• List: "A new, superb Frank book called Weathercraft came out a few weeks ago, but I treasured Frank as a periodical, and I'd love to sit down with a few hundred issues of it when I'm an old man. ... I think it's healthy for adolescent boys to have access to well-written, well-drawn comics about war, as long as the comics in question [like Blazing Combat] constantly pound home the message that war is futile, stupid and contemptible." – Douglas Wolk, "Ten Comics That Should Run Forever," TIME/Techland
• Review: "If you are in search for fresh ideas or even tried and true ideas presented in a fresh light, this is the book you've been yearning for. Werewolves of Montpellier is one of those true indie gems that make me glad I took a chance reading something outside of the mainstream. ... Werewolves of Montpellier is by far my favorite Indie Book of the Year so far. ... If you're a fan of the Coen Brothers or David Lynch, it's a safe bet that any work by Jason is going to be right up your alley. ...[I]n Werewolves of Montpellier, Jason takes his style of irreverence and perfects it. I guarantee if you take a chance with this book you will not forget it and seek out more Jason. It's one of those stories that sits with you long after page last comes to pass. Hilarious, profound, fun, and meaningful. Werewolves of Montpellier is filled with indie goodness." – Mark L. Miller, Ain't It Cool News
• Review: "Eisner Award winner Kim Deitch has been weaving a complex universe of ghosts, aliens, demons, puppets, spiritual leaders, and complicated animal characters for over 40 years, and in the tradition of Vonnegut, Deitch occasionally places himself in the middle of his own madness. If that sounds a bit meta, that’s only the barest tip of the squirmy, lascivious iceberg that Deitch has planned for you [in The Search for Smilin' Ed]. ... The lines between fiction and fact are so effectively blurred and made bizarre that I still retain a bit of paranoia and doubt about the veracity of any evidence that Smilin’ Ed was ever on TV... The images are so dense that it’s amazing they retain the clarity that they do, but it’s an amazing and unexpected study in the principles of positive and negative space." – Collin David, Graphic Novel Reporter
• Review: "By being both foreboding and accessible, menacing and friendly — and doing so without suffering from sort of comic book schizophrenia, Hensley manages to create something rather unique and deeply rewarding in Wally Gropius. This is a comic that rewards multiple readings and contemplation. It's also one of the best — and funniest — books of the year." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "Speaking of strange, what an oddly delightful little book [Dungeon Quest Book 1] is, a mash-up of Dungeons & Dragons-type adventuring and stoner attitude... To some degree, this book is a distant cousin to Johnny Ryan's Prison Pit. The main difference being that Daly is more concerned with pot jokes than gore. Both though, are part of this seemingly new try to find ways to give the familiar fantasy genre a clever twist. And both are concerned with exploring different ways to portray action and violence in comics. ... Based on the strengths of this introductory volume... I'm willing to go where the adventure leads to." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "Rather than a narrative arc, with ascensions and declines, Artichoke [Tales] feels like a series of expansions. The characters and their world grow to envelop the reader in a singular, charming way." – Paul Constant, The Stranger
• Review: "Without a single word, Woodring tells an enormous tale of redemption and heartbreak. Weathercraft crackles with the power of myth, and it extends far beyond its pages with a life of its own; one could imagine a postapocalyptic culture forming an entire religion based on this one thin book. You've never read anything quite like Weathercraft, but at the same time it feels eerily familiar, like a dream you had last night." – Paul Constant, The Stranger
• Review: "Weathercraftis at once far wilder and more subtle than I could have imagined. The imagery and the surroundings are more hallucinatory, the mixture of cartoon-cute and skittering, undulating grotesquerie more effectively creepy, and the characterizations and themes more layered and nuanced than any version of this book that played out in my head. ... Weathercraft paints small moments of beauty and mystery on a huge canvas of twisted wonder." – Jason Michelitch, Comics Alliance
• Review: "...[Wally] Gropius is more concerned with verbal jazz and abstract gags, all presented in an innocent-looking approximation of the bright, clean style of ’60s Harvey Comics. ... I liked enough of the gags, and Hensley’s overall confidence in putting them over in such a currently declassé comics art style, that I would recommend it." – Christopher Allen, Comic Book Galaxy
• Review: The French edition of Daniel Clowes 's The Death Ray (Eightball #23) was examined on Le Grand Journal on French television network Canal+ last month (YouTube link) — for non-Francophones Kim Thompson summarizes it thusly: "The guy can't stop gushing about the beauty of the drawings, the coloring, the design, the thematic elements of ennui (yes, he actually says 'ennui') and violence 'even against squirrels.'"
