• Review: "One of the greatest comic strips of all time and a peak in visual splendor and breath-taking adventure, the story of Prince Valiant's 30+ year odyssey is getting a marvelous presentation in Fantagraphics' series of books, which just reached Volume 4.... What might surprise modern readers is the relative complexity of Valiant, who grows and matures subtly over the years. The strip is violent, sexy, serious, droll and above all eye-catching.... The pleasure of how solidly and carefully [these volumes] are made is part of the pleasure of reading them. You feel like a little kid as you prop the giant volume up and literally dive into the tale that fills your vision, much as kids and adults did more than 70 years ago. It's a worthy presentation for one of the most important and entertaining works in comic strip history." – Michael Giltz, The Huffington Post
• Interview:Vice's Liz Armstrong talks with Ron Regé Jr. about his upcoming book The Cartoon Utopia: "I'm not interested in making a bunch of storyboards or writing a script. Comics are the visual representation of language. So comics are the most ancient and the most vital and most important art form that humanity has ever known. It's also the oldest. Cave paintings, having the form of an image that represents an idea, is what comics are. I wrote an essay called, 'Fuck Other Forms of Art.'"
• Interview (Audio): Speaking of Mike Dawson-hosted podcasts, John Kerschbaum sits in on the new episode of The Ink Panthers with Dawson and co-host Alex Robinson
• Culture: Jeet Heer reports on the Iowa Comics Conference at The Comics Journal, featuring the Hernandez Brothers, Joe Sacco, Gary Groth and others. On the new issue of Love and Rockets: New Stories: "Everyone, of course, has been raving about Jaime’s story in this issue, which like the magnificent 'Browntown' in L&R #3 is one of best comics ever done. I’ll freely confess that at the end of the new issue when I saw how Jaime had tied together the fates of Hopey, Maggie, and Ray I started crying like a baby. ...Gilbert’s recent comics have the protean energy and relentless will to reinvention that rivals the Crumb of Weirdo and Hup."
• Commentary:Robot 6's Sean T. Collins spotlights Heer's article and adds his own thoughts: "The only thing more striking than the fact that Jaime set this career-defining hurdle for himself is that he freaking cleared it.... It's worth noting that in his contribution to New Stories #4, Gilbert takes Fritz to a place of potential finality not unlike the one that his brother Jaime's leading players occupy at the end of 'The Love Bunglers.' Yeah, it’s really quite a comic."
• Analysis: At Robot 6, Matt Seneca examines page 89, by Jaime Hernandez, from Love and Rockets: New Stories #4: "It’s a wonderful meeting of form and content: a completely unified page on the subject of unification, a single unit made up of eight perfectly chosen, gorgeously cartooned panels, each one complete in itself as a composed single drawings. This is comics at the highest level, with nothing wasted and everything on the page done as well as it possibly could be."
• Plug: Kim Thompson points out that ActuaBD "referred to our Gil Jordan edition as 'très beau,' which is nice."
