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Category >> The Comics Journal

Daily OCD: 11/4/09
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Zak SallyThe Comics JournalreviewsPeanutsPaul HornschemeierKovey KornerKevin HuizengaJacques TardiEllen Forney 4 Nov 2009 3:07 PM

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  

• Review: At Comics Comics, Tim Hodler posts scans of Eddie Campbell's review of A.B. Frost's Stuff and Nonsense from The Comics Journal #260

• 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.

• Things to see: Ellen Forney tackles the "pictureless comics" challenge with her usual aplomb

• Things to see: Leon Beyond and the temples of doom, by Kevin Huizenga

• Things to see: Amazing Peanuts shelf porn at Robot 6 — but no Complete Peanuts to be seen??

Daily OCD: 11/3/09
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under The Comics JournalreviewsPeter BaggePaul HornschemeierJohnny Ryanjeffrey brownGilbert HernandezAl Columbia 3 Nov 2009 1:31 PM

Today's Online Commentary & Diversions:

• 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

• Things to see: Johnny Ryan draws beatniks doing their beatnik thing

• Things to see: The Beat has exclusive peeks at stories by Jeffrey Brown and Paul Hornschemeier for Marvel's Strange Tales

The Comics Journal crypt looted! Rare back issues appear at Fantagraphics Bookstore.
Written by Larry Reid | Filed under The Comics JournalFantagraphics Bookstore 2 Nov 2009 3:40 PM

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.

Daily OCD: 11/2/09
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Zak SallyThe Comics JournalPortable GrindhousePaul HornschemeierMonte SchulzJohnny RyanJacques BoyreauDash ShawAbstract Comics 2 Nov 2009 2:31 PM

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

• Analysis: More thoughts on The Comics Journal's new direction, from Jeet Heer (who coins the word "Grothian" — I like it) at Comics Comics and Noel Murray at The A.V. Club

• Interview: If you missed the lively Q&A during Monte Schulz's live Twitter chat with LitChat, you can download the transcript from the LitChat website

• Education: Robyn Chapman of the Center for Cartoon Studies reports from Dash Shaw's recent lecture at the school

• Plug: Librarie Drawn & Quarterly gives a nice recommendation to Abstract Comics

• Plug: At Comics Alliance, Douglas Wolk highlights Like a Dog by Zak Sally among the week's new releases, as does Matthew J. Brady

• Things to see: In a match made in heaven, Johnny Ryan drew the cover of the DVD of The Found Footage Festival Vol. 4

• Things to see: Enjoy some as-yet unused monstery t-shirt designs by Paul Hornschemeier

• Things to see: Mike Sterling crosses the streams

CBR on TCJ
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under The Comics Journal 30 Oct 2009 9:45 PM
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!
The Comics Journal - new subscription details
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under The Comics Journalnew releases 29 Oct 2009 4:50 PM

In light of our announcement about the newly revamped, semi-annual version of The Comics Journal debuting next year, we have new subscription options available for 6-issue (3 year) and 3-issue (18 month) subscriptions. Also, we are ceasing to offer online-only subscriptions.

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.

Daily OCD: 10/29/09
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under The Comics JournalreviewsRenee FrenchJosh SimmonsJacques TardiHans RickheitCarol SwainAl Columbia 29 Oct 2009 3:15 PM

Today's Online Commentary & Diversions:

• 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

• Opinion: Reactions to our announcement about the evolution of The Comics Journal from The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon (with Q&A with Gary Groth), Comic Book Galaxy's Alan David Doane, Johnny Bacardi, The Beat's Heidi MacDonald, and CBR's Steven Grant

The Comics Journal's Cup Runneth Over
Written by Jacq Cohen | Filed under The Comics Journal 28 Oct 2009 2:54 PM

The Comics Journal No. 300

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!

Burne Hogarth's TV commercial
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under The Comics JournalGary GrothBurne Hogarth 20 Oct 2009 8:57 PM

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."

 

Daily OCD: 10/13/09
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under The Comics JournalreviewsPeanutsMegan KelsoJohnny RyanJasonJacques TardiHans RickheitGil KaneDaniel Clowescomics industryCharles M Schulz 13 Oct 2009 3:40 PM

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."

• Plugs: In his Washington Post review of David Small's Stitches, Michael Sims places Daniel Clowes's Ghost World and Megan Kelso's The Squirrel Mother on "the list of powerful works of art in this versatile medium"

• 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)

• Events: At his blog, Hans Rickheit reports back from his Squirrel Machine book tour

• History: At Bleeding Cool, Warren Ellis examines the place of Gil Kane's Blackmark in comics history