The first Online Commentary & Diversions post of the year might very well end up being the longest:
• List: Humorist and television personality John Hodgman, asked to name his 5 favorite comics in an open Q&A session on his Tumblr blog, says "Love and Rockets: I don’t like to choose between brothers, but Jaime Hernandez is one of the greatest drawers of human faces and human want on the planet."
• List:Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge: Only a Poor Old Man by Carl Barks is #39 on The A.V. Club 's list of "most anticipated entertainments of 2012": "Only a Poor Old Man will bring Scrooge McDuck, possibly Barks’ greatest creation, into the spotlight. The bespectacled miser will dive around in his money bin and burrow through it like a gopher, and his timeless adventures will get the treatment they deserve."
• List: Tucker Stone, whose Best of 2011 previously appeared at comiXology, presents a slightly modified list for Flavorwire's "10 of the Year's Most Buzzed-About Comic Releases":
"Last year’s Love and Rockets was a huge deal, but this year’s installment is arguably even better.... Comics has yet to provide Love and Rockets with anything approximating 'competition,' but it doesn’t appear that the Hernandez brothers have any reason to be concerned about that quite yet. They’re still way better at this than everybody else on the planet."
"The big thing this year was watching all the great young cartoonists of the early 2000s carving out their places in the pantheon. Huizenga’s a perfect example — he’s been regularly turning out excellent comics for years now, and yet Ganges #4 still reads like a revelation.... It’s a fascinating experience reading these comics, and they’re gorgeous to boot."
"The continuing adventures of Johnny Ryan’s most violent fantasies run amuck, [Prison Pit] is rapidly becoming the comic that I look forward to the way a fat kid looks forward to syrup-encrusted cake. There’s no getting around the hoary old cliche — 'these aren’t for everybody' — so God help you if you can’t figure out a way to enjoy these books."
• List: The prolific Sean T. Collins, after having contributed to CBR's Top 100, runs down his personal 20 Best Comics of 2011 on his Attentiondeficitdisorderly blog AND at Robot 6, withGanges #4 by Kevin Huizenga at #15...
"Huizenga wrings a second great book out of his everyman character’s insomnia. It’s quite simple how, really: He makes comics about things you’d never thought comics could be about, by doing things you never thought comics could do to show you them. Best of all, there’s still the sense that his best work is ahead of him, waiting like dawn in the distance."
"...[T]he payoff... feels like a weight has been lifted from Woodring’s strange world, while the route he takes to get there is illustrated so beautifully it’s almost superhuman. It’s the happy ending he’s spent most of his career earning."
"Religious fundamentalism... has worn a thousand faces in a millennia-long carnevale procession of war and weirdness, and David B. paints portraits of three of its masks with bloody brilliance. Focusing on long-forgotten heresies and treating the most outlandish legends about them as fact, B.’s high-contrast linework sets them all alight with their own incandescent madness."
"I picture Gilbert Hernandez approaching his drawing board these days like Lawrence of Arabia approaching a Turkish convoy: 'NO PRISONERS! NO PRISONERS!' In a year suffused with comics funneling pitch-black darkness through a combination of sex and horror, none were blacker, sexier, or more horrific than this gender-bending exploitation flick from Beto's 'Fritz-verse.'"
"...[L]et's add to the chorus praising Jaime's 'The Love Bunglers' as one of the greatest comics of all time, the point to which one of the greatest comics series of all time has been hurtling toward for thirty years.... You can count the number of cartoonists able to wed style to substance, form to function, this seamlessly on one hand with fingers to spare. A masterpiece."
"The hype and acclaim surrounding Xaime Hernandez’s conclusion to his 'Love Bunglers' saga has been overwhelming, and every ounce of it is deserved. This is simply a phenomenal achievement in comics. A moving, thoughtful story of missed opportunities, loss and eventual reconciliation that provides in many ways a fitting conclusion to all of Xaime’s 'Locas' stories. I’d be hard pressed to think of a better comic that came out this year."
