Okay everybody, here's what we're going to do: since we went on record saying we weren't going to do slipcased Pogo sets when Volume 1 came out, and then we were convinced otherwise (with the first set out soon), we're gonna throw in the slipcase at no extra charge for everybody who orders Volume 2 from our mail-order outfit (unless you opt out). We'll even eat the extra packing and shipping costs! So no matter where you bought your Volume 1 from, you can get a slipcase for FREE, but only if you order Volume 2 from us — you won't be able to purchase the slipcase separately. Deal? Deal! But this is a limited-time offer so don't delay!
We are happy to reveal these first glimpses of Pogo - The Complete Syndicated Comic Strips Vol. 2: "Bona Fide Balderdash" by Walt Kelly and the Pogo Vol. 1-2 Box Set! (Another, "CGI" view of the box set is below.) And that's not all we have to share! Check out a big 34-page excerpt from Vol. 2 including the detailed Table of Contents, 16 pages of dailies, 5 Sunday pages, and incidental artwork right here. These pics are of advance copies; these megillahs will be arriving in 4-6 weeks, though why not pre-order yours right now? (And yes, box set slipcases WILL be available one way or another — details forthcoming!)
The furtherest-traveled Bethesda-sent postcard of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review:NPR's Glen Weldon looks at The Hypo by Noah Van Sciver. "Although The Hypo is painstakingly researched, the book is no dry accretion of biographical detail. That's because Van Sciver approach's is so deeply, palpably personal, even idiosyncratic. . . Inspiring? No. But achingly familiar, relatably human and — most of all — profoundly real."
• Interview:Comic Book Resources and Ryan Ingram pulled Noah Van Sciver aside to talk about The Hypo. Van Sciver says, "My reason for spending so much time working on The Hypo was an honest to god interest in the subject of depression and the struggles Lincoln was going through at that time. Probably nobody else would have done this book."
• Review:We Got Reviews looks at Noah Van Sciver's The Hypo. Chad Parenteau closes it beautifully states," In The Hypo, Van Sciver proves in these pages that you can bring an almost mythic figure of the past to modern day terms while still making that figure heroic."
• Plug:Large-Hearted Boy got his mitts on The Hypo by Noah Van Sciver: "I've been looking forward to this book for what feels like two years now. . . It's a side of Lincoln rarely revealed, beautifully illustrated, and wonderfully told."
• Commentary: Rob Clough of the Comics Journal and High-Low made sure to organize some Noah Van Sciver within the Library of Congress mini-comic collection: "Everything's coming up Noah these days, with an Ignatz nomination for The Death of Elijah Lovejoy and the release of his Abraham Lincoln book The Hypo from Fantagraphics." Clough also comments on Jaime and Gilbert's Ignatz awards, "I dubbed Jaime Hernandez the King of SPX after he took home three extremely well-deserved Ignatz awards. After getting shafted by the other major comics awards shows, it was great to see him relishing this moment."
• Commentary: Tom Spurgeon says a bunch of nice stuff about the Hernandez Brothers, Noah Van Sciver on the Comics Reporter. "Los Bros had a steady line of admirers at the show, which was really encouraging to me. They had good solo panels, too -- Frank Santoro talked to Jaime and got him to choke up a bit, and Sean T. Collins talked to Gilbert and applied to that conversation the benefit of reading the holy shit out of all of Gilbert's work sometime in the last year. . . I enjoyed that Abraham Lincoln book of [Noah's]."
• Commentary:The Beat loves on all creators, great and small including the Hernandez Brothers
• Plug (video): Junot Diaz talks about the Hernandez Brothers in Vol. 1 Brooklyn.
• Commentary (audio): The podcasts Hideous Energy attends not only SPX but the Politics and Prose signing for the Hernandez Brothers . The hosts have a frighteningly good time at SPX despite the trials and tribulations of their hotel room at Red Roof Inn.