• Review: "Another brilliant adaptation of a Jean-Patrick Manchette crime novel by Jacques Tardi. If you liked West Coast Blues, well, you absolutely will love [Like a Sniper Lining Up His Shot]. If you are a crime fan and haven’t read that work yet, you really must as for whatever reason, it is something that tends to get overlooked. Yes, Tardi’s art style is completely unique and can take a little adjusting to if you’re only used to conventional American / UK styles, but give it a go because he brings gritty crime to brutal, realistic life — and indeed equally cold, hard unpleasant death — like few others can." – Jonathan Rigby, Page 45
• Review: "There be monsters; monsters of man’s own making. [The Hidden] is Sala’s second book in colour, rich in red and orange, but it’s the first, I believe, to dispense with all hope and humour — apart from the man with the Marty Feldman eyes. He’s taken the Edward out of Gorey and the tongue from his cheek, replacing it there with shovels, hatchets and stakes!" – Stephen L. Holland, Page 45
• Review: "After a rocky start, the regularly updated, online version of The Comics Journalhas become a much more vital outlet for the serious discussion of comics, primarily thanks to the stewardship of online editors Dan Nadel and Tim Hodler. In its new format, the print Comics Journalis a fine companion to that ongoing effort. With the burden of remaining 'current' lifted by the website, the print Journalis free to explore important works with a depth and seriousness rarely found online." – Patrick Markfort, Articulate Nerd
• Plug: "I’ve only had the brick for two weeks, and I’ve barely made it through one-fourth of it, happily so. For over 30 years, The Comics Journalhas been a comics respite from hype and fluff. It keeps the rest of in check and on our toes. I’m a better comics reader because of it (and a reluctantly patient fan)." – Alex Carr, Omnivoracious (Amazon.com)
• Commentary: Sean T. Collins re-posts Comic Book Resources' video interview with Jaime Hernandez on that site's Robot 6 blog, adding his own commentary: "Ask anyone who’s reading the series in its book-formatted New Stories incarnation — including this autumn’s #4, which picks up where last year’s massively acclaimed 'Browntown'/'The Love Bunglers' storyline left off — and they’ll tell you: Jaime’s making some of the best work of his career, some 30 years after L&R made its debut."
• Conflict of Interest: Our own Eric Buckler spotlights Mome Vol. 22 in his weekly "Indie Comics Digest" for The Snipe
Yesterday's and today's Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "Sala consistently introduces red-cheeked, innocent characters and then puts them through the meat-grinder, and in The Hidden he plays with mad science. ...Sala’s novel features plenty of 'tell,' because if it’s one thing mad scientists enjoy, it’s expository dialogue. There are gorgeous single-panel pages filled with huge dialogue balloons, and it’s to the author and illustrator’s credit that it’s always a hoot; Sala is a professional when it comes to tongue-in-cheek visuals (the friendly looking characters with spilled intestines) and storytelling.... Its ending is... abrupt..., but it leaves ample room for a welcome continuation. The lushly colored package is vintage Fantagraphics, of course." – Alex Carr, Omnivoracious (Amazon.com)
• Review: "Relaunching in a book-sized format, Comics Journal #301 came out from Fantagraphics this summer, and has already gone through a second printing. The magazine is dense, with over three hundred pages, containing enough essays, interviews, reviews, and art pages to easily fill 2-4 of the old issues.... Where else in comics journalism are you going to find a viewpoint of comics encompassing enough to put so many different realms of the artform under the same microscope and give it all due consideration? The drastic shift in format indicates a willingness of Fantagraphics to take risks with its flagship publication." – Greg Baldino, Bleeding Cool
• Review: "...[T]his gentle, inviting series about two transgendered elementary school students... has truly captured my attention.... Wandering Son feels at times more like a series of character sketches that all connect together than a narrative-driven book, but it’s a structure that makes me that much more intrigued... Takako’s art is beautiful here, delicate line drawings that fit well with her story.... Last but not least, props need to go to Fantagraphics for a great physical design of the book.... This isn’t quite like anything else on the market right now, and I’m thrilled to see Fantagraphics exposing it to a wider audience." – Greg McElhatton, Read About Comics
• Interview: The normally Love and Rockets-focused Love & Maggie blog steps out of their usual purview to hit up Gary Groth for more information about our forthcoming series Jack Jackson's American History (starting next year with Los Tejanos/Lost Cause) — if you're at all interested in these books, definitely check this out
