The tallest seedlings of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review:ForeWord looks at Dash Shaw's New School. "Like its predecessors, New School is unlike everything else out there.…It’s a startling, yet aptly mundane vision of one man’s future, made all the more believable by Shaw’s expressive, cartoony drawings and generally solid scripting…ultimately, it’s an entertaining and thoughtful graphic novel," writes Bill Baker.
• Review:Paraphilia Magazine covers the two Malcolm McNeill books about his collaborations with William S. Burroughs. "Observed While Falling is an invaluable addition to the library of any Burroughs fan…Having shed light on a previously dark corner of the Burroughs legacy, will hopefully provide vital research material for critical analysis of this gravely neglected work produced during a largely overlooked period in his career," writes Edward S. Robinson. The Lost Art of Ah Pook enchants, "Mc Neill’s images – they’re more than mere illustrations – are rich, complex, and often very strange indeed. Disturbed and disturbing…Mc Neill’s large-form images are remarkable works of art…throughout the quality of Mc Neill’s draftsmanship is of a rare standard."
• Review:Comics Worth Reading recommends Pogo Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 by Walt Kelly. "These upscale volumes collecting the classic Pogo comic strip are archival quality, beautifully reproduced and a pleasure to look upon…Pogo is well-loved for a reason. The strips are beautifully drawn and keenly observent of human nature."
• Interview (audio):Janet Hamlin is interviewed by Anna Maria Tremonti on CBC Radio show, The Current, about working on Sketching Guantanamo and being at the courtroom trials. "What I'm working on that day is determined by whatever activity is in court…"
• Review (audio): Brian Heater is a guest on Bullseye with Jesse Thorn and brings up Peter Bagge's Other Stuff. Heater gabs, "…the iconic underground cartoonist of the 90s, anything depicted a slacker or the grunge era was probably by Bagge. Other Stuff has an overly cartoony look that is nicely juxtaposed by true-to-life stories…"
• Interview (video):Ed Piskor is interviewed by Jared Gardner during his Columbus Museum of Art Residency and speaks on his life through comics and Hip Hop Family Tree. "I grew up in just a hip hop environment, my house was the nucleus between three parks in town you could go to any given one and see some hip hop going on, rudimentary stuff …a few slabs of linoleum and a boombox," answered Piskor.
• Review:ConSequential reviewed The Hypo by Noah Van Sciver recently. "Van Sciver’s depiction is sufficiently sympathetic as to make the reader really root for him as he struggles against rival suitors, Mary’s family and his own anxious temperament. …the fact that it’s endearing, engaging and an all-round good read should make it your kind of thing as well," writes Lucy Boyes.
• Plug:Our Man in Boston profiles David Wojnarowicz and 7 Miles a Second. "Artists James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook vividly depict David Wojnarowicz’s life and struggles in a much improved edition…" says Robert Birnbaum.
• Review:Grovel reads Beta Testing the Apocalypse by Tom Kaczynski. "Anyone that likes the exploration of ideas, particularly the relationship between humanity, geography, architecture and technology, might get a kick out of reading something different, especially presented in such an unusual form," writes Andy Shaw.
•Review:MetroPulse checks out the EC Library Comics from Wallace Wood and Harvey Kurtzman. "EC had no fear of getting political, long before comics 'grew up.'…Fantagraphics’ EC Comics Library is a must-own for anyone who considers themselves a serious comics fan."Corpse on the Imjin! is "Thoroughly researched and meticulously detailed, Kurtzman’s stories are grim stuff in an era when most Americans believed their country could do no wrong… Grade-school boys reading these dark tales at the time must have had their minds completely blown." Meanwhile, Wally Wood's Came the Dawn! "The tales here are mostly crowd-pleasers with the sort of twist endings that would later become a Twilight Zone trademark."
• Review:Everything is an Afterthought by Kevin Avery is examined in Caught by the River. Andy Childs says, "it becomes apparent that when the history of rock’n'roll is ever written as it should be then he, Nelson, will take his place as a pivotal and hugely influential figure…Kevin Avery does a masterly job in re-constructing Paul Nelson’s reputation and after the enthusiastic critique in the first half of the book the examples of his work in the second half do not disappoint at all."
The most checked-out book of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review: Prison Pit Book 4 by Johnny Ryan is getting the hits this week. Gene Ambaum of Unshelved writes,"This reminds me of nothing as much as the violent, disturbed drawings I’ve seen in some middle-school boys’ notebooks. Next year, I’m going to tell [my daughter] it’s like a mind-map for her male classmates. If she believes me, I hope we can put off conversations about her dating for a few extra years."
• Review: Mark L. Miller of Ain't It Cool News enjoysJohnny Ryan's latest Prison Pit Book 4. "This is the kind of sick shit that would warrant a trip to the school counselor if you found this crudely etched into the back of your child’s Trapper Keeper. Johnny Ryan once again taps into something primal and pure with his crude drawings of gore, sex, and violence."
• Review:The Quietus and Mat Colgate leaf through some of the best books of 2012 including Prison Pit Book 4 by Johnny Ryan. "Every second spent reading 'Prison Pit' is a joy. A violent, scatological, faecal matter, blood and pus smeared hoot.…There's something brilliantly subversive about 'Prison Pit'," chuckles Colgate.
• Review: The AV Club checks out some new releases like The Comics Journal 302, co-edited by Kristy Valenti and Mike Dean. Noel Murray states, "Business as usual for a publication that was treating the cultural significance of comics as a known fact decades before graphic novels were making the bestseller list."
• Review:The Quietus and Mat Colgate leaf through some of the January releases including 7 Miles a Second by David Wojnarowicz, James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook. Colgate states, "Wojnarowicz was fearless about his artistry and aware that the mere facts of a life are barely a percent of the whole, preferring to reveal the truth through dreams, violent fantasy and allusion. 7 Miles a Second is a shocking book, but for all the right reasons."