• Review: The School Library Journal dissects The Adventures of Venus by Gilbert Hernandez and includes some questions to ask when using it in an English or literature class: ". . . while certainly young readers should appreciate many aspects of the book, some of its content may land as so idiosyncratic (albeit playfully so) as to inaccessible. And that’s actually a good thing."
• Review:The Chicago Reader enjoys Lilli Carré's Heads or Tails. Noah Bertlasky compares,"Eschewing the autobiographical meaning-through-trauma tradition of Maus, the pop art goofiness of Fort Thunder, or the sex and drug spewing of underground artists like R. Crumb, Carré specializes in surreal narratives and exquisite design.. . . Reading this, it's easy to forget there was ever a time comics were viewed as separate from art."
• Plug: Alex Pardee of Juxtapoz picks Johnny Ryan as his dude du jour and demands you read Prison Pit #4 and all previous volumes."I'm pretty sure the words 'Johnny Ryan' mean 'Fuck You' in Elvish or Klingon. . . Lucky for us, Johnny Ryan doesn't give a Russell Brand about pissing anyone off. . . amassing a huge cult following based solely around brilliantly conveyed hemorrhoid jokes, hitler bashing, and 'shit-fucking-shit'. . ."
• Plug: Claire Donnor of comiXology focuses on No Straight Lines, edited by Justin Hall. "Besides offering an exciting array of new and rare talent, this volume presents a very refreshing change from the familiar straight male fantasizing that has traditionally dominated the indie and underground scenes."
• Review:The North Adams Transcript reviews Mattotti and Zentner's The Crackle of the Frost. John Seven writes, "What the words cannot portray, the images do, the real psychological landscape that Samuel's confused analysis grapples with, and a testament to the power that can be born of the collusion between the literary and the illustrative in the best examples of graphic storytelling."
• Review: Carter Scholz returns to The Comics Journal to pen a review of Dal Tokyoby Gary Panter, "So think of it as a comic strip, a periodic commitment. A blog before and after its time, a day book spanning three pitiless decades. Each strip of the first series is time-stamped, by hand, to the minute, testimony to Panter’s living and working and recording in the here-and-now of it."
• Interview: Max Robinson of City Paper interviews Dan Clowes and about the continuing success of Ghost World: "I’m heartened that it seems to live on. It’s about teenage girls from another world, really; [they] don’t text, don’t have cell phones, don’t have computers. It’s really about the olden days and yet it seems like the whole new readership of teenagers seems to take to it every year."
• Review:Pop Matters talks about Daniel Clowes. Features editor Josh Indar says, "This is why I love Dan Clowes. He’s the only comic artist I’ve read who can do this to me, to pull me so completely into his world that, just as the old lady said, I start seeing reality through the lens of his work."
• Review: Nick Gazin's Comic Book Love-In #72 on Vice includes Jacques Tardi's New York Mon Amour. "Many of the comics they're publishing have never been translated into English before so it is a big, big deal that they are providing this service to all American lovers of comics. . . The art's great and it captures what New York in the early 80s was."
• Interview:Print Mag interviews the indeliable Roger Langridge on comics, acting and life. It's worth reading yourself for the gorgeous panels full of exquisite details. Langridge says, "It's a fascinating world, theater."
• Interview: Chris Auman of Reglar Wiglar interviews Ed Piskor on his previous book and upcoming Hip Hop Family Tree. "I grew up surrounded by hip hop. I feel like the fact that I even learned to draw was shaped by a hip hop mentality."
Occasionally a finger on the camera slips and reporters or other publishers accidentally take a picture of the people working on publishing the books, rather than our wide array of talented artists and authors. Here are some nice things people said about us and some semi-nice photos of Gary, Kim, Eric, Jacq and Jen: Tom Spurgeon at Comics Reporter, Chris Mautner on Robot 6 and Comic Book Resources, artist Nick Abadzis, Charles Brownstein at CBLDF, Heidi MacDonald at The BEAT.