• Roundtable: Speaking of our own multilingualist Kim Thompson, he participates in The Comics Journal's roundtable discussion on comics translation
• Review: "Whether you love the swords and sorcery genre, high adventure, romance, or any or all of the above, Hal Foster’s early work on Prince Valiant is well worth reading. ... Fantagraphics has done a remarkable job remastering these strips, which, thanks to the use of original proof sheets and advances in printing technology, are even brighter and crisper than when they were first published 70 years ago. This second volume from Fantagaphics is due to ship in June 2010." – James Henry, Mid-Ohio-Con
• Review: "In form, content and effect, [Muzzlers, Guzzlers and Good Yeggs] is a hell of a book. Coleman's intricate line drawings capture phantasmagorical scenes of horror and pathos, mixing nightmares with satire and surreal portraiture. There a strange and powerful sense of vitality at play, and a feeling of obsession mixed with a furious sort of joy." – Oliver Ho, PopMatters
• Plug:New York magazine places Wally Gropius by Tim Hensley well on the "brilliant" side of their Approval Matrix, says reading it "is like taking acid during a time-machine trip to the sixties."
• Interview:The Daily Cross Hatch's Brian Heater continues his conversation with Gene Deitch: "When it rained, we had to shove the drawings under our coats and run from one room to another. But it was exciting. We really felt we were pioneers, no question about it. These people were very intelligent and were very cultured in art."
• Plug: "Wally Gropius, Tim Hensley’s debut 'graphic novel' (still not comfortable enough with that term to remove the quotes) is my favorite book of the year by a wide margin. What looks like a European reprint of a mid-1960s hybrid of Archie and Richie Rich is upon closer inspection a brilliant, hilarious, deeply complex and wholly original work that rewards a fifteenth reading as much as a first. The story—the adventures of a lovesick teenage millionaire (no relation [I think] to the Bauhaus founder)—is told in language both verbal and visual that feels entirely without precedent, yet the book has a potent, jarring familiarity, as though Hensley has found his way into a profound well of our collective unconscious." – Daniel Clowes at The Daily Beast
• Guide:Robot 6 's Chris Mautner gives an introductory "Comics College" overview to the work of Harvey Kurtzman
• Review: "In reviewing Jaime Hernandez's Penny Century, I could point to the frenetic pace of many of the stories; the cute, odd, and endearing sort of strangeness spawned in this lightly magical universe; or even the beautiful art, which is truly the mark of this master cartoonist. But, no, I am going to hype the very first story, 'Whoa Nellie,' beyond anything else in this fantastic volume. ... Such a wonderful, and grounded, story is a nice start-off point for the still compelling, yet far stranger and sexier, tales that follow. Soup to nuts, this is a great book." – Jeremy Nisen, Under the Radar
• Reviews: The new episode of Easy Rider, the radio show for "rock, punk rock, country, power pop, garage and comics" from Radio PFM out of Arras in northern France, features High Soft Lisp by Gilbert Hernandez and Penny Century by Jaime Hernandez among their Comics of the Week
• Review: "R. Kikuo Johnson's debut graphic novel, Night Fisher, is a compelling yet unsentimental coming of age story. It’s a portrait of awkward adolescence on the cusp of adulthood illustrated with the darker, more realistic tones of teenage life. Night Fisher is filled with bold artwork, psychological intricacies, and mature depictions of immature actions. ... R. Kikuo Johnson has proven himself as a masterful storyteller in his first graphic novel." – Steve Ponzo, Multiversity Comics (via ¡Journalista!)