• Review: Forbidden Planet's Daily Planet looks at some new releases from Fantagraphics like 7 Miles a Second by David Wojnarowicz, James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook. Matthew Rosenbery states, "The stories serve as beautiful and brutal snapshots of a brilliant life lived too hard and extinguished too soon. It is not too much to say that we all owe a great cultural debt to Mr. Wojnarowicz and picking up this book and trying to understanding his life is a good first step toward understanding that debt."
• Review: Comics Bulletin looks at Tales Designed to Thrizzle Vol. 2 by Michael Kupperman. Daniel Elkin finds it smirk-worthy: "Tales Designed to Thrizzle Volume Two has its place in the construct. It is 'silver and exact' like Sylvia Plath's Mirror and reflects the 'terrible fish' that has become our understandings of the world."
• Review: The Heart of Thomas by Moto Hagio gets the a full styling by Manga Bookshelf. Melinda Beasi writes "…teens and pre-teens who go to regular, modern public schools essentially live in their own society that is very much separate from the rest of the world, and it’s a society that is, frankly, terrifying…it views that kind of sacrifice as… well, ultimately pointless…Hagio makes it clear that running away is not the answer." Melinda continues on the book as a whole, "I also expected it to be very dated and I thought the story might not appeal to my tastes as a modern fan. Instead, I found it to be both beautiful and emotionally resonant to an extent I’ve rarely experienced—especially in [Boy's Love] manga. This is a book I’d wholeheartedly recommend to any comics fan, without reservation. It’s an absolute treasure."
• Review: The AV Club checks out some new releases like The Heart of Thomasby Moto Hagio. "with small cliffhangers at the end of each chapter to pull readers deeper into Hagio’s fantasyland. The intrigue deepens page by page (and this is a 500-page novel, mind), while Hagio develops her bracingly radical vision of a mini-society where homosexual attraction is so commonplace as to be the norm…" writes Noel Murray.
• Review:You'll Never Know Book Three: A Soldier's Heart by Carol Tyler gets a thorough and thoughtful review from Rob Clough on High-Low. "…this sounds a bit all over the map, that's because it is, but Tyler slowly pulls the strings of her narrative taut in some astonishing ways, especially in the third volume…It's a remarkable example of an artist being totally honest about their own feelings of grief and joy in a manner that provokes growth and fully embraces the relationship between the two."
• Review: Dylan Thomas of Minneapolis' Southwest Journal looks at Tom Kaczynski's Best Testing the Apocalypse. "Kaczynski uses science fiction as a microscope, poking at contemporary anxieties like blooming bacteria in a Petri dish. The genre provides the room he needs to examine the systems that shape our lives, whether they be architecture, urban design or capitalism."
• Review: Hillary Brown of Pasteenjoys the dark ride of Delphine by Richard Sala. "Sala’s rules; like testing gravity by dropping a penny from a building, the coin’s never going to fall up. Delphine is worth reading at least twice. Sala’s spell is strong."
• Review: SF Signal looks at Ralph Azham Volume 1: "Why Would You Lie to Someone You Love?" by Lewis Trondheim. "His humanoid animals, a staple of his work, place the story squarely into fantasy – along with the medieval-esque village and the magic – but the wry humor gives the story a modern feel" says Carrie Cuinn.
• Plug:Paste Magazine looks forward to the most anticipated books of 2013. These include Lost Cat by Jason. "The cranky Norwegian has seemed to soften a bit as he’s aged, and the description (detective searches for potential soulmate) goes along with that impression," write Hillary Brown. On Dash Shaw'sNew Schooland 3 New Stories. "In a few short years, Dash Shaw has proven himself a restless artist, committed to pushing what comics can do and what his own talents can accomplish… it’s nice to see him return with two works, no less."
• Plug: Publishers Weekly also released a list of the most anticipated books of 2013 which included Dash Shaw's New School. "The art disorients the reader and brings you right inside the troubled protagonists’ mind."
• Interview (video): Speaking of Dash, he recently spent a few days at Sundance for his Sigur Ros animated music video. A very short interview awaits you.
• Interview: Alexander Theroux is interviewed on Rain Taxi by Paul Maliszewski. Theroux, author of Estonia , The Strange Case of Edward Gorey , Laura Warholic and more states, "Revenge—I have written about this somewhere before—is the main subject of the modern novel, if it isn’t that of literature in general."
• Review:The Los Angeles Review of Books looks at Gary Panter's Dal Tokyo. Nicole Rudick writes "Panter’s medium is comics rather than architecture, but the effect of his work is the same: Dal Tokyo questions accepted notions of structure and meaning — taking them not as truth but as convention — and, taking Brecht’s advice, builds not 'on the good old days, but on the bad new ones.' "
• Review:The Weekly Crisis dissects the first panel of "Landscape!" a comic within Blazing Combat and how it contributed to the end of the series coinciding with the Vietnam War. Dan Hill states "At a time when an anti-war stance was tantamount to being a traitor to your country, it was also the beginning of comics beginning to tackle the uglier aspects of war, telling us exactly ‘how it is’. It showed us that comics could discuss and show issues more related to the real world than capes, tights and outlandish fantasy."
• Review:Paste Magazine looks at Linda Medley's Castle Waiting Vol. 1 (softcover). Sean Edgar writes, "Ultimately, Castle Waiting is an elegantly-written, uplifting take on European folklore supported by sterling art. As long as voices as talented and creative as Medley’s are around, stories like this will always be timeless."
• Interview: Robin McConnell of Inkstuds interviews Chris Wright for a second time, this time on his most recent graphic novel, Blacklung.
• Plug:The GLBT Roundtable's Rainbow Project lists best books for teens that encapsulate the GLBT-community issues. The Rainbow Project lists Shimura Takako's Wandering Son series as part of the Top Ten Books of 2012 as the characters "tackle problems such as gender identity, love, social acceptance, and puberty."
• Plug: The GLBT Roundtable also released a list of the best books for adults, Over the Rainbow, and the comics anthology No Straight Lines, edited by Justin Hall,was listed in the top ten.