"More than the new Carl Barks collection, more than the return of Pogo, the resurrected, re-appreciated comic strip I found myself falling in love the most with this year was Gottfredson’s plunky, adventure-loving mouse, a scrappier version of Disney’s iconic creation. More to the point, I was completely taken with the stunning packaging and background information Fantagraphics and the books editor put together for this series. It’s new benchmark for reprint projects."
"Three volumes into this grand guginol series and it continues to surprise and delight, this time introducing a new character and suggesting via an end sequence that Ryan has been reading a lot of Fort Thunder comics."
"Incredibly inventive, Schrauwen, like Yokoyama, seems intent on pushing the comics medium into new and interesting directions. But where Yokoyama is concerned mainly with motion and exploration, Schrauwen is concerned mainly with perception and the interior world of the mind. This is great, mind-blowing work."
• List: Also on Robot 6's roundup of best-of lists from its writers, Tim O'Shea ranks Pogo Vol. 1 at #9: "Damn if this was not worth the wait... Volume 1 of the complete syndicated daily strips of Pogo would be enough to put this book on my list. But the fact that Fantagraphics has a foreword by Jimmy Breslin; an introduction by Steve Thompson; a piece on the Pogo Sunday Funnies by Mark Evanier; and Swamp Talk (R.H. Harvey annotations on the strips) is just icing on the cake."
• List: David McKean's Celluloid gets a "See Also" shout-out on Cyriaque Lamar's list of The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Comics of 2011 at io9: "A decidedly adult erotica graphic novel with no dialogue, this is the famed Sandman cover artist going at page after page of a sexy hallucination, whipped up by a magic porno movie projector. Dreamscapes with boners."
"After 'Browntown' in last year’s installment of New Stories, there was a worry that Jaime might have peaked — how on earth was he going to top that story? The achingly beautiful conclusion to 'The Love Bunglers' in this volume was the answer. Pulling together strands from Maggie’s entire 30-year history in two pages was nothing short of stunning, with his art as cooly confident as ever, making it a real emotional sucker punch. Gilbert’s work developing Fritz’s movie back-catalogue is a real mind-bender, too, weaving inter- and meta-textual strands together that lets his characters say so much, while saying so little. It is terrifying how talented these guys are."
"Forget Pogo and Carl Barks — we already knew they were classics — the real reprint revelation of 2011 was good ole' Mickey Mouse.... To read these strips is to rediscover a love for Mickey and marvel at Gottfredson's amazing grasp of storytelling and humour, as well as his flawless artwork. Naturally, with Fantagraphics overseeing the reprints, the design, packaging and presentation is gorgeous — a real worthy successor to their Peanuts series."
• Plug: "I’m a little mortified to admit that Walt Disney's Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes is my first exposure to Carl Barks (after decades of being interested in finally seeing why he’s so revered as a comic creator), but it definitely won’t be my last. Fantagraphics’ first volume of Barks material is a great place to start; a mixture of epic quests, short stories, and gag strips that are all impressively funny and awesome." – Greg McElhatton, Robot 6
• List: On his Domino Books blog, Austin English explains why Joyce Farmer's Special Exits is his favorite comic of 2011: "Farmer's cartooning allows for her characters to act out their illness and struggles in front of the reader. Farmer's drawing of her aging father is something to behold — it's not Farmer saying 'here is what my sick father went through.' Instead we see a drawing age and wither in front of us, and speak to us with both intelligence and dementia. I’ve never seen anything in comics done with such skill — let alone see a graphic novel (often the territory of poorly conceived topical heart wrenchers) speak about tragedy with so much depth and clarity."
• List: Comics writer Vito Delsante declares Love and Rockets: New Stories #4 the Best Single Issue of 2011 on his Best of 2011 blog post: "The Hernandez Brothers, since New Stories 3, have really created the most important mythology in comics since Stan and Jack (and Steve).... Jaime Hernandez should win every single award in comics in 2012."