• Lore: "Before resuming I should say this: Drug taking, by myself and others, really peaks in this chapter. It isn’t something I’m proud of or a thing I endorse. But it is the way it all happened." So begins the ninth installment of Kim Deitch's epic memoir-in-music "Mad About Music: My Life in Records" at TCJ.com
• Review: "After far too long a hiatus the new incarnation of The Comics Journal is available and as inspired as ever. The Journal is the paramount English-language publication dedicated to the Art of graphic narrative, covering comics, cartooning and related fields domestic and global; interviewing creators, disseminating the facts and even advertising the best and most challenging product. They’ve done it competently, passionately and proudly for decades. You won’t always agree with the opinions expressed — editorial or from the many and various insiders and cognoscenti who have been featured — but you’d be an idiot to ignore or dismiss them if you care at all about the industry or the medium.... This is a superb uber-magazine for comics lovers: it won’t ever tell you where and when to buy but it will certainly make you wonder why you do or don’t." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Plug: "...I heartily recommend Dave McKean’s new 'erotic graphic novel' Celluloid. Mixing paint, photography, ink, and charcoal — and eschewing dialogue altogether — McKean creates a comic book version of one of Radley Metzger’s erotic art films, in which lustful impulses lead otherwise civilized people on a dark, surreal journey." – Noel Murray, in a thought-provoking essay on erotica in comics and beyond at The A.V. Club
• List: At his High-Low blog Rob Clough posts his belated Top 50 Books of 2010 list, with Megan Kelso's Artichoke Tales at #1, 4 of our books in the top 5, 5 in the top 10, 8 in the top 20, and 14 overall in the top 50 — it's a long but worthwhile read
• Review: "Calling Congress of the Animals recommended reading is a bit misleading. It’s definitely recommended, but it doesn’t technically involve reading. The entire book doesn’t feature a single word bubble. The only words are on the book jacket. What this is is a story told entirely through pictures — delightful pictures at that.... This was really an entertaining book. It was visually different from anything I’ve ever seen in a comic, the story was unique, and some parts were laugh out loud funny..." – Corey Pung, Panel Discussions (via Americaware)
• Review: "...Skin Deep by Charles Burns... [is a] true masterpiece in which Burns returns to choose the mechanisms and the language of grade-B horror films, crime fiction, pulp, the aesthetics of the 50's and Robert Crumb's comics to make a harsh social criticism.... Stories in which Burns continues to explore the darkest corners of the human condition while keeping us on edge vignette to vignette." – Jesús Jiménez, Radio y Televisión Española (translated from Spanish)
• Review: "...[T]he adventures of a group of twenty-something New York residents, like Friends but with ethnic variation and far more realistic apartments, and, you know, actual problems. The characters of Beg the Question are surrounded by ugliness and idiocy in one of the most complicated cities in the world, yet they are decent human beings who support each other. It’s not supposed to be autobiographical, but you can tell that Fingerman has lived through many of the situations and knows the characters well." – Grant Buist, The Name of This Cartoon Is Brunswick
• Commentary: "So I just finished reading Fantagraphics’ The Complete Peanuts 1981-1982, and... the vast majority of this book was new to me, having not read previous reprintings of the strips from this period (as opposed to the near-memorization of the reprint books from the late ’70s and earlier). One of the great new features of this particular reprint series, aside from, y’know, the whole completeness of the strips reprints and all, is the index in each volume." – Mike Sterling, Mike Sterling's Progressive Ruin
• Plug: "Walt Kelly’s Pogo is one of the greatest comic strips I’ve ever read. It’s simply brilliant; quaint and sweet on the surface but deeper readings reveals layers of very smart political and social satire. And as you can clearly see, Walt Kelly’s artwork is magnificent.... Fantagraphics are presenting the entire strip, including the beautiful full colour Sunday strips for the very first time, in a series of 12 hardcover volumes that reprint approximately 2 years worth of material at a time. I guarantee that if you get Volume 1, you’ll be signing up for the remaining 11." – Richard Cowdry, The Forbidden Planet International Blog Log
This week's comic shop shipment is slated to include the following new titles. Read on to see what comics-blog commentators and web-savvy comic shops are saying about them (more to be added as they appear), check out our previews at the links, and contact your local shop to confirm availability.