• Interview: Tim O'Shea interviews Lilli Carré for Comic Book Resources on her process with Heads or Tails. "I went through all my stuff and arranged them not chronologically, but by how they each fed into each other… I don’t know if the dialogue I write or the way I draw is particularly well-crafted or not, but with both the art and dialogue I go with my gut and do what feels natural to me."
• Review: New York Journal of Books takes a turn around the room with The Complete Syndicated Pogo Vol 2 "Bona Fide Balderdash" by Walt Kelly. Mark Squirek writes, "Like the greatest of myths and fables, Pogo travels across time and ages. It is a world much like that of Aesop and trickster tales. It is a world capable of making a six year old smile with glee, a hipster smirk whether they want to or not, and a college professor laugh out loud… So graceful is his work with pencil and pen that you could loose yourself for hours in shear artistry of the panels he constructs."
• Plug:Westfield Blog suggests some books for you likeThe Complete Syndicated Pogo Vol 2 "Bona Fide Balderdash" by Walt Kelly."Walt Kelly’s art is a joy to look at and his dialogue and word play is just stunning. Pogo is a strip that you get more and more out of the more you read it," states Wayne Markley. And for Basil Wolverton's Spacehawk, "In the history of comics, there are very few, if any, that had such a unique style as Wolverton which, while as far away as you can get from classic illustrators like Raymond or Foster, it is every bit as good in its own unique way."
• Review: HeroesOnline looks at the latest Prince Valiant Vol. 6: 1947-1948. Andy writes "…the pace is fast, the action and intrigue are plenty and the violence is un-apologetically bloody. In addition, Foster was a stickler for historical accuracy in depicting everyday life in the 6th century."
• Review: Ryan Sands of Same Hat writes his 'belated' best of list which inludes Nancy Likes Christmas by Ernie Bushmiller and The End of the Fucking World by Charles Foresman.
• Plug: Tom Spurgeon announced the Peanuts Every Sunday book on Comics Reporter. More information tomorrow.
• Plug: Robot6 talks about Great but Forgotten anthologies. Fantagraphics' "Zero Zero ran for 27 issues, a longer run than most of the anthologies on this list received, but I don’t think it’s ever gotten its due as the truly great anthology of the ’90s." Chris Mautner continues with Blab, "I do think people have forgotten how cutting edge and exemplary an anthology Blab was, at least initially. For a while there it was running some seriously incredible work, like Al Columbia’s apocalyptic The Trumpets They Played, and the Jimmy Corrigan story that eventually became Acme Novelty #10, easily the most harrowing and darkest material Ware has produced to date." And finally Blood Orange, "Lasting a mere four issues, Blood Orange offered a mind-bending array of cutting-edge comics." WORRY NOT, we still have issues from someofthese.
Happy New Year's! Here's to a great year of books and the next year and the year after that. We salute you and thank you for your friendship and purchases. Some of you sent in photos reading books from this year (and a few past ones).
The most returned sweater of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Interview: Tom Spurgeon of the Comics Reporter interviews cartoonist Carol Tyler about her You'll Never Know series about her father, WWII and family bonds. He starts of the interview right, "You've lived with these books for a very long time. How did it feel to get some closure on this work?". Click here for the answers and more.
• Review:Comics Bulletin looks at You'll Never Know Book 3: Soldier's Heart by Carol Tyler. Jason Sacks states "You'll Never Know is a breathtaking graphic novel because Carol Tyler is honest enough to know that stories are seldom as tidy nor as dysfunctional as they seem on TV…It's a tremendously real story straight from the heart, told by a master cartoonist."
• Plug:Comic Book Resources and Brian Cronin investigate the legend around the FBI examining Pogo comic strips searching for hidden messages.
• Plug: Geekosystem has suggestions for our 20% sale like Pogo by Walt Kelly. "Are you a Calvin and Hobbes fan, dear reader?…If you are a fan, we’d point you towards one of the strip’s inspirations, Walt Kelly’s classic Pogo cartoons. By turns razor-edged political satire and old-fashioned slapstick comedy gold, these strips are being given their due."
• Review:Reality Studio looks and relooks at Observed While Falling and The Lost Art of Ah Pook Is Here by Malcolm McNeill on his collaboration with William S. Burroughs. Jan Herman writes "Observed While Falling brings a fresh analytical eye to the familiar Burroughsian fixations — synchronicity and doppelgangers, control systems, the word as virus, the number 23 — that dominate this memoir, while still offering a straightforward chronicle of the author’s relationship with le maître. Luckily for us, McNeill is an artist who can write. Really write.…the hard work, the exhilaration and, ultimately, the frustration of a project that failed to achieve its original goal — is largely treated with brilliant introspection and loving grace."
• Review:Forbidden Planet International continues their Best of 2012 lists. Douglas Noble places Chris Wright's Blacklung on the list. "Unforgettable, and Wright's beautiful, scratchy art is a treat, like EC Segar working with Yuichi Yokoyama designs."
• Review:Comics Alliance announced their Stephanie Brown Memorial awards. On Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse: House of Seven Haunts by Floyd Gottfredson, Chris Sims writes, "They're one of the few things that I get excited about to the point of giddiness, and House of the Seven Haunts! was the best volume yet…It's one wild adventure after another, and they're all done with an incredible skill that still holds up almost 80 years later."
• Review:Comics Alliance announced their Stephanie Brown Memorial awards. The Furry Trap by Josh Simmons makes the list "The faux-Batman comic, which details the Bat's horrifically misanthropic ways, might be a reason to check out the contents of this hardcover collection of Simmons stories, but the entire volume is full of troubling tales worth your attention…The unexpected happens, consistently, and that's about the only thing you can be sure of," states Tim Callahan.
• Plug:NO releases its Best Comics of 2012 list and Sean Collins breathtakingly writes about The Furry Trap, "Josh Simmons shits in your heart, again and again in ways that grow exponentially more refined and chilling as the book progresses. A perfect statement of rancid intent."
