• Review: "Tim Kreider is a great caricaturist, as his latest collection of cartoons, Twilight of the Assholes, attests. He has a real knack for portraying the unsightly physical traits of modern Americans– the rolls of fat, the paunchy stomachs, the jowls, flabby arms and chinless faces — that make up more of the current populace than we’d care to admit (myself included). Plus, he’s got a nice, razor-sharp wit that really cuts to the absurdity of a particular stance or issue, and he isn’t afraid to get nasty or break a taboo to make his point, which can be refreshing." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "Cleverly constructed, laconically laid out in the classic nine-panel-grid picture structure and rendered in comfortingly mundane style a la Charles Burns, King of the Flies is a landmark in metafictional mystery tales. [...R]eaders will have to wait for the concluding book to discover how this stunning, mesmerising amalgam of Twin Peaks, Desert Palms, Peyton Place, The Omen and Blue Velvet plays out. A stylish and magical portmanteau saga of a community cursed with an excess of human frailty – lust, rage, greed, despair and especially shallow selfishness – this is a story that will surprise, compel, distress and haunt anybody with even half an imagination. Darkly addictive, casually violent and graphically sexual, King of the Flies is 'adults only' and well worth waiting until you’re 18 for." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Review: "This is a story about purpose, inertia, the road blocks we throw up for ourselves and the ways in which we are forced to interact with a demanding and frequently demeaning world. This book feels intimate because unlike his past work, Sammy the Mouse has an immediacy to it that’s quite different in tone from his earlier, more distant (but no less visceral) comics. [...] Sally’s comics have an ugly physical quality to them that I’ve always liked, but the two-color process he uses here pushes the ugly/beautiful tension even further. [...] The care and thought that Sally put into adapting his comic into the Ignatz format shows on every page and makes the story resonate all the more." – Rob Clough, The Comics Journal
• Review: "It’s hard to decide which Ignatz book is the best-looking purely from an aesthetic standpoint, but Leila Marzocchi’s Niger has to be in consideration. It’s another series that’s dominated by two tones (in this case, rust red and a chalky blue) that’s remarkable to behold simply in terms of its mark-making. There’s a lushness to this series, in the way Marzocchi uses a scratchy technique that makes her figures and backgrounds look as though they were less drawn than constructed with dense webs of color. Her figures are fabulously exaggerated, all curves and bulbous noses. Everyone is larger than life, creating a sort of mysterious and slightly dark fairy tale atmosphere for this story. [...] It’s an easy comic to follow and probably the friendliest to non-comics readers in the Ignatz line. While its ideas are original, its familiar feel creates a certain immediate comfort level for the reader as they delve into a strange and beautiful world. It’s as though Niger is a favorite old fairy tale whose memory is just out of reach." – Rob Clough, The Comics Journal
• Review: "Instead of writing about the [Prince Valiant] series as a whole (or at least, those volumes I have read), I decided to do another one-page criticism. After much debate with myself I selected the page... dated December 1, 1940, appearing at the end of volume 2. In some respects this is a typical Hal Foster page, but in many ways it is not, which is partially why I chose it." – Derik Badman, The Panelists
• Plug: "ROY CRANE Mania! Just got my copy of Buz Sawyer: War in the Pacific, this and the Captain Easy volumes are long overdue. Thrilling stuff! Roy Crane is one of the unsung greats! Thrilling, charming, infectious masterful storytelling. Probably in my top five favorite cartoonists. Roy Crane drew some of the most subtly sexy women ever. ...[H]uzzah to Fantagraphics! Okay, I'm insane for Roy Crane. It may look old fashioned at first glance, but trust me, once you dive in you'll eat it up!" – Mike Allred
• Plug: "[Love and Rockets: New Stories #3] was as amazing as folks said it was. No knock against Gilbert, but Jaime murdered it this time around, absolutely killed, fired on all cylinders, drowned it in ink. Jeepers, someone give that man a cartooning medal." – Evan Dorkin
• Plug: "I forgot how much I enjoyed reading Carol Tyler's comics when I was tripping over them in various anthologies in the 80's/90's. I stumbled across this book [Late Bloomer] while cleaning up in the basement where all the comics that don't fit anywhere sleep, and was happy to revisit these pieces, as well as material I hadn't read before. The perils of buying a book and putting it aside for too long. Funny, warm, human, honest, occasionally beautiful/heartbreaking 'life' comics." – Evan Dorkin
• Plug: "I love Roy Crane and I'm super-happy [Captain Easy Vol. 1] is in print. Cartoonists and cartoonist-wonks, take heed, there is some beautiful work to be pored over here. ...Crane = Master." – Evan Dorkin