• List: We rank 4 entries on Renee Lott's Top 10 Comics of 2011 at her Blogwithfeet
• Review: "I've been digging the new Fantagraphics release Jason Conquers America which commemorates ten years of the venerable publisher's relationship with the Norewegian artist.... My favorite story in the collection revolves around a crow who naps in a bed in a field and wakes up obliviously in an entirely new life. (Telling any more would spoil the revelation.) In 23 short wordless panels, Jason creates a powerful and compelling commentary that proves how powerfully expressive comics can be." – Stray Riffs
• Review: "A new comic from the top humorist in comics is always welcome. This issue [of Tales Designed to Thrizzle] is the usual combination of dada and surprisingly tightly-wrapped narrative gags surrounding the sort of cultural detritus mined by Drew Friedman & Mark Newgarden.... 'Quincy, M.E.'... is one of Kupperman's best strips because he keeps adding new layers of plot to an already-ridiculous story.... I still miss the sheer density of detail in Kupperman's older work that made reading it almost exhausting, but the avalanche of ideas remains intact, as does his ability to elicit laughs." – Rob Clough, High-Low
• Review: "...Prison Pit... [is] a marriage of pro wrestling, manga, bromance and filth.... Johnny Ryan has an almost Kirbyesque level of character design, but with obviously more genitalia, and it can at times be a joy just to see what is going to come on the next page.... Johnny Ryan is a cartoonist at the top of his game right now and he may just be the closest thing the comic world has to marmite." – Taylor Pithers, The Weekly Crisis
• Interview:The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon talks with Todd DePastino, biographer of Bill Mauldin and editor of our Willie & Joe books. Spurgeon says Willie & Joe: Back Home is "one of my three favorite comics-related books from 2011, and, I think, one of the year's best." From DePastino: "When I look at these cartoons, I think of literary critic Dominic LaCapra's claim that some books are good to think about and a very few are good to think with. Mauldin's postwar cartoons are good to think with. They not only provide a window to the times, like, say, good photographs or reporting might, but they also raise fundamental questions and issues that are with us still."
• Review: "These comics are beautiful. Each single-panel comic is blown up to a full page, so that Mauldin’s artistry can truly (and easily) be admired without squinting. The sentiments expressed are astonishing and bravely progressive for the time.... I’d never thought or heard about the poor reception combat vets received after WWII. (I mistakenly thought that only happened to our soldiers after the Vietnam War.) I wish I knew what they experienced. I’ll settle for giving [Willie & Joe: Back Home] to the next WWII vet I meet and hope that it sparks a conversation." – Gene Ambaum, The Unshelved Book Club
If you happened to miss the delightful and informative slideshow talk the wonderful Trina Robbins gave about the great Nell Brinkley at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery back on October 8 (for instance, if you were at the Art Spiegelman talk that happened at the same time, or if you don't live nearby), never fear, our good friend and The Comics Journal contributor Gavin Lees captured it on video — watch above or over at his website Graphic Eye.
I am personally so over-the-moon-excited about this weekend's event, and frankly, you should be, too! We are thrilled to present artist & women's comix "herstorian" Trina Robbins at the Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery this Saturday, October 8!
The exhibit runs through April 15th at the Yeshiva University Museum in the Center for Jewish History [ 15 West 16th Street ] and features Fantagraphics artists Miss Lasko-Gross, Aline Kominsky-Crumb, Trina Robbins, and Diane Noomin, alongside a ton of other amazing female artists, like Vanessa Davis, Bernice Eisenstein, Sarah Glidden, Miriam Katin, Miriam Libicki, Corinne Pearlman, Sarah Lightman, Sarah Lazarovic, Racheli Rottner, Sharon Rudahl, Laurie Sandell, Ariel Schrag, Lauren Weinstein and Ilana Zeffren.
And on Monday, October 24th, you can join Miss Lasko-Gross and Ariel Schrag, Miriam Katin, and Lauren Weinstein for the panel "Close & Personal: Jewish Women Artists & their Graphic Diaries." Robin Cembalest, executive editor of ARTnews, will moderate. There will be a viewing at 6:00 PM, with the panel starting at 6:30 PM. Admission is free, with advance reservation, so get to it!