• Review:Comics Alliance announced their Stephanie Brown Memorial awards. Designer Dylan Todd writes on Barack Hussein Obama by Steven Weissman. "There's something vaguely Peanuts-esque at work here, with a cast of recognizable characters… all with their own quirks and personalities, all delivering punchlines while the specter of death and soul-crushing doubt hangs over their heads. It's funny, but like any good comedy, it's tied up in uncomfortable and relatable truths…It's surreal, nonsensical, and a little depressing -- so, huh, maybe it's an accurate portrayal of political life in the 21st century after all."
• Review: Timothy Callahan of Comic Book Resources looks back on 2012 and Steven Weissman's Barack Hussein Obama is #20 on his Best Of list. "It's just such a fragmented work of narrative, but Weissman plays with repetition and transformation in a near-musical way, and that ends up mattering most…This comic is difficult to discuss without sounding ridiculous, but I can't stop thinking about its unsettling strangeness."
• Review:Paste Magazine's guest writers Nathan Bulmer and Kevin Huizenga pick out some of our books as the Best of 2012 including Steven Weissman's Barack Hussein Obama, Jason's Athos in America, and Chris Wright's Blacklung. Bulmer looks at Weissman, "I have so many feelings about this book. This, to me, is the most gorgeous book of the year and is one that I will be returning to often."
• Plug: Geekosystem has suggestions for our 20% sale like Athos in America by Jason. "Fact: New Jason books are weird, funny, and always bring something new and unexpected to the table. Conjecture: This book probably deserves a place on your shelf…"
• Review: KC Carlson of Comics Worth Reading dives not into a vault of money but Carl Barks' books. While reading Uncle Scrooge: "Only a Poor Old Man"she can't help but write,"One way or another, all of these stories are classics (if not masterpieces) of early comic book storytelling. And not just for kids." When flipping to Donald Duck: "A Christmas for Shacktown" Carlson notes,"It’s probably one of the least sentimental Christmas stories around (and thus a favorite of many fans). It features an early example of Scrooge’s lack of charity, counterbalanced by his steadfast work ethic…I can’t say enough about how much I love these new Fantagraphics collections of this 'should always be in print' Carl Barks material."
• Review: Andrew Wheeler over at Anticks Musings enjoys Peanuts Vol. 17: 1983-1984 by THE Charles M. Schulz. Wheeler states, "they're reliably funny and occasionally moving. The deep sadness that used to manifest in Charlie Brown now comes up, less rawly, . . . For work done by the same one man, day after day, more than thirty years after he started that project, that's not just impressive, it's amazing."
• Review (video): Jon Longhi in episode 2 of Having a Book Moment features Spacehawk by Basil Wolverton "who was an amazing underground cartoonist with exp, surrealist view of reality that created some of the I think, most unique comics ever invented. . ."
• Review:Robot 6 enjoys SpacehawkbyBasil Wolverton. Chris Mautner writes "Wolverton’s Spacehawk has a vitality — at times it practically throbs with life — that the more static Stardust simply does not have. Spacehawk not only the best reprint project of the year, it’s the best reprint project of the past several years. It’s a revelation."
• Review:Comics Alliance announced their Best Comics of 2012. Basil Wolverton's Spacehawk "remind[s] you of some kind of Buck Rogers Technicolor serial as designed by Robert Crumb…Spacehawk is the freakishly charming sideshow to the more popular main event, but everyone who's seen its wonders would find themselves bored with what the guy in the big hat in the center ring is babbling on about," writes Tim Callahan
• Review:Comics Bulletin and Jason Sacks give Spacehawk by Basil Wolverton a rating of 4.5 outta 5 stars. "This book is really fucking exhilarating and awesome and eye-popping, and you have to add it to your bookshelf if you loved I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets…Spacehawk is lunatic, manic genius."
• Review:Delphine by Richard Sala gets BoingBoinged. Mark Frauenfelder writes, "I've long admired the gothy work of cartoonist Richard Sala. He delicately balances the line between horror and humor as few can. His latest graphic novel, Delphine, is his darkest effort to date."
• Review: Comic Book Resources counts down the Top 100 Comics of 2012 and includes The Hypo by Noah Van Sciver at #54. Brian Cronin states "Van Sciver spotlights a fascinating time in Lincoln's life where he barely resembles the man who would one day become one of the most famous presidents in U.S. history…The artwork is strong, as is the research." Cronin's own Top 10 Comics of 2012 listed Van Sciver at #2.
• Review:Panel Patter lists the Favorite Graphic Novels of 2012 and Noah Van Sciver is #2 for The Hypo. Rob McMonigal writes "Given that Van Sciver specializes in characters who are at their wit's end and have horrible things going on in their lives, he's picture perfect in his presentation."
• Interview: Tom Spurgeon interviews editor and fan Marc Sobel on living life breathing Love and Rockets at the Comics Reporter. Sobel started writing, critiquing the Hernandez Brothers work, interviewing them that led to writing and co-editing The Love and Rockets Reader and The Love and Rockets Companion, coming out next year.Sobel pondered, "I decided to read Love & Rockets in its original format and blog about each issue as a way to teach myself about one of the medium's classics while still keeping active as a writer."
• Review:Comic Book Resources counts down the Top 100 Comics of 2012 and #35 is Love and Rockets: New Stories #5. "…the Bros turned in another installment of comics that are simultaneously agonizing to witness and darkly funny while they’re serving up stone-cold dramatic situations," writes Brian Warmoth
• Plug:Gilbert Hernandez receives some attention from Sean T. Collins at Carnival of Souls in regards to upcoming Julio's Day and D&Q's Marble Season. "A now-completed collection of work he serialized during Love & Rockets‘ second volume and a pseudoautobiography, these could send him in the direction of critical and audience reappraisal that the outré sex and violence of his recent comics have denied him."
• Interview (video): As part of the 30th Anniversary celebration, Vegas Seven posted a short interview with Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez conducted at Alternative Reality Comics in Las Vegas.