Behold the Bona Fide Balderdash! We just put the finishing touches on Pogo - The Complete Syndicated Comic Strips Vol. 2 and sent it off to the printer! (Right on schedule too, we might add.) Here's your first look at the final cover artwork (click the image for a slightly bigger version) — once again the book is lovingly edited and designed by Walt Kelly's daughter Carolyn Kelly. Look for the book to hit shelves right around Thanksgiving time; learn more about it and pre-order your copy here.
Also, although we decided not to when we started the series, we have been persuaded to release our Pogo volumes in slipcased sets of two (just like The Complete Peanuts and Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse), and the first set is also available for pre-order now. We'll share the final slipcase design with you as soon as it's ready to show off. We're still figuring out whether it will be feasible to offer the slipcases separately; stay tuned for news on that.
I'm pleased to report that thanks to a few tips, we've got 103 of the 104 Sunday POGO pages we need for the next book (three of them include black and white panels from book reprints that we've colored to match the surrounding strips, but that's just between you and us).
The August 19, 1951 strip remains the problem child -- or "chile," as one of Kelly's characters might say. We have a 1/3 Sunday page tearsheet, and have been able to track down two of the three panels from the missing top strip as this sequence appears in a book, but the opening panel is nowhere to be found. If push comes to shove, we'll print it this way with a little note explaining to fans that we haven't been able to locate this strip (and will publish a full version in a later book if and when it turns up) -- we did that with a PEANUTS strip back when, and it did eventually turn up.
We're coming down the home stretch on the second volume of Walt Kelly's Complete Pogo, and the good news is that we've got literally 99% of the never-beforere-reprinted, full-color Sundays from the two years covered in this collection. The bad news is that we're missing a half dozen panels still.
How can we be missing panels and not strips, you ask? Simple: the Pogo Sunday was put together in an odd configuration in which of the three possible formats -- full page, half page, and third page -- only one, the third page, contained the complete strip. The third page was missing the full top tier, and the full page was missing one square panel in the middle of the strip that was designed to be removable so that the strip could be assembled in this format.
So if we've got the half-page we're fine. If we've got both the full and the third page we're also fine because the two "complete each other" (to be romantic about it).
However, in the case of the following four strips:
July 8, 1951 December 9, 1951 September 14, 1952 October 12, 1952
We have only the full page, which means we're missing that little square. (We actually have a black-and-white version of all except December 9, 1951 hanks to a book reprint, so if push comes to shove we can colorize them and insert them -- but December 9, 1951 is the tricky one, we've only got a bad microfilm version of that panel.)
There is also August 19, 1951, for which we have only the third (meaning we're missing the entire top third of it) -- here again we have access to a black and white version (which seems to have been edited for the book version, another problem) but nothing else.
So we're sending out a call to collectors: If you know of or can find or can put us on the track of HALF or THIRD page versions of the first four strips, and FULL or HALF page versions of that final one... do let us know!
• Review: "This thing [The Furry Trap] is a nightmarish monster. It's pretty great. ...[W]hat Simmons does so well -- without peer, honestly -- is smash together sweetness and nightmare. Innocence and the most vile corruption imaginable. The stories are unsettling, but Simmons takes it three steps further than many other creators in this vein and then pushes the events into exceedingly horrific territory and then shows how unsettled even the characters are, when they realize the kind of world they live in.... Yeah, this stuff is really good, in surprisingly different ways from story to story. It's a reprint collection that feels like a wonderfully terrible, vibrantly new manifesto on what comics are capable of." – Tim Callahan, Comic Book Resources
• Review: "Popeye Vol. 6: Me Li’l Swee’ Pea... is the last of the real, 'classic' Popeye volumes, meaning it’s the last batch of Popeye comics E.C. Segar did before dying of leukemia in 1938. Underscoring the tragedy is the fact that Segar’s skills hadn’t dimmed at despite his illness. The final daily storyline, King Swee’ Pea, is as strong and hilarious as Segar’s best material... This volume is also special as it contains one of the saddest sequences I’ve ever read in comics, wherein Swee’ Pea is taken from a distraught Popeye. ...I think it speaks to Segar’s genius about how verklempt this sequence still makes me." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "Krazy & Ignatz 1922-24: At Last My Drim of Life Has Come True... is the final volume in Fantagraphics’ Krazy Kat collection, though for roundabout publishing reasons, it catches the strip midway through its run. Reading this latest collection, I feel like I have a deeper appreciation for Herriman’s narration, which I always kind of saw as entertaining, but secondary to the dialogue and situations. I’m not sure why, but I feel like something 'clicked' here and another piece of the Herriman puzzle has fallen into place for me. Another great thing about this book: A whole run of Herriman’s 'Us Husbands' strip as well as some really early stuff." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "[Pogo: Vol. 1 of the Complete Syndicated Comic Strips:] Through the Wild Blue Wonder is an absolute peach of a collection; it features the typically handsome deluxe binding we’re used to from Fantagraphics and a beautiful cover, and the non-strip material within is more than enough to justify the double-sawbuck price tag.... Of course, any such collection lives and dies by the quality, readability and durability of the strips inside... [Pogo's] art... is simply breathtaking; the facial expressions and body language in these strips are often deceptively simple, but they offer a master class in how to communicate emotion and expression in cartooning.... [Kelly's] backgrounds are lovely and provide a perfect balance to the detail in the character illustrations... But what puts Pogo way, way over the top in terms of sheer audacious greatness isn’t its art, great as that is. It’s Kelly’s remarkably eclectic writing and inventive use of language that makes the strip." – Leonard Pierce, A Schediastic Hootenanny
• Commentary: "...Any Similarity to Persons Living or Dead is Coincidental... is a beautiful book, and I’ve been thinking a lot about it recently. There’s a certain brand of mean-spirited, petty humor that’s been pretty popular over the last few decades, in which the main point seems to be laughing at some celebrity or another who no longer has a thriving career. As if failing to maintain A-list status in as fickle and luck-dependent as Hollywood was a valid reason to be mocked. At first glance, some of Friedman’s work, with its cast of has-beens and never-weres, can seem to be another example of this kind of comedy, but it isn’t — most of these strips cut a lot deeper than that. The reader feels the sting and pain of failure and despair too strongly to feel superior. In other words, we’re all Rondo Hatton." – Tim Hodler, The Comics Journal
Walt Kelly was old school: When he drew his comics, he first sketched them out in light blue pencil, and then proceeded to delineate them in his legendarily lush ink line. One huge advantage of this system was that he didn't have to erase any pencil lines (all that erasin' time adds up). Here is a sample.
Another advantage is that it made them really cool looking! Carolyn Kelly, the editor of the POGO series, thinks so too, and since she had a selection of original POGO art from the strip's first years, she scanned several images that featured those blue lines and used them as graphic elements in the first volume.
We would like to continue this design element, but as it happens, Carolyn's stash of POGO originals for the next several years' worth of strips is very limited. So we are hereby putting out a call to all POGO collectors: If you have any originals (dailies or Sundays, but Sundays especially since they often contain such lush imagery), particularly for 1952 through 1955 since that covers our next two volumes (but pretty much any years would be great), do please contact us! In exchange for a scan of your precious collectible, we will be happy to send you copies of the book it appears in.
• Review: "Here’s the thing about Pogo. There’s never been anything like it. It’s utterly unique and individual in the same fashion that Peanuts, or Calvin and Hobbes or Little Nemo or any other of the great 20th century comic strips are.... It’s a much weirder strip than I think most people give it credit for and that is certainly something worth both recognizing and admiring." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "I highly recommend anyone who has an interest in LGBT issues to pick up Wandering Son, regardless of whether or not you read a lot of manga. It is, in many ways, distinctly Japanese, but its straightforward and honest deception of gender issues is rare in any medium, and it shines equally as a coming-of-age tale, especially for anyone who's ever felt they never quite fit in." – Anne Lee, Chic Pixel
• Review: "Prior to 1947, romance existed in comics but primarily as the humorous teenage variety for young readers, typified by the gang from Riverdale in Archie Comics. Simon and Kirby re-imagined the concept with mature stories aimed at adults, primarily women.... Fantagraphics recently collected many of these stories in the handsome hardcover Young Romance: The Best of Simon & Kirby's Romance Comics. Within the true artistic mastery of Kirby becomes evident. The same man, well known at the time for his bombastic stories, delivers these subtle, very human tales of angst, betrayal, and of course love. The volume's essays place these tales within the proper historical context. The beautiful reproductions were completely restored and unlike some of the Marvel Kirby reprints, nothing was recolored." – Rick Klaw, The SF Site: Nexus Graphica
• Interview:Drew Friedman writes us: "I wanted to share. This is the new online issue of INK, SVA's Student run comics mag, featuring an interview with me, also an article about WFMU radio's connection to cartoonists. This is pretty impressive I think. Enjoy!"