For over thirty years Nell Brinkley's beautiful girls pirouetted, waltzed, vamped and shimmied their way through the pages of William Randolph Hearst's newspapers, captivating the American public with their innocent sexuality. Accomplished cartoonist and women's comix "herstorian" Trina Robbins examines the work of this unjustly forgotten artist in The Brinkley Girls: The Best of Nell Brinkley's Cartoons from 1913 - 1940. Robbins will present the work of this remarkable illustrator with an exhibition, slide talk and book signing at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery on Saturday, October 8 from 6:00 to 9:00 PM.
A brash Nell Brinkley arrived in New York in 1907 at the tender age of 22. Within a year, her work began to appear newspapers illustrating her high society gossip column. Her cartoon serials popularized the bobbed hairstyle and flapper fashions of the era, while reflecting period art nouveau and deco aesthetics. Such was her influence that the Ziegfeld Follies costumed their dancers as "Brinkley Girls." Pop music heralded her creations and a line of hair products carried her name. As the war years approached, her comic strip serials evolved from naive romantic themes like "Billy and Betty and Their Love Through the Ages" to presenting women in less traditional roles like "Heroines of Today." Championing the cause of better pay and conditions for workingwomen, Brinkley became an early archetype of the contemporary American woman.
Trina Robbins has long championed the work of women cartoonists. Her early underground work appeared in the groundbreaking Wimmen's Comix anthology. In 1969 she co-created the character Vampirella for Forrest Ackerman and later collaborated with Colleen Doran on a provocative Wonder Woman series. She has written several volumes on the role of women in comix including From Girls to Grrrlz: A History of Women's Comics from Teens to Zines. Robbins co-founded Friends of Lulu in 1994, a nonprofit organization promoting women's readership of comics and increasing profile in the comix profession. In addition to her appearance at Fantagraphics Bookstore, Robbins will be a guest at Geek Girl Con held at the Seattle Center October 8 and 9.
The "Brinkley Girls" exhibition includes a dozen Brinkley comics pages, as well as Brinkley-illustrated sheet music, hair accessories, photographs, and related ephemera. Robbins will discuss Nell Brinkley's fascinating career followed by an informal reception and book signing from 6:00 to 9:00 PM on Saturday, October 8 at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery, 1201 S. Vale St., Seattle. Phone 206.658.0110.
This event coincides with the lively Georgetown Art Attack featuring visual and performing arts presentations throughout the historic neighborhood.
Make a habit of visiting Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery this fall as we approach five years of presenting comix culture to the masses. It just keeps getting better:
On Saturday, September 3 between noon and 3:00 PM, we host a sneak preview of "Hooked on Comix 3." Fimmakers David P. Moore and Audry Mandelbaum will be present for a continuous screening of the latest installment of their insightful documentary series on alternative comix. This one features the lovely Dame Darcy and always entertaining Tony Millionaire. Can't wait.
On Saturday, September 10 we open Drawing Power, an amazing exhibition of cartoon advertising curated by Warren Bernard. On Saturday, September 24 Bernard will present a slide talk followed by a book signing from 6:00 to 8:00 PM. He'll be joined by visual artist and cartoonist Tom Neely presenting his latest "painted novel" The Wolf.
On Saturday, October 1 we'll host a special preview of the topical graphic novel Oil and Water with journalist writer Steve Duin from 6:00 to 8:00 PM.
The following Saturday, October 8 we welcome comix legend Trina Robbins for an exhibition and slide talk on Nell Brinkley from her phenomenal book Brinkley Girls, who will be in town as an guest at the Geek Girl Con.
Don't miss a minute of the action. Visit Fantagraphics Bookstore daily. If you don't live here, with local housing prices remaining soft and the Seattle job market improving, now's a good time to move. See ya'll soon.