• Plug: Glyn Dillon writes the Best of the Year 2012 for Forbidden Planet International and shares the love for Jaime Hernandez's God and Science. "I'm not really a fan of the super hero genre, but he delivers it in such a fun way, it's hard to resist it's charm. It almost feels as though it's from an alternative universe, a universe where super hero comics are good."
• Review:The Chicago Tribune gets all fancy to read our EC Library Comics: Corpse on the Imjin by Harvey Kurtzman and Came the Dawn by Wallace Wood. "Kurtzman often evinces a grim humor in these war comics, they don't elicit laughs. His beautiful line-work — thick black strokes and quick black curves — captures the grit of battle and its aftermath: Corpses reach up from rubble, cones of fire erupt from gun barrels." Michael Robbins continues, "Wood's alternately claustrophobic and desolate brushwork lurches into life: spreading puddles and slanting rain, Rock Hudson jawlines and Jane Wyman curves, vertiginous angles, hallucinatory things with too many eyes."
•Plug:NO releases its Best Comics of 2012 list and Sean T Collins recommends Prison Pit 4 by Johnny Ryan. "Choose your monsters-transforming-and-pursuing-ultimate-murder poison: if you favour grossness, reality-breaking sci-fi and heavy manga inflections, go with Ryan."
• Plug:Michael Kupperman'sTales Designed to Thrizzle #8 is ranked 81 out of the Top 100 Comics of 2012 according to Comic Book Resources. "The latest 'Tales Designed to Thrizzle' very well might be the funniest edition of the annual comic yet! Kupperman's outrageously unpredictable sense of humor is on full force in this issue" states Brian Cronin. Cronin's own Top 10 Comics of 2012 listed Kupperman at #4.
• Review:Comic Attack bangs out the Best 15 All-Ages Titles of 2012. Hal Foster's Prince Valiant is on the list as Drew says "the detail and quality of the art alone along with the more literary form of narration provided the base and inspiration for dozens of artists and imitators after that, all these years still being just as entertaining as when first published, here from Fantagraphics never looking as good as collected before."
• Review: Nick Hanover of Comics Bulletin sits awhile with Tom Kaczynski's new book. Beta Testing the Apocalypse "is weird as all fuck and funny as all shit, a Singles Going Steady for the art comix crowd that merges Burroughs' cut-up commentary with Ballard's keen tech consumer insight and siliconic wit…is where we should be looking if we want to know what comes next, if we want to discern which hip priest had their ear closer to the ground."
• Interview:The Comics Journal's Tim Holder interviews Tom Kaczynski (cartoonist of Beta Testing the Apocalypse)on his comics and publishing endeavors.
• Plug: Jade at the D&Q Bookstore holds onto some serious love for Lilli Carré's Heads or Tails. "Her stories always incorporate some sense of magic realism, where bizarre occurrences are treated as if they were just another aspect of daily life. Equally impressive is Carré’s artistic versatility, always finding the appropriate style, palette and medium to tell her dreamy tales."
• Review:Cosmic Comix reviews The Crackle of the Frost by Mattotti and Zentner. "The story itself is amazing. It’s a story about loneliness, loss, and, most of all, fear…It’s a rare feat in which the words, although separate from the picture, are in perfect synch with it… If you are looking for a book that truly pushes the comics medium, then this is the book for you," writes David Lee.
•Review: Music magazine Ugly Things Issue 34 reviews Kevin Avery's book. Alan Bisbort writes "Everything is an Afterthought would, in another age, be considered 'essential reading' for anyone even remotely hip…these bokos remind us of how deeply some people cared for the music and its larger pop culture that many of us now take for granted."
• Plug: Geekosystem has suggestions for our 20% sale like Joe Sacco's book. "Safe Area Gorazde is a great introduction to his work and to the concept of comics journalism as a whole. This new special edition with notes from the author, updates on the characters, and a behind the scenes look at the creative process is must-own material.
• Plug: Geekosystem has suggestions for our 20% sale like I Shall Destroy All Civilized Planets by Fletcher Hanks. "Weirdness on the highest scale prevails in these collections…these delightfully strange relics deserve a place in the library of any comics art history completist or student of the medium."
• Plug: Filth and Fabulations looks at books for 2013 and The Astonishing Exploits of Lucien Brindavoine by Jacques Tardi is on there. "This book is perhaps a slightly less mature piece than some of Tardi's later self-authored work, but it is filled with a vibrancy and a dark humor that makes it a thing not to be missed, especially so for those who enjoy his amusing riffs on traditional genre pastiches, with a nice dose of violence and sarcasm thrown in". In addition to Goddamn this War! by Tardi and Jean-Pierre Verney. "It looks very promising, and seems to be more of a single narrative spanning the entirety of the war, rather than the looser vignette-style format of the earlier book."
The last peanut of a day of Online Commentaries & Diversions aka the news you missed while present shopping, latke eating and flying:
• Review: The Comics Journal and Rucker crack the two books focusing on Malcom McNeill and William S. Burrough's artistic collaboration, Observed While Falling (the memoir) and The Lost Art of Ah Pook is Here. (the art book) "The art is awesome, the memoir is engaging. . .Ah Pook is in a characteristic style of Burroughs’s middle period. He mixes a true-adventure story with bitter anti-establishment scenarios, gay sexual fantasies, science-fictional visualizations of chimerical mutants, and apocalyptic visions of a biological plague. . .The results are staggering—the best pictures of dicks that I’ve ever seen. . . ."
On the memoir "One of the pleasures of McNeill’s memoir, Observed While Falling, is reading about hear about his conversations with Burroughs. Old Bill laid down some tasty aphorisms. . . Ah Pook is a word/image virus. Study these new books and enjoy the disease."
