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
The Comics Journal is about to take two major steps forward in its evolution. First, after 33 years and several incarnations, TCJ is answering the peoples’ prayers and upping the Web content on tcj.com. Next, the print publication will be consolidated around two expanded semi-annual editions, each customized to fit its content.
The new, full-service tcj.com will deliver everything readers love — in-depth interviews, smart columns, sharp criticism, real journalism — on a daily basis. And not only will readers get the traditional Comics Journal content faster, but they will also be able to access features beyond the reach of print magazines: videos, slide shows, audio files, original-art galleries and an army of both new and established Journal-caliber bloggers filtering the comics world through their unique perspectives. In short, it is the dawning of a Comics Journal that knows no bounds.
Focusing on what print does best, the Comics Journal magazine will be more beautiful than ever, an elegant combination of interviews, articles, and objet d'art. Uniquely sized and formatted, evocatively visual and tactile, each issue will be an event. Readers will get their first look at the direction The Comics Journal will be moving in with issue #300.
Coming in November 2009: issue 300 of The Comics Journal and a comprehensive new website!
Found on YouTube, a TV commercial for Excedrin pain reliever circa 1970 using an animated series of drawings by Burne Hogarth, cartoon classicist and great Comics Journal interview subject (as evidenced in The Comics Journal Library Vol. 5: Classic Comics Illustrators). Gary Groth, who passed this along, says "This is very fucking weird... I wish I'd known about this so I could've asked him about it."
Holy smokes, there's no shortage of Online Commentary & Diversions today:
• Review: "...Prison Pit... is nothing less than a continuous, no-holds barred, violent assault on the eyes. It is literally one god damned, bloody fight scene after another... The book's genius lies in Ryan's sheer nerve and imagination in setting up these battles; he constantly ups the ante in the most bizarre and inventive ways possible. ... Ryan's love of body functions goes into full gonzo mode here. ...you've got a book where body horror extends far beyond the repulsive into the truly sublime and inspired. ... Despite the gore, or perhaps, because of it, Prison Pit is a fantastic, accomplished work." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "Page after page [of The Squirrel Machine] features one of the brothers traversing through some odd, off-kilter landscape, either out in the woods, or, more often, in their home. Between the floorboards and walls seem to exist an endless array of paths and rooms, each cluttered with an endless array of junk, machines and the occasional disturbing, inexplicable oddity. The end result resembles more of an old-style adventure video game than a comic. It's Myst, directed by David Cronenberg." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6 (same link as above)
• Review: "Perhaps what makes West Coast Blues so captivating is how well it highlights the similarities between film and comics, while simultaneously showcasing its own unique ability as a graphic novel to capture the noir aesthetic through word and image. ... Not unlike many noir films, West Coast Blues is replete with car chases, hit-men, drinking, guns, and the occasional salacious scene. All of this is set in Tardi’s straightforward drawing style which is a good fit for the almost matter-of-fact, unsentimental manner in which violence, sex, and life in general are met with during the course of the book." – Sara Cole, PopMatters
• Review: "Most comic strips today, especially those that are humor strips, often avoid topical subjects. Schulz embraced the topics of the era. They may date the strip, but it never leaves them outdated. ... Schulz was also not afraid to carry on-going storylines for several days or in some cases, even a couple of weeks. ... [The Complete Peanuts 1973-1974 ] also features all the favorite subjects like Linus’ annual wait for the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown’s trip to Summer camp, and Sally’s letters to Santa Claus. This is why Peanuts is the greatest strip ever!" – Tim Janson, Newsarama
• Review: "Jason seems to delight in building firm plots, only to swiftly tug them out of sync. The resulting offbeat dynamic is punctuated with deadpan verbal, narrative and graphic punch lines, which pin the stories down at the same time that they suggest grander meanings. 'Where am I?' asks a prisoner. 'I think I'll do some gardening,' says a murdered man. 'Which way?' a son asks his father in 'You Are Here' — the heartrending emotional core of the collection [Low Moon] — as they search for his mother on a barren planet. Each line and frame could mean nothing or could mean everything in this quiet, gripping book." – Becky Ferreira, The L Magazine
• Interview: Jason speaks frankly about Low Moon with Becky Ferreira of The L Magazine (different link than above): "Low Moon, the story, wasn't long enough for a book of its own, so I had to include some other stories to fill it out. They were just ideas for shorter stories I had lying around. There wasn't meant to be any thematic unity. Death, I guess, is a repeating theme. People die a lot."