• Plug: "Regular readers of this blog will be aware of the release of Stigmata (Fantagraphics) just a few weeks ago. Featuring expressionist master Lorenzo Mattotti's swirling, cross-hatched pen line as if the story were recounting the fading memory of a dream about a drunk who one day wakes up marked with stigmata. It's an intense and perfectly balanced story, in hard cover with a wonderful Mattotti painting on the cover and it deserves to be a flagship title for any graphic novel collection." – Dave's Comics
• Interview: At The Comics Journal, Ian Burns talks to Shaun Partridge, writer of the Josh Simmons-drawn Mome serial "The White Rhinoceros" (part 1 of 3): "I think fun is the law. You should really enjoy life and laugh. That’s what comedy’s all about. Which is also alchemical, because you’re taking something that is unpleasant and making jokes about it. You know, Dave Chappelle’s a master alchemist. Larry David’s an alchemist."
Tim Kreider returns to his Baltimore stomping grounds this Friday, Feb. 25, 2011, for a release party for his new book Twilight of the Assholes at Atomic Books. Tim will sign and read from the book starting at 7:00 PM. The Atomic Books events calendar is here.
Tim Kreider signs and reads from his new book Twilight of the Assholes: Cartoons & Essays 2005-2009 at the Strand Bookstore in New York City tomorrow, February 17, 2011 at 7 PM. "In a slideshow, talk and Q&A, he'll wax nostalgic about the endearing atrocities and deadly foibles of the Bush administration and have a fond chuckle over the deadpan haplessness of Obama and the fascist antics of the tea party." More info here.
This week's comic shop shipment is slated to include the following new titles. Read on to see what comics-blog commentators are saying about our releases this week, check out our previews at the links, and contact your local shop to confirm availability.
"Jordan Crane's entry into the 'Last Alt-Comic Standing' sweepstakes is as gorgeous and affecting as past issues, and I can't imagine any fan of those kinds of works not wanting to at least try it out." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"...[F]or me the must-grab item of the week is the fourth issue of Jordan Crane’s always excellent Uptight from Fantagraphics. It’s kind of fascinating to me how Crane has become one of the few indie guys to still be plugging away at the semi-regular pamphlet series, when so many of his peers and direct influences have given up on that format. I’m not sure what, if anything, it means, but he’s cranking out some of the best stuff of his career in these pages, let me tell you." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"The newest issue of Jordan Crane’s Fantagraphics comic book, continuing the serials that started off last issue. A guy tries to cope with a woman he possibly only imagines is cheating on him — ambiguity in the visual presentation, I think — while the kid/animal characters from Crane’s The Clouds Above have an adventure in and out of the cooler at school." – Joe McCulloch, Comics Comics
"We last saw an issue of this one-man anthology series two (gah!) years ago. [...] It doesn’t really matter what Crane does from here on out – he’s already got a lifelong fan in me thanks to The Last Lonely Saturday, that weird little book about an old man going to visit his wife’s grave – so I’ll pretty much recommend everything he does. Uptight #4 looks amazing though... Thirty-six ad-free black and white pages of indie comics excellence to look forward to this Wednesday." – The Gosh! Comics Blog
288-page black & white 8" x 9.5" softcover • $28.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-398-9
"A self-explanatory book of works by Tim Kreider..." – Joe McCulloch, Comics Comics
"Twilight of the Assholes is the latest collection of Tim Kreider’s political cartoons... in which he is even more apocalyptic and deranged than usual. [...] It’s getting a mention here almost purely because of the quote on the press release from the late, great David Foster Wallace (Infinite Jest) who said 'These cartoons are extremely, extremely f*cking good.'" – The Gosh! Comics Blog
Tim Kreider's first cartoon collection, The Pain — When Will It End? was one of the few bastions of sanity throughout the awful aberration in American history known as the Bush Administration. The end of his second volume of political cartoons, Why Do They Kill Me?, saw its author in despair over the 2004 election. In this new volume, Twilight of the Assholes, as reality gets ever bleaker, Kreider's humor becomes increasingly apocalyptic, deranged, and hilarious. He juxtaposes the Biblical Christ with His blonde, flag-draped, machine-gun-toting American incarnation in "Jesus vs. Jeezus," proposes a third political party that represents Americans' real values in "The Sex Party," draws the dead Saddam Hussein as a mischievous invisible imp still causing trouble, and envisions the officials of the Bush administration getting their comeuppance in the grisly fashion of Dick Tracy villains. And he finds two cartoons' worth of "Reasons to Look Forward to the Next Terrorist Attack." Also included is his infamous entry into Iran’s Holocaust cartoon contest, "Silver Linings of the Holocaust."