• Interview:Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez of Love and Rockets are interviewed by Tim Hodler, Dan Nadel and Frank Santoro on The Comics Journal. Jaime talks about becoming more popular cartoonists, "So Gilbert and I kind of set up our own ground where we go. We go, you love Raw? Raw’s East Coast? Love and Rockets is West Coast. And they go, 'So West Coast is primitive and old-fashioned?' Fine. It’s not art school."
• Review:Comics Alliance features several of our box sets on their Holiday Gift Guide: Deluxe Editions. On the Love and Rockets Library Collection, by Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez Andy Khouri states, “This indie comics mainstay has been going for nearly 30 years, making Love and Rockets as intimidating to some new readers as even the densest superhero mythologies. Luckily, Fantagraphics has made the Los Bros Hernandez saga about a massive cast of startlingly lifelike characters digestible in the form of affordable reprint volumes published in chronological order."
• Review: Douglas Wolk reviews Harvey Kurtzman’s EC stories in Corpse on the Imjin! for the New York Times. "Kurtzman’s writing could be bombastic — nearly all of these stories’ titles end in exclamation points — but, as the United States became mired in the Korean War, his reeling disgust at the horrors of war (and his thick, slashing brush strokes) made for shockingly bold rhetoric."
•Review:The Atlantic lists Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910-2010 by Michael Kupperman as one of The Best Books I Read This Year. Chris Heller says "Kupperman’s brilliance isn’t just in his humor, though. Mark Twain’s Autobiography is meant to be read in small doses, no more than half a dozen pages at a time. Trust me: You don’t want to gorge on a book that’s this weirdly amusing. But after a peek into Kupperman’s hysterically twisted mind, you’ll keep wanting to go back for more."
• Review:Comics Bulletin releases its 2012 Best Graphic Novel List and The Hypo by Noah Van Sciver makes it. "Van Sciver's toolkit includes the pens and pins of pathos and pain, self-doubt and angst, as much as it contains determination and fortitude. The Lincoln of The Hypo transcends his time, place, and even (or maybe especially) his name. . . It stands as a true example of the capabilities of this medium to deliver stories in a truly visceral manner," writes Daniel Elkin.
• Review:Unshelved comics review The Hypo by Noah Van Sciver. Gene Ambaum writes,"The mood of Lincoln’s life in Springfield, Illinois, is well-expressed via the rough-hewn, cross-hatched skies, floorboards, and backgrounds."
• Review: Tim Callahan has nothing but love for Spacehawkby Basil Wolverton on Comic Book Resources. He states, "Wolverton's world is a weird and ugly and beautifully innocently horrible charmingly delightful one, and it has more in common with the absurd genre riffs from something like Pendleton Ward's Adventure Time or Jesse Moynihan's Forming or Tom Gauld's Goliath than it does the bland superhero melodrama of 'Marvel Mystery Comics'."
• Review:Comics Bulletin's Favorite Reprints Books of 2012 include Gary Panter's Dal Tokyo and our Carl Barks reprints. In reference to Carl Barks' Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck, "I would not hesitate to say that Fantagraphics’ reprints of Barks’ Duck comics may very well be the best collection series that any comic company is doing today! . . Each story is funny, smart and just plain fun and Fantagraphics treat each and every panel on the page with care and detail," states Nick Boisson. Jason Sacks writes "[Dal Tokyo is] a freaking godsend from the reprint editors at Fantagraphics because it unearthed an amazing, surreal, brilliant lost classic that's like an artifact from some amazing parallel dimension.. . Readers are asked to bring our perceptions to these pages, to bring our intelligence and passion and appreciation for abstraction and love for everything that feels different and yet the same as everyday life."
• Review:School Library Journal files Walt Disney's Donald Duck: A Christmas for Shacktownby Carl Barks in the Dewey (Huey and Louey) decimal of their hearts. J. Caleb Mozzocco says "[It] features another 200 pages of master cartooning from 'The Good Duck Artist' in a nicely produced bookshelf- or backpack-ready hardcover edition. . . the Barks books are great comics for kids and adult fans of the medium."
• Review: Uncle Scrooge: Only a Poor Old Man makes the Best of or Our Favorite Books of 2012 list on the Village Voice. Alan Scherstuhlstates, “Sprightly, inventive, wise, and more exciting than 60-year-old-duck tales should be, Barks's work already stands at the top of any list of history's greatest comics. It should also rank high among stories, period.”
• Review:Brooklyn Based thinks Sexytime edited by Jacques Boyreau is for youand suggests books for reading and giving. "This book is a journey into the aesthetic of porn," states Jon Reiss.
• Interview: Alex Dueben interviews Lilli Carré on Comic Book Resources about comics and animation. "I loved designing and arranging the [Heads or Tails]. Figuring out which pieces to include and the best order for them took quite a while, since I wanted each story to speak to the one before and after it, and to have a good flow despite the shift in styles. It was like making a high-stakes mix tape."
• Review: North Adams Transcript and John Seven look at Heads or Tails by Lilli Carré. "The multi-faceted Lilli Carre -- author, illustrator, animator -- presents stories that are as gentle as they are cryptic, in which the darkness of her themes meld perfectly with the sweetness of her style. . .Carre’s short work is collected and celebrated, revealing a creator of power, easily on the level with lauded types like Chris Ware."
• Review:Hooded Utilitarian makes it through Josh Simmons' The Furry Trap (probably with all the lights on in the house). James Romberger writes it is “packed cover to cover with shudders that cannot be anticipated, that grow worse as they progressively become less clearly defined. The last narrative is the most frightening because it is a straightforwardly articulated bit of cinematography on paper that, as with the most effective of suspenseful creations, gains in impact from what is never shown, the reader’s mind having already been prepared by the foregoing tales to expect the worst.”
• Review:Comics Alliance features several of our box sets on their Holiday Gift Guide: Deluxe Editions. On The Complete Peanuts Collection box setsby Charles M Schulz. Andy Khouri writes, “Reprinted in chronological order with the highest production values, any one of these books would make an auspicious addition to any bookshelf.”