• Interview: The Los Angeles Times' Noelene Clark questions Tim Hensley about Wally Gropius: "I did grow up in sort of a show business family, so I was continually in an environment of going places where a lot of people were famous, and I was sort of tagging along. I had the idea of somebody who is continually mistaken for someone really famous, but actually has nothing to do with that."
• Interview:The Daily Cross Hatch's Brian Heater continues his conversation with Gene Deitch: "Terr’ble Thompson was a style I adapted for that comics strip. I wanted something that looked like a comic strip, was a little ahead—something that had the UPA influence. ... Of course, if you’ve seen my other book, The Cat on a Hot Tin Groove, my jazz cartoons, that’s a completely different style. I’m used to working in all different styles. I don’t want people to say, 'this is in Gene Deitch’s style.' I want to do everything."
It couldn't be a finer time to be a Fantagraphics fan as we have three major book releases scheduled to land in comic shops this week (with scuttlebutt that some shops may have received them last week). Read on for blogospheric descriptions and reaction:
104-page black & white 7" x 9.75" hardcover • $19.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-340-8
"Anecdotal as this is, I’ve heard absolutely nothing but good things about this new Jim Woodring project, a 104-page return to his signature Frank character, although the story itself focuses on damned, slovenly humanoid swine thingy Manhog as he taps into strange cosmic powers. As it was before, expect Woodring’s excellent command of physical comedy (and his story pacing, which always seems to denote improvisation but never dawdles or rambles) to segue from the pliable bodies of cartoon figures into something mythic and transformative about mysteries lurking just behind the atmosphere." – Joe McCulloch, Comics Comics
"The all-new Weathercraft is my book of the week and would be my book for most weeks, frankly." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
64-page full-color 10" x 12.5" hardcover • $18.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-355-2
"...Tim Hensley... mix[es] and sampl[es] elements in a self-evident way for a gleeful result, though this artist takes it so far that individual character poses seem exclusively isolated from long-forgotten humor comics and pressed into the service of a patchwork ideal of a ‘teenage’ comic (teenage-as-a-genre), possibly going down as the most striking of the original MOME serials once the goats are culled from the sheep. Here’s the collected edition, a 10″ x 12.5″ hardcover album, 64 color pages, almost all of them pretty to very funny. Yet it’s oddly difficult to describe Wally Gropius in more specific terms, but know that it’s about a rich boy and a determined girl and their courtship, and how prolix borrowed comic devices can build into something distressing indeed." – Joe McCulloch, Comics Comics
"Tim Hensley’s sly satire of silly ‘60s kids comics is an amazingly accomplished, spot-on imitation of the look and feel of those books, but with a sharper edged and heavier weight. One-part Archie Andrews, two-parts Richie Rich, Wally Gropius isn’t the German architect (although he’s often confused for him), but is rather a teen rock star bazillionaire." – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
114-page 10.5" x 14.75" full-color hardcover • $39.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-161-9
"...an anticipated-by-many contemporary reprint project collecting Roy Crane’s influential Sunday spin-off from the comedic daily strip titled Wash Tubbs back when it started in 1924, but had since itself become an adventure-toned showcase for the Captain Easy character. Edited by Rick Norwood, with a vintage (1974) foreword by Charles Schulz and a new introduction by Jeet Heer..." – Joe McCulloch, Comics Comics
"The best adventure comic everywhere; Crane's clean, thought-out action scenes are a tonic for all those confused superhero fight scenes out there today." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
As always, complete details and extensive previews of each book can be found at their respective links. Bug your local comic shop to make sure they have them in stock before smashing open your piggy bank.
This coming weekend, May 22-23, 2010, the Silver Lake Jubilee in Los Angeles is hosting "Jubilee Comix," a comics showcase featuring live readings at El Cid both mornings beginning at 10am featuring Tom Neely, Robert Goodin, Jesse Moynihan, Ted Stearn, David King and Malachi Ward. Afterward, all of them, plusTim Hensley and Olga Volozova, will be signing in the Literary Village. And Esther Pearl Watson is just one of many comics and small-press artists exhibiting in the "We Come in Peace" collaborative "zine fort" installation. Sounds like a can't-miss!