lost Art of the VHS Box] commemorating the losing side of that battle? I say no. It's not just because of the tremendous job Boyreau and Covey did with the cover reproductions, or the lovely, solid paper stock, or the cutesy slipcase. It's because Boyreau is right: the aura of the object is irreplaceable. A book collection of VHS box art contains preserves what was special about them in a way a Flickr gallery just can't. Next time you have a trashy movie marathon, pass this around between movies--unlike your laptop, you won't even need to worry that much about spilling beer on it." – Sean T. Collins
In a must-read interview at Comic Book Resources, Kiel Phegley talks to the entire editorial staff of The Comics Journal (Mike Dean, Kristy Valenti and el jefe Gary Groth) about the future print and online iterations of the magazine as outlined in our announcement earlier this week. It's quite the scoop, and juicy details and revelations abound!
If you are a current subscriber, details about the transition from your old subscription to your new one have been sent to you in the mail. We've made sure that, in every case, current subscribers will come out ahead on the deal.
Going forward, all new subscriptions will begin with the first issue of our new expanded semi-annual edition, no. 301, due Summer/Fall 2010, until the issue is released; after that, they will begin with the issue following the currently-available issue (e.g., when no. 301 is released, subscriptions will begin with no. 302, and so on). This means that if you purchase a subscription now and you don't want to miss issue no. 300, you will have to purchase that issue separately when it becomes available. We apologize for this slight, unavoidable hiccup in our subscription schedule.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.
• List: At Robot 6, Sean T. Collins's top 6 "deeply creepy 'alt-horror' cartoonists" includes Renee French ("her frequently deformed (more like unformed) characters and hazy, dreamlike, soft-focus pencils recall [David] Lynch's unnerving debut Eraserhead with its dust-mote cinematography and mewling infant thing"), Hans Rickheit ("It just so happens that his 'normal' is grotesque and harrowing to the rest of us"), Al Columbia ("It's as though a team of expert [animation] craftsmen became trapped in their office sometime during the Depression and were forgotten about for decades, reduced to inbreeding, feeding on their own dead, and making human sacrifices to the mimeograph machine, and when the authorities finally stumbled across their charnel-house lair, this stuff is what they were working on in the darkness") and Josh Simmons ("one of a very few comics creators still capable of shocking... doing serious, dangerous work")
• Review: "West Coast Blues is a brilliant story, and Manchette was a phenomenal writer of the modern world, putting others to shame at times. Just that simple, really. This is a book that can’t be reduced to familiar genre markers." – Brian Lindenmuth, BSCreview
• Review: "Bruce Paley tells his tale with no frills and no holds barred. ... The book is at times quite funny and other times terribly depressing, but it is never dull and I found it hard to put down. Carol Swain’s artwork fits the mood of the book well. It’s fairly simple but it hits all the right notes and evokes the right emotions. I was completely unfamiliar with her work prior to this book, but I’ll keep an eye out for her in the future. ... I found this book to be incredibly compelling in its own laid back sort of way. ... There’s no shortage of books out there about the 1960’s and ‘70s, but this one felt a lot more personal than most. Paley’s words mingled with Swain’s artwork so perfectly that you almost felt like the guy was sitting across the table from you, sharing a beer or two and swapping stories. If you’re interested in that era or you just like a good autobiography, I’d give Giraffes in my Hair: A Rock 'n' Roll Life a shot." – Chad Derdowski, Mania.com