• Review:School Library Journal looks at Charlie Brown’s Christmas Stocking by Charles M. Schulz. J. Caleb Mozzocco says, "Schulz’s Peanuts has always been unique in its ability to speak to audiences of adults and children simultaneously. . . Nice then to have a comic that can speak to kids, adults and the little kids the adults used to be all at the same time—even if only for a quick 40 pages or so."
• Review: HeroesOnline looks at The Complete Syndicated Pogo Vol. 2 "Bona Fide Balderdash" by Walt Kelly. “Pogo certainly belongs on any informed list of the top 5 newspaper comic strips of all time. The artwork is stunning, the pacing is fast, the characters simply come alive on the page; the plot-lines are crazy and labyrinthine and above all hilarious . . . Fantagraphics does the Kelly oeuvre proud with beautiful production values and insightful introductory material,” states Andy Mansell.
• Review:Dungeon Quest 3 by Joe Daly is the Best ofYear 2012 on the Forbidden Planet International site.Clark Burscough writes, “Deceptively simple looking artwork contains hidden depths, and the mythology that Joe Daly is building up around these characters and their world is starting to get properly out there.. . And on top of that – it’s laugh out loud funny. I can’t go into precisely why, because it’s also laugh out loud filthy. Something for everyone in these books.”
• Interview:Comic Book Resources and Alex Dueben interview James Romberger on his collaboration of 7 Miles a Second (and Post York). On his love of New York-centric books, “It is strange that I'll get used to an aspect of the landscape, but so often, I will come out to find it gone and replaced with something completely different. Still, I also love that shifting quality and the multiculturalism of the city; it is my primary subject,” says Romberger.
• Review:Listen, Whitey!on NPR Music for its MUSIC compilation. Matt Sullivan, assistant to author Pat Thomas, talks to Michaelangeo Matos about the project to accompany the book. "There's no way that Sony or EMI were going to [automatically] say yes to the Bob Dylan or John & Yoko tracks, because they get those requests all day. Years ago, Pat went to Bob Dylan's office and got those guys to approve it. The same thing with Yoko. . ."
• Plug: Speaking of 2013, Johanna Draper Carlson of Comics Worth Reading can't wait for Pretty in Ink: American Women Cartoonists by Trina Robbins to come out!
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.
"Oh man, so much great stuff to splurge on this week. Let's start withSpacehawk, Basil Wolverton's fabulous, fantabulous astronaut superhero from the alleged Golden Age. Lots of bizarre aliens and shifty-eyed villains in this one. Then there's the second volume of Ernie Bushmiller'sNancy (which I praised... the other week), and the second volume of Walt Kelly's Pogo Possum, Bona Fide Balderdash." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"It's a great book...a perfect book. In an ideal world, this is what you'd find in hotel rooms instead of Gideon Bibles. This is far better than what the world deserves...well, I deserve it, at any rate — I'm not sure about the rest of you. But you should get a copy anyway." – Mike Sterling
664-page black & white/color 11.5" x 9.5" x 3" two-volume slipcased hardcover set • $69.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-629-4
"As is so often the case, my splurge would be from Fantagraphics: The second volume of Pogo: The Complete Syndicated Comic Strips, a steal at $39.99. I’m old enough to remember when Pogo ran in the Sunday paper, although I never understood it then. Later on, I picked up some of the paperbacks and really came to appreciate Walt Kelly’s sense of humor. I’d love to read them all." – Brigid Alverson, Robot 6
"Pogo certainly belongs on any informed list of the top 5 newspaper comic strips of all time. The artwork is stunning, the pacing is fast, the characters simply come alive on the page; the plot-lines are crazy and labyrinthine and above all hilarious. The dialog is pitch perfect – even the lettering ads to the strips characterizations and somehow, along the way, you will learn quite a bit about potent political satire especially as the specter of McCarthyism weighed down on life in 1950s America. The comics really are that good and Fantagraphics does the Kelly oeuvre proud with beautiful production values and insightful introductory material. Buy this book – or put it on your Christmas wish list." – Heroes Aren't Hard to Find "Staff Picks"
"Fans of lush cartooning and wordplay... — not really exclusive tribes there — can satiate themselves with Pogo - The Complete Syndicated Comic Strips Vol. 2: "Bona Fide Balderdash", which I'm told ain't malarkey." – Joe McCulloch, The Comics Journal
"I picked up Fantagraphics’ Spacehawk Halloween mini-comic this year and selfishly did not give it to a Trick or Treater, because I loved how strange and awesome Basil Wolverton’s pulpy space comic is. That’s why I’m splurging on the full Spacehawk collection ($39.99) this week." – Michael May, Robot 6
"All who hungered for an enormous 9.25" x 13" color softcover compiling the entirety of Basil Wolverton's Spacehawk will have their fill in this latecoming Best of 2012 Reprint Project, I'm not kidding." – Joe McCulloch, The Comics Journal
The cutest Carré animation of Online Commentaries & Diversions*:
• Review: Chris Sims on Comics Alliance looks at the first story (and title story) of the latest Carl Barks collection: Walt Disney's Donald Duck "A Christmas for Shacktown." Sims says, "At 32 pages, it's a sprawling epic (By Barks' standards, anyway) that hits those beautiful Holiday themes of altruism and the spirit of giving. Although to be fair, it does get a little closer to cannibalism than most other Christmas comics.
• Review: Speaking of Christmas comics, John Seven of the North Adams Transcript reads Charlie Brown's Christmas Stocking by Charles M. Schulz. "As with the best of Schulz's work, the humor alternates between deadpan and over the top, and the presentation of religion and holidays both is both irreverent and respectful at the same time. Schulz was a multi-faceted writer and could tackle contradictions through great simplicity. Charlie Brown's Christmas Stocking stands as gift from the past that is greater than the size of the package. It's a real treasure."
• Review (audio):Comic Books are Burning in Hell take you on a whirlwind, family road-trip of a podcast review of Gary Panter, Dal Tokyo and his occasional critics (Andrew Arnold). "Panter is very good at drawing altered states." "What was loose, scrappy and punk rock becomes much tighter." "The later stuff in here is the quote, unquote nicest drawing Gary has ever done, most acceptable comicswise." The evolution of one man's comics.