• Interview:Robot 6's Tim O'Shea has a Q&A with Kevin Huizenga: "Seems to me like you’re doing something wrong as a writer if you’re not affected or surprised by your own work. But it’s not something to talk about. You’re not supposed to laugh at your own jokes. The author at his desk, deeply moved by his own work is a pretty funny image."
• Scene: "In the exhibition, titled, 'Modern Cartoonist: The Art of Daniel Clowes,' we find the artist revealing the weird underbelly of America through quick and methodical strokes of a pen. Furrowed brows, sneers, and nervous beads of sweat accompany many of Clowes' odes to anxiety, causing us to acknowledge the strange and desperately sad state of his characters, who are striving to fit in." – Kathleen Massara, The Huffington Post
What happens when you have to miss a couple of days of the comics internet is that it takes you almost the whole rest of the week to get fully caught up on Online Commentary & Diversions:
• List:Library Journal's Martha Cornog gives a nice shout-out to Carl Barks and recommends Oil and Water by Steve Duin & Shannon Wheeler as one of "30 Graphic Novels for Earth Day 2012": "Wheeler’s atmospheric, ink-washed greys capture eccentric residents from crabbers to a pelican-rescue team, and Duin’s script catches the ironic resiliency of people exploited by the very industry that feeds them.... Valuable for high schoolers and adults as a glimpse into the crisis, and for general sensitization to environmental issues."
• Review: "When I brought Pogo home from the bookstore on a Sunday afternoon, I called my daughters over, and we lay on the floor in the living room and read it together. I read it aloud, because half of the fun of Pogo is hearing the fantastic dialogue penned by Kelly, and my daughters loved it. I’m sure there were things that went over their heads — jokes that rely on experiences they haven’t had, references to past events, wordplay that’s a little too sophisticated. But the beauty of the strip is that does work on so many levels. There’s slapstick humor, cute little talking animals, and keen observations on the human condition — the last made easier to swallow perhaps because the characters aren’t people, as human as they may be." – Jonathan Liu, Wired – GeekDad
• Review: "[Jason] populates his tales with brightly clad cats and dogs and ducks, but their misbehavior is unmistakably human.... [Athos in America] is... consummately worth reading for its three gems: the lovely title story, the self-portrait 'A Cat From Heaven' and the wonderful 'Tom Waits on the Moon,' in which Jason carefully maps the crossed paths of four lonely people." – Sam Thielman, Newsday
• Review: "Despair threatens to overwhelm the creator’s usual tales of longing [in Athos in America]. In 'A Cat From Heaven,' his characteristic unrequited love story gives way to a somewhat depressing look at a self-absorbed cartoonist named Jason’s bitter relationship. Mercifully, the rest of the collection is a little more playful, from a couple noir parodies to the highlight, 'Tom Waits on the Moon,' in which four solipsistic stories converge in a tragic act." – Mike Sebastian, Campus Circle
• Review: "The Sincerest Form of Parody: The Best 1950s MAD-Inspired Satirical Comics is a wonderful book collecting the best stories of the beginnings of a favorite comic book genre — and I can’t emphasize this enough — it’s put together by people who know what they’re doing. Plus, it’s designed to fit on your bookshelf right next to your MAD Archives volumes. I can’t believe that you haven’t already picked this up! Are you unsane?!?" – K.C. Carlson, Comics Worth Reading