• Interview: Tommy Hill of the Columbia Daily Spectator talks to The Comics Journal assistant editor Kristy Valenti about comics criticism and The Importance of Comics: "I teach my interns that nobody cares about them and their feelings and their dog when they were 8; while their experience and perspective is valuable, it’s just a jumping off point to get at bigger things."
• Plug: "You Are There...: More beautiful Jacques Tardi, a seminal work in comics for adults in the French-language market and a first-paragraph mention work for both Tardi and writer Jean-Claude Forest." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
• Plug: "[You Are There] is a strange, wordy, spicy satire, seeing a man struggle to live on the walls surrounding land stolen from him; maybe it's best to see for yourself." - Joe McCulloch, Jog - The Blog (read the rest of his blurb for some interesting background info on the book)
• Reviews: "Locas ll collects a huge amount of comics featuring a more mature Maggie, finding and losing romance with people like Ray (one part Chandler victim, another part mod hobo), 'Frogmouth' (painfully sexy but achingly annoying), and reunions with Hopey and others in a strange relational ballet set in SW America. It’s a weird, flat plain of bizarre sex and twisted circumstance that would be the first collection of comics I would recommend for any adult wanting to get a handle on the aesthetics of the art form since it became culturally relevant to do so.... Meanwhile, Fantagraphics has also just put out a new issue of the Comics Journal #299, which has an incredible narrative by lawyer-outsider art-underground advocate Bob Levin... Levin is the writer of several books on the struggle of comics and the counter-culture and transgressive fringes, and because of him #299 of TCJ is THE book about comic art to buy this year.... Mome... is the current multi-artist series that has critics in the comics world and outside of it regularly amped.... The last few issues of Mome have really hit a hot-run of quality, and though some stories are more straightforward and others are expressionistic, all the art is always sweet." - Chris Estey, KEXP
• Review: "Comics journalism is mostly an oxymoron, but The Comics Journal, on the eve of its 300th issue, is a scholarly, intellectual publication.... [F]or intelligent discussion of current and past graphic storytelling and its creators (the current issue features an incredible story of an ahead-of-its-time genre-spanning anthology from the seventies that was never published), this is indeed an oasis of comics journalism." - Richard Pachter, The Miami Herald
• Review: "...[A]wesome to behold.... When life and love, of a sort, finally do reassert themselves at [The Squirrel Machine]'s end, it's horrifying and drawn in a fashion that makes it look less like a natural thing and more like a terrible apparition, or a special effect." - Sean T. Collins
Today's Online Commentary & Diversions is a potpourri:
• Guide: Alex Carr of Amazon's Omnivoracious blog provides a fourth opinion (after ours, the A.V. Club's, and Comic Book Resources') on How to Read Love and Rockets, offering these opinions on new L&R collections: "...pick up the recent Locas II: Maggie, Hopey, & Ray and Luba collections. These round up all the stories from Volume Two's respective creators and make for a superb reading experience.... [W]hat keeps me returning to Jaime's stories [is] the affectionate realism in contrast with disparate narratives, characters, and tones. Not to mention his unmatched artwork. And it's all here in the oversized Locas II.... Gilbert's ability to weave the most implausible and bawdy moments (a busty, lisping therapist named Fritz who conceals a gun-play fetish?) into affectionate fiction is matched only by his frank, playful pencils [in Luba]."
• Review: "It’s all classic Hernandez material, but this volume’s key element that really makes the book sing louder than ever is the amount of focus placed upon Ray Dominguez.... Some of the richest material Jaime has ever produced focuses on Ray’s pursuit of Vivian, a former stripper and wannabe actress that leaves nothing but pain and suffering in her wake.... There’s so much good stuff in Locas II, though, that I could talk about it until my fingers bleed.... Locas stands alone. I highly recommend you read it and see why." - Marc Mason, Comics Waiting Room
• Interview: At The Daily Cross Hatch , part 2 of Brian Heater's Q&A with Hans Rickheit: "I guess it’s sort of a digestive process of the brain where you have the end product on paper and the end product sometimes resembles fecal matter."