Kreider mocks not only the evil and hapless Bush but the fecklessness of progressives, the imbecile bigotry of radical Islam, and, most of all, the dumb bovine complacency of the American voter. His art has become even more dense with gags and his writing (most recently featured in The New York Times) has never been more astute and devastating. Twilight of the Assholes is an hysterical chronicle of the end of the Era of Darkness, and, believe it or not, a heartening document of one man’s loss and tentative restoration of faith in democracy.
"Tim Kreider is the funniest man alive." — Jenny Boylan (She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders)
"[Tim Kreider] is to the satirical cartoon what Stanley Kubrick was to cinematic satire." — Mark Crispin Miller (Fooled Again: How the Right Stole the 2004 Election)
"He is funny and crazy and brave enough to proclaim as truths the things the rest of us are too chickenshit to say out loud." — Myla Goldberg (Bee Season)
"These cartoons are extremely, extremely fucking good." – David Foster Wallace
"Kreider's stuff is not all political, but most of what he does packs outrage: at oppressors, bigots, overlords, fools. Not for the squeamish, unless they’re too passive and need a wake-up call." — The New Haven Advocate
• Review: "Surrealism is dangerous. Mostly, when you leave the rails, the result is less glorious freedom and more quick kablooie. It’s an easy method for the lazy writer, but somehow when Ray Fenwick does it, it works. Mascots, his second book, is short on — but not absent — narrative. Its pages are made up of paintings on book covers that are largely text-based... Somehow, they hang together enough to produce a fuzzy but charming impression." – Hillary Brown, Paste
• Review: "...[T]he impressive thing about [Special Exits] is that, despite depressing subject matter, it’s extremely readable and fairly funny. Yes, you’ll think about the horrors of getting old and failing to maintain your independence, not to mention the even scarier prospect of taking care of your own parents. But if Farmer’s book is meant to soothe your fears, it kind of works." – Hillary Brown, Paste
• Review: "The black-and-white Hey, Wait… and Sshhh! are low-key ruminations on grief, loss and aging that bear Jason’s trademark anthropomorphic animals, clean lines and Scandinavian black humor. [...] Jason’s beautiful craftsmanship overcomes The Iron Wagon’s familiar material and, along with the rest of What I Did, foreshadows the excellent work to come later in the decade." – Garrett Martin, Paste
• Review: "There's no doubt in anyone's mind that Roy Crane was a first-class cartoonist, frequently making panels on the newspaper page that were absolutely to die for, stop-and-study moments of the kind that inspire the best students and discourage the worst. There are times when reading these rousing adventures of Navy pilot Buz Sawyer and his support man Roscoe Sweeney that it's hard to believe anything this striking ever appeared on the comics pages..." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
• Review: "A book like this should be must reading for those who want to know how the shojo we know today came to be. A Drunken Dream and Other Stories is not just for lovers of girl's manga, however. It's a book worthy to be read by anyone who likes good comics with a touch of fantasy and a touch of sadness. As with any book by a great creator, the appeal is almost universal... Hopefully, this will be the start of getting Hagio's name on the same pillar as Tezuka, which is clearly where she belongs. If by some chance you haven't read this manga yet, you owe it to yourself to find a copy right away. [...] This is one of those books that is not to be missed. It's destined to be a classic." – Rob McMonigal, Panel Patter
• Review: "...[E]ach page is a single panel, but each of those panels is so attractively detailed and evocative that the storytelling structure never feels rigid. Instead, it comes across as economical and precise while still filled with event and emotion. It’s a quick read, but it’s very satisfying, and it just invites you to revisit the story again. [...] Set to Sea ... is artistically successful on every front, but Weing’s substantial craftsmanship never overwhelms the simple, heartfelt story he’s telling." – David Welsh, The Manga Curmudgeon