• Review: "...[L]ike the best coming-of-age stories — comics or otherwise —Wandering Son is meticulously accurate in its details, but universal in its emotions. Gay or not, readers shouldn’t find it too difficult to identify with kids who feel like their bodies and their friends are equally culpable in the worst kind of betrayal, preventing them from realizing the potential they see in themselves." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "The tone of each book is very different, with the Gil Jordan collection favoring clever mysteries, narrow escapes, and broad comic relief, while the Sibyl-Anne book is subtler, dissecting the way miniature societies work, together and in opposition. Both are excellent, though, showing off the strengths of the Eurocomics tradition, with its sprawling narratives spread across small panels, mixing cartoony characters and elaborate backgrounds." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "Reminiscent of the classic Michael Winner-helmed and Charles Bronson-starred The Mechanic, Tardi's follow up to his acclaimed adaptation of a Manchette crime novel West Coast Blues, Like a Sniper Lining Up His Shot... delivers a superior sequential thriller. Violent, sexy, and littered with enough shocks to excite the most hardened crime fiction fan, Tardi once again produces one of the finest examples of the genre." – Rick Klaw, The SF Site: Nexus Graphica
• Review: "McKean has long been established as a master of multimedia imagery and Celluloid represents possibly his finest work. The clarity and seamlessness with which he combines photography with drawings and paintings makes every scene entirely convincing. It’s this hyper-reality that encourages us to submit to the dream-logic of the story." – Gavin Lees, Graphic Eye
• Review: "[Celluloid] is a story of sexual growth and empowerment. ...McKean's artwork gains greater dimensionality as his central character grows more assertive.... The pace of the story is left up to the reader, but McKean has created such lush visuals that many will want to linger and examine the intricacies of the imagery presented....Many of the pages are so well crafted in their surrealistic imagery that they could easily hang beside Picasso. McKean has boldly stepped away from the confines of mainstream comic books with this endeavor, and the result is a masterpiece of eroticism that relies heavily on intellect and emotion, rather than just mere arousal or titillation." – Michael Hicks, Graphic Novel Reporter
• Review: "If Siamese Dream-era Smashing Pumpkins exploded inside a Victorian tea shop, it would look something like [Meat Cake]... The humour is perverse, like an alt-universe Kate Bush who grew up reading penny dreadfuls instead of Brontë, the drawings are obsessively crammed with fever-dream detail, and the author has the advantage of being able to make publicity appearances dressed as her own characters, which is not something most cartoonists should attempt." – Grant Buist, The Name of This Cartoon is Brunswick
• Profile: Rosalie Higson of The Australian talks to Robert Crumb in anticipation of his visit to Sydney next month for the GRAPHIC festival: "There's a unique timing and way of telling a story with comic panels, different to writing novels or a film script. And there are seasons in the life of any artist. Crumb has dropped all his ongoing characters. 'I'm sick of them all. I'm very critical of my own work, when I look back on it I'm not especially proud, I wasn't really serious enough about it. I'm not sure what it all means for posterity, I have no idea. You can be the world's most favourite artist, and be totally forgotten a few years later,' he says."
• Interview:At Print magazine's Imprint blog, Michael Dooley chats with Trina Robbins. Dooley: "Trina's 2009 The Brinkley Girls: The Best of Nell Brinkley's Cartoons from 1913-1940 is a stunning collection as well as a detailed pictorial chronicle of the evolution of fashion and style, from Nouveau to Deco." Robbins: "I love clothes. I love lipstick. I love glamor. And obviously, so have many other women, if you look at the large readership of artists like Nell Brinkley and Brenda Starr's Dale Messick. And in the case of younger readers, at all the girls who loved Katy Keene. There probably are still some women who might want to see me, if not guillotined, then at least sent off to a gulag for promoting such work."
Fantagraphics is puttin' the "comics" back in Comic-Con as we head to San Diego this week with a slew of scintillating signings, almost two-dozen dynamite debuts, and a collection of comics sure to please any comics fan... and fill those enormous free tote bags they give away at the door.