• Plugs/Oddity: Jog runs down a bunch of our new books arriving in comic shops tomorrow; also, the issue of The Comics Journal with his favorite ad in it is still available if you want to see it with your own eyes
Some major comics writing out there over the holiday weekend making for an extra-beefy (and late) Online Commentary & Diversions update:
•Review/Profile: "Sure I'd read [Hal] Foster before, but I'd never found a way in. Fortunately, Fantagraphics recently released Prince Valiant Vol. 1: 1937-38, and I was able to absorb the material in a wholly new way.... I found this first book completely engrossing. Prince Valiant opens up a world that I wanted to stay in -- a wide-eyed early 20th century approach to fantasy with a now-vanished sincerity and wholesomeness. It's an all too rare pleasure in comics." - Dan Nadel, Comics Comics
• Review: "Medieval swordplay and adventure have never been as glorious as in Foster's Sunday-only comic strip. Although much reprinted (including an earlier version from the same publisher), this edition has been reproduced from pristine printer's proofs to give the gorgeous artwork its crispest version ever.... Foster's script is literate and full of vivid characterizations, like the headstrong but cunning Val and carefree Sir Gawain. But nothing surpasses his artwork—rich with details of armor, weapons and dress, the story comes to life with a palpable sense of magic and danger. Each drawing is a flawless illustration, perfectly composed; even a battle of 20 men comes alive in a tiny panel, with every action clearly delineated. Prince Valiant is one of the best-drawn comics ever, and this new edition does ample justice to its achievement." - Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
• Review: "Underneath the screaming and plagues, the giddy joy that [Basil Wolverton] seems to take in his art radiates off the page, just like it does in his secular work.... His creatures from sci-fi and horror, his fascination with grotesque bodily exaggeration, his devout Christian faith -- here it all comes together into an operatic and apocalyptic peak.... The Wolverton Bible might seem like a paradox to its religious audience and its alt-comics fans -- even if Wolverton himself never saw the contradiction." - Martyn Pedler, Bookslut
• Review: "As an historical object, sure, great. I think it should be in print. Kurtzman was a very important figure in comics, and the art and design of the pieces here are of an exceedingly high quality. I'm glad I can see more examples of Jaffee's, Elder's and Davis' work." Otherwise, Chris Allen gives up on Humbug
• Review: Joe McCulloch of Jog - The Blog has a major review of Tardi & Manchette's West Coast Blues -- I've read through it three times and it's too complex for a simple pull quote
• History/preview/profile/analysis: "The 300th issue of The Comics Journal is soon to hit the stands, and the magazine everyone in comics loves to hate rattles on, chugging and sputtering and picking up disreputable beardy guys like a Toonerville Trolley of spite.... In some Inglourious Basterds-like alternate history, the 1990s ended with the twisted faces of Kim Thompson and Gary Groth hovering, laughing maniacally, over the charred and bullet-riddled corpse of Wizard magazine." - Shaenon K. Garrity, comiXology
• Analysis: du9 presents a new translation by Derik Badman of a 2006 piece by David Turgeon on Poison River by Gilbert Hernandez: "What first strikes the reader about this work is its narrative density. It isn’t uncommon for a single page to show as many places, times, and situations as there are panels." (Via Journalista)
• Interview: Jason Thibault of Optimum Wound talks to Tim Lane as part of their "Masters of Ink" series: "You do what seems the impossible and most absurd: you learn to breathe underwater, and revel in it. Get drunk on the water in your lungs. Cultivate a functional level of positive insanity. And develop tough skin. Stick with it if only because your reasons are inexplicable."
• Interview: The Daily Cross Hatch wraps up presenting Brian Heater's chat with Jordan Crane: "I was in Portugal and I saw a really tiny kid with a really giant cat. He looked exactly like the kid in The Clouds Above. The kid was so small that the cat was the same size as him — it’s not a big cat, but next to him, he was huge. And then I just kind of went from there."
• Plug: At Super I.T.C.H., Steven Johnston takes note of Humbug ("much of it is prime satire from the creators of MAD!") and The Wolverton Bible ("particularly including some genuinely horrific scenes from the Book of Revelations").