• Review: "If [Wandering Son] Vol. 1 was a masterclass in people not wanting to accept the status quo within their own minds, Vol. 2 shows the uncertainty of the waiting world. The way that Nitori and Takatsuki fumble forward with no plan is painful and endearing. They know the two of them are better together but there’s the problem of dealing with classmates, family and teachers. It’s not easy and well done to Takako for not short-circuiting the process. It’s not easy writing characters in distress but it’s wonderful to read it. If you can recognise the character’s pain and sympathise despite your differences, it proves you’re human and so is the author.... So much of what we read is a kind of literary false economy. We put in so much and get so little out of it. Wandering Son asks so little of you and you get so much out of it.... It is a wonderful, sweet, heartbreaking window into being different, young, unsure, afraid and human." – Eeeper's Choice
• Review: "[The Man Who Grew His Beard]’s a big batch of critic-friendly comic strips, comics which resemble curios excavated from some none-too-defined European past and more often than not have all the daring shallow-space visual syntax of a Garfield strip. They’re less stories than contraptions that wear their artifice and structure on their sleeve, like those medieval homunculi which transparently show their cogs and mechanisms while making their programmed movements." – Rich Baez, It's Like When a Cowboy Becomes a Butterfly
• Review: "Action! Mystery! Thrills!... beautifully resurrects all the Golden Age favorites, from superheroes to killer robots to cowboys and occult Nazis. This time capsule collection of cover art spans from 1933-45... An index in the back gives the fascinating stories behind the covers, while the full-page, color reproductions reveal them for what they are: works of art." – Mike Sebastian, Campus Circle
• Review: "Primarily known for his ghoulish comic strips in Playboy and The New Yorker, Gahan Wilson showed his tender side (kind of) with Nuts. Originally a series of one-page vignettes running in National Lampoon, Nuts is presented here in its entirety as a classic warts-and-all reminiscence of childhood, from sick days to family gatherings, the joys of candy to the terrors of the dark basement." – Mike Sebastian, Campus Circle
• Review: "R. Crumb hit it big in the ‘60s alternative Comix scene with his creation of Fritz the Cat (originally conceived as an adolescent). The feline protagonist remained Crumb’s avatar for lambasting American culture until a lackluster film adaptation prompted some divine retribution from his creator. The Life and Death of Fritz the Cat collects all of Fritz’s essential stories." – Mike Sebastian, Campus Circle
• Awards:GalleyCat reports that Author Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer, contributor to Significant Objects, has won the $1,000 Sidney Prize, which rewards "the author of the best new American story," and has a link to an excerpt from the winning story
• Opinions:Robert Crumb's got 'em! In the third installment of the "Crumb On Others" series, he lets you know exactly what he thinks of a bunch of prominent personalities, from Hitler to Ghandi (in whose homeland Crumb can be seen above) and from Kurtzman to Van Gogh
• Interview: When The Comics Journal posted the Q&A with Bill Griffith conducted by Gary Panter, I called it the must-read of the day, and it still stands as your must-read of the week: "I’ve only taken LSD twice in my life. Once on the beach in Martha’s Vineyard in 1967, which was pleasant, but not ego-shattering or anything. And once in New York after I’d started doing comics. All I remember about the second time was, I got hemorrhoids."
• Interview: Who better to talk to Matthias Wivel, editor of our Scandinavian comics anthology Kolor Klimax, than Steffen Maarup, editor of our Danish comics anthology From Wonderland with Love? A taste: "Putting together a good anthology is similar to making a good mixtape. Whatever the individual merits of a piece, it won’t do to include it if it doesn’t somehow work for the anthology as a whole. There has to be a consistent idea or tone to the book, which doesn’t mean that there can’t be dissonance — there’s some of that in Kolor Klimax, and I think for the better — but the individual parts still have to generate something greater than their sum. It’s incredibly difficult to achieve, but also a lot of fun." Read more at The Metabunker
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