248-page black & white 7.5" x 9.25" softcover • $18.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-449-8
"Yes, I hear people say, Jaime Hernandez, I keep hearing about how great he is and everything, but there are like a million books, how do I know which are the good ones? Here's a tip: try this paperback. It includes, I believe, the contents of Ghost of Hoppers and The Education of Hopey Glass, both of which are stone cold incredible; not sure if it includes 'La Maggie La Loca' or not [Nope – Ed.], but for 19 bucks you are not going to go too wrong. (It's true that you'll be showing up for the Maggie-and-Hopey sequence of stories rather late. You'll pick it up in no time, though.)" – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
"Splurgewise, I’m unsure whether I’ve actually read the stories in the Esperanza collection of Jaime Hernandez’ Love & Rockets stories (Fantagraphics, $18.99) – I tend to lose track of the material between the first L&R run and the new one, for some reason – but if I haven’t, then that, for sure." – Graeme McMillan, Robot 6
"Two of Jaime's most popular Love & Rockets characters find themselves, as so many of us do these days, somewhat older, slightly more settled and still wrestling with personal demons." – Benn Ray (Atomic Books), Largehearted Boy
"...of course any Hernandez release deserves a mention, this time out Jaime Hernandez gets the spotlight as Esperanza (Fantagraphics) reprints material after the Penny Century collection." – Dave's Comics
216-page duotone 5.75" x 7.75" softcover • $19.99 ISBN: 978-1-56097-959-3
"...[I]f it’s softcore smut you’re looking for, there’s the Pin-Up Art of Humorama, which features gag cartoons by folks like Dave Berg and Brad 'Marmaduke' Anderson about buxom secretaries being chased around their desks by portly, lustful employers and whatnot." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
128-page full-color 9.5" x 13" softcover • $28.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-399-6
"This is the kind of book that people are going to be saying 'oh cool!' about when they discover it on your bookshelf a couple of decades from now: a collection of pre-1940 ads (compiled by Rick Marschall and Warren Bernard) that incorporated cartoons, and particularly cartoons by significant cartoonists. Did you know that Noel Sickles and Milton Caniff collaborated on a series of 'Mr. Coffee-Nerves' strips advertising Postum? Or that Dr. Seuss drew ads for insecticide?" – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
"...[M]y love of all things retro is going to lead me to Drawing Power: A Compendium of Cartoon Advertising from Fantagraphics..." – Brigid Alverson, Robot 6
"An informative historical look at the cartoonists and characters that have been used, and how they've been used, for advertising and the products they advertised." – Benn Ray (Atomic Books), Largehearted Boy
640-page black & white/color 6.75" x 8.5" softcover • $30.00 ISBN: 978-1-60699-291-3
"I’ve already got a copy, but let me recommend plunking down your entire $30 on the 301st issue of The Comics Journal. This brick of a … magazine? book? journal? features some great essays and interviews, most notably Tim Kreider’s lengthy analysis of Cerebus, and an extensive roundtable on R. Crumb’s Book of Genesis, including a thoughtful interview with Crumb hisself." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"After a year of publishing material on their website, The Comics Journal #301 (Fantagraphics) weighs in at an enormous 600+ pages with discussions of Robert Crumb's Book of Genesis, Jim Woodring's sketches, Al Jaffee and Michael Kupperman in dialogue and you're barely half way through." – Dave's Comics
"CONFLICT OF INTEREST RESERVOIR: Well, it’s been a few weeks now since it hit some East Coast stores, but Diamond is now announcing the imminent and full arrival of the very essence of the Conflict of Interest Reservoir, The Comics Journal #301, now at 640 pages and featuring chats with Robert Crumb and Joe Sacco, Al Jaffee & Michael Kupperman in conversation, perspectives on Cerebus and The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb, and multifarious species of collegiate smart-arsery AS YOU LIKE IT; $30.00. Also be on the lookout for Esperanza, another thick Love and Rockets collection taking the Jaime material up to the start of the present (vol. 3) series; $18.99. Alex Chun has his latest girlie cartooning showcase, The Pin-Up Art of Humorama, promising spicy drawings by Marmaduke creator Brad Anderson, among other suspects; $19.99. And Rick Marschall & Warren Bernard present Drawing Power: A Compendium of Cartoon Advertising 1870s-1940s, archiving Mr. Coffee Nerves and other early comics-based adverts for generations to come; $28.99."