• Review: "Destroy All Movies is an addictive, ambitious, behemoth of a book and it’s funny as all hell. There are too many sidesplitting takedowns of bad movies to list in this review, but if you enjoy bad movies (and especially if you enjoy stuff like Mystery Science Theater 3000), you will love this book. [...] Destroy All Movies truly shines as a lengthy love letter to cult cinema, punk pride notwithstanding. [...] You will want to refer to it and reread it over and over. It’s got that much good, not-so-clean, fun packed into its 500-plus pages." – Less Lee Moore, Popshifter
• Reviews (Audio): 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 FUC_ __U, _SS __LE: Blecky Yuckerella Vol. 4 by Johnny Ryan and Bent by Dave Cooper among their Comics of the Week
• Plugs: Chris Mautner of Robot 6 on the newest volumes of Krazy & Ignatz, Popeye & Prince Valiant: "What stands out for me here, other than George Herriman’s usual artistry, is the subtle jokes about race… Considering Herriman’s own ethnic and racial heritage, I find moments like this fascinatingly telling. [...] I’ve gone on and on about my love for Segar’s Thimble Theater… Suffice it to say I think it’s an American classic and earns my heartiest recommendation… I still can’t quite get over just how much fun Hal Foster’s medieval epic is. Far from the dull, staid, storybook slog a first glance would suggest, the strip bursts with life and adventure, and not a little bit of bloodsport."
• Interview: Tom Spurgeon at The Comics Reporter: "It's my hope that the following interview with Tim Kreider comes close to replicating the experience of reading the author's new book, the Fantagraphics-published February offering Twilight of the Assholes. Both are long, both I hope are funny at times nearly all the way through (the book surely is), and both book and interview prove uncompromising in terms of both self-laceration and repeatedly stabbing the country's excesses, shortcomings and hypocrisies right in the face. [...] Kreider is... maybe as skilled a writer as there is out there also working with cartoons, and luckily Twilight of the Assholes includes both the cartoons and mini-essays explaining each one. I find him almost terrifyingly funny, both when I agree with him and when I don't." Kreider: "I think historians are likely look back on those eight years as a last chance squandered, a disastrous passing beyond the point of no return, the moment when America went irreversibly over the edge into terminal decline. Which is great news for me, as my cartoons happen to comprise a document of what it felt like to live through that time."
• List:PopMatters names Four Color Fear to their Best Fiction of 2010 list. David Maine writes: "Four Color Fear is a lovingly accumulated and organized collection of... stories starring ghosts, ghouls, zombies, demons, and monsters of all stripes. [...] Some of the writers and artists are well known names from the era... Others are not as famous, but overall, the consistency of art and story is impressive. Four Color Fear offers some nice bonus features too, which elevate it from being a simple compilation of reprinted stories."
• List: On the Best Non-Fiction of 2010 side, PopMatters lists Destroy All Movies!!! The Complete Guide to Punks on Film. Chris Barsanti writes: "...Zack Carlson and Bryan Connolly’s insanely genius and improbably comprehensive guidebook... include[s] every film even remotely punk ever produced. While authentically underground creations... are given some pride of place..., the authors have a special love for straight-to-VHS exploitation trash of yore, where mohawked gutterpunks (sometimes postapocalyptic) terrorized the citizenry."
• Review: "When a man living a hardscrabble life suddenly exhibits signs of stigmata, his tumultuous journey to find — and accept — redemption is beautifully evoked by Italian screenwriter and novelist Piersanti... and graphic novelist Mattotti... With Mattotti's furious black and white illustrations perfectly reflecting the man's growing inner turmoil, Piersanti's morality tale is haunting yet hopeful." – Publishers Weekly