Friday, July 22nd: • 10:30-11:30 Comics Arts Conference Session #5: Critical Approaches to Comics: An Introduction to Theories and Methods— Matthew J. Smith and Randy Duncan with panelist, Andrei Molotiu. [Room 26AB] • 1:00-2:00 Comics Arts Conference Session #6: Wordless Comicswith Andrei Molotiu. [Room 26AB] • 12:00-1:00 CBLDF Master Session 3: Jaime Hernandez [Room 30CDE] • 1:00-2:00 Publishing Queer: Producing LGBT Comics and Graphic Novels with moderator Justin Hall [Room 9] • 1:00-2:30 The Golden Age of the Fanzine moderated by Bill Schelly. [Room 24ABC] • 10:30-11:30 Cartoon Network Comedy: Regular Show/The Problem Solverz and More! The Problem Solverz talent includes Ben Jones, John Pham, and Jon Vermilyea. [Room 6A]
Comic-Con keeps rolling out their 2011 programming schedule — today they've posted Saturday's lineup and it features our can't-miss 35th Anniversary panel which will include a couple of announcements that will knock your socks off. Here's what Fanta fans will want to catch:
10:00-11:30 50 Years of Comic Fandom: The Founders— It's hard to believe but it's been fifty years (more or less) since that peculiar institution called Comic Book Fandom was born. Meet some of those who were there at the inception, including Jean Bails, Paul Levitz, Dick and Pat Lupoff, Richard Kyle, Bill Schelly, Roy Thomas, and Maggie Thompson along with moderator Mark Evanier, as they discuss how fandom came to be and just what it was. Room 24ABC
11:30-12:30 Bill Blackbeard: The Man Who Saved Comics— In the 1960s, while writing a history of the American comic strip, Bill Blackbeard learned that most of the nation's libraries were discarding their newspaper archives in favor of microfilm, destroying countless pages of comics in the process. Over the course of the next three decades, Blackbeard and his volunteers at the San Francisco Academy of Comic Art amassed a collection of more than 2.5 million comics, including virtually every comic strip ever syndicated in U.S. newspapers. When he passed away earlier this year, Blackbeard had contributed to more than 200 comic strip collections, including the beloved Smithsonian Collection of Newspaper Comics, and his work had inspired generations of cartoonists, historians and fans. Cartoon Art Museum curator Andrew Farago, publishers Gary Groth and Dean Mullaney, editor and herstorian Trina Robbins, and Jenny Robb, curator/assistant professor from Ohio State University's Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum celebrate Blackbeard's life and legacy. Room 24ABC
12:30-1:30 Fantagraphics 35th Anniversary— Fantagraphics Books was founded in 1976 with the launch of their first publication, The Comics Journal. Since then, they've grown to become one of the world's foremost publishers of literary comix and comic strips. Publishers Gary Groth and Kim Thompson offer a multimedia presentation highlighting their favorite works from the past 35 years, as well as previewing some of their upcoming favorites. Expect a major announcement or two, as well! Room 24ABC
1:00-2:00 Spotlight on Anders Nilsen— Comic-Con special guest Anders Nilsen debuts his magnum opus, the 800+-page Big Questions, which he began self-publishing over 10 years ago and which quickly placed Nilsen at the forefront of alternative cartoonists. He is part of the Chicago comics collective The Holy Consumption with Jeffrey Brown, John Hankiewicz, and Paul Horsnchemeier and was recently featured in the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. Join him as he presents a slideshow of his work from his haunting postmodern fable. Room 4
2:30-3:30 The Art of the Graphic Novel—Andrew Farago (curator, Cartoon Art Museum) talks with graphic novelists Chester Brown (Paying for It), Seymour Chwast (Dante's Divine Comedy), Eric Drooker (Blood Song), Joyce Farmer (Special Exits, A Memoir), Joëlle Jones (Troublemaker), Jason Shiga (Empire State: A Love Story (Or Not)), and Craig Thompson (Habibi) about their work in the genre that has elevated comics to mainstream bookstores all over the world. Room 24ABC