• Review: "...[T]he [Comics] Journal returns in a new bricklike bookshelf format (seriously, this thing has like 600 pages!), anchored by a massive Robert Crumb interview, and a whole freakin’ lot of really strong criticism. I most especially liked the Cerebus retrospective by Tim Krieder.... Great great great read!" – Brian Hibbs, The Savage Critics
• Review: "The artists that create worlds that start with the alphabet — these are the ones who have been getting in my head lately, motivating me to sort through my response to their art and settle my own ideas on alphabets. Mascots by Ray Fenwick is a great place to start. The book announces itself boldly — it is small, but its hot pink cloth cover is difficult to ignore. The title breaks across a few lines, so it is less a word than a jumble of letters — a mascot for the word 'Mascot,' so to speak. The book is appropriately titled: from the very beginning, everything announces itself as something else – forms are always changing, names are invented 'mercifully' (to use one of the narrators’ parlance) for things that are unnamable, faces that smile when the book is held in one direction are revealed as faces that frown when the book is flipped. The book conveys a sense of being stuck just outside of where everything makes sense and fits together." – Jordan Hurder, Chance Press
• Opinion: I don't think Jon Carroll of the San Francisco Chronicle knew about our upcoming series of Pogo collections when he wrote his reminiscences about the strip — "Pogo had it all: love, fear, friendship, ambivalence, pails of water, morality, plus a love of high-flown language and, not incidentally, wonderful draftsmanship" — and bemoaned the scarcity and high prices of past collections (via The Daily Cartoonist)
• List: To the surprise of few, The Hooded Utilitarian's International Best Comics Poll tops out with Charles M. Schulz's Peanuts in the #1 spot. HU editor Noah Berlatsky writes, "If you like charming, Peanuts is charming, and if you like dark, it’s dark, but it isn’t just charming, or just dark, or even just charming and dark. There are countless ways to like Peanuts, which is no doubt why it — deservedly, inevitably — tops this poll."
• Review: "The squeaky-voiced character from the animated shorts was especially bold in his daily newspaper comic strip [Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse]. Its memorable continuities were largely the responsibility of one man: Floyd Gottfredson. ...Gottfredson and his collaborators crafted two-fisted tales that remain entertaining, thrilling and funny up to 80 years on.... This inaugural issue in a planned Gottfredson library is a handsome hardback, prepared with the same care as Fantagraphics's archive of Charles Schulz's Peanuts." – Owen Heittman, The Australian
• Review: "Sibyl-Anne vs. Ratticus is a wonderful time and read!... The writing and art are grade A for this, and I cannot recommend it enough. It does have a feeling much like Peyo’s Smurfs, but I prefer Macherot’s Sibyl-Anne over it. His story telling is a bit more better put together, and action scenes are more exciting (if one has to compare to something, that is). Plus Sibyl-Anne is just cute.... Sibyl-Anne vs. Ratticus has something every comic lover can enjoy." – Drew McCabe, ComicAttack.net
• Review: "Knowing me, if I wait until I’ve finished all 624 pages of [The Comics Journal #301], I’ll never get around to reviewing it, so I figured I’d just do it in parts. After a solid Introduction by Editor-in-Chief Gary Groth, in which he extols Crumb’s virtues as a cartoonist, and explains the reason Genesis deserved TCJ’s lengthiest critical symposium ever (the reason is that Groth thinks the book deserves it), we get a long and surprisingly warm and easygoing chat between Groth and Crumb. Neither has ever come off this…normal." – Christopher Allen, Trouble with Comics