• Plug: Creator of Barack Hussein Obama, Steven Weissman, runs around looking for vintage comics with Love and Rockets co-creator, Mario Hernandez at the Comics Alliance. Need a hot tip? "They stick a lot old stuff in between the new stuff so I always look for the brown spines,"says Mario.
• Review:On the North Adams Transcript, John Seven enjoys Charles Forsman, Oily Comics and The End of the Fucking World. "When I started, I didn't have a real plan for [TEOTFW]," Forsman said. "I just wanted it to be fun. After laboring over the other book, I wanted to have fun again, because when you're working on something for awhile, you can get bogged down in the details."
• Review:Filth and Fabulations includes Dungeon Quest 3 by Joe Daly in a Best of 2012 list. "The riffing on classic roleplaying tropes is often hilarious, but the true comedic brilliance of the series lies in the way Daly writes the often drawn out pages of dialogue between the main characters. He manages to capture the way people talk in real life perfectly."
• Review:MTV Geek's Best of Graphic Novel 2012 List includes Athos in America by Jason. "A series of short stories that put Jason's insecurities and imperfections on display in an occassionally uncomfortable and frequently moving way," states Eddie Wright.
• Review:MTV Geek's Best of Graphic Novel 2012 List counts Noah Van Sciver's The Hypo as Numbah One! "A big-budget movie can't capture the subtlety of Lincoln's personality like it's done here," states Valerie. Eddie Wright chimes in and says, "In Van Sciver's well-researched, moving portrait of the troubled president, he's painted as a nuanced, difficult, intriguing and most of all, human figure."
• Review: Noah Bertlatksy of The Hooded Utilitarian looks at Johnny Ryan's Prison Pit 4, the importance of genitals in an invulnerable society. "Prison Pit is a hyberbolic, endless series of incredibly gruesome, pointless, testosterone-fueled battles with muscles and bodily fluids spurting copiously in every direction. . . everybody, everywhere, is a sack of more or less constantly violated meat, to whom gender is epoxied (literally, in this sequence) as a means of more fully realizing the work of degradation."
• Plug: David Allen of the Daily Bulletin takes a look at all the comic strip reprints out currently, ready to read Pogo: The Complete Syndicated Strips Vol. 2 "Bona Fide Balderdash" by Walt Kelly. "Through his nonsense-spouting critters in the Okefenokee swamp, Kelly often satirized government and national politics, taking on the Red Scare and coining the phrase "We have met the enemy and he is us. But 'Pogo' also had slapstick combined with wordplay and whimsy. Nice to have 'Pogo' back."
R.C. Harvey, who seemingly knows everything about everything, once again shared the expanse of his knowledge in his annotations for our latest collection of Walt Kelly's Pogo strips and once again we had to bleed the red pen dry and carve Harv's original text down considerably from the original 10,000 (or so) words to print it in the allotted space in Pogo: The Complete Syndicated Comic Strips Vol. 2 - Bona Fide Balderdash. But again, since the internet knows no such space limitations, we are pleased to present the unadulterated, unedited Harv here on our website. (And if you've just picked up the new box set of Vols. 1 and 2, you can find his unexpurgated Vol. 1 notes here.)
So get comfy, maybe fix yourself a nice mug of cocoa. We'll start with the intro here, and then you can carry on to the notes themselves. If you know Harv, you know that his loquaciousness and erudition is matched only by his delightfully readable prose. Enjoy! – Ed.
Swamp Talk Annotations and Historical Data By R.C. Harvey
lthough celebrated for his political allegory and satire, Walt Kelly laced Pogo with allusions to other aspects of contemporary life in America, plus literary references and snatches of poetry. In our less than literate society of 140-character communiques, many of Kelly’s nods at literature are obscure to the point of irrelevance, and the targets of much of his political sniping are no longer visible: sixty years after the fact, the events he so gleefully mocked have long been forgotten. My assignment here at the back of the book is to pull back the veil that the passage of time has drawn over the Pogo proceedings by reminding us of some of those things we’ve lost sight of.
Harmless drudgery though it is, I take heart at the words of comics afficionado and cartooner Clay Geerdes, who once said: “Probably only a handful of people, cartoonists among them, understand the many levels Kelly worked on in a single strip. He was to comics what William Faulkner was to the psychological novel” — an insight that doubtless justifies a few more generations of copiously footnoted articles about Pogo.
And so I plunge once again to a swirl of elucidation (clarifying explanation) the tedium of which will no doubt yield an ennui (listless boredom) greater than the enervating (paralyzing) effect of the bafflement that might otherwise prevail.
The period embraced by this volume (1951-52) provides a happy sample of the sort of crowd-pleasing antics that Kelly was staging in those days just before he turned the spotlight on political commentary; instead, we have unrelenting vaudevillian nonsense, mostly untinged by any topicalities whatsoever. His objective, he said, was to be funny. "I come from a school of old-time cartooning," he went on. "In the old days, we tried to make a buck out of drawing. I go after whatever seems funny to me."
In his pursuit of funny, Kelly eschewed plots. Plots, to Kelly, were not realistic. "The plot is an invention of storytellers," he said. And if none of his characters ever accomplishes anything or achieves whatever goal may have inspired the commencement of an action, that's realistic. "There are no pay-offs in real life," Kelly explained. "Besides, it always rings untrue when you try to wind up with a specific conclusion."
Consequently (in case you haven't noticed already), in Pogo things happen in much the same fashion as a ball of yarn unravels if rolled across the floor by a playful kitten. Pogo and the rest of "nature's screechers" that populate the swamp may begin with one thing in mind, but they are easily distracted (by misapprehended speeches or actions, by puns or other word play, by the arrival of a newcomer in their midst) into following an internal logic of their own that bears little or no resemblance to the meaning the rest of us fabricate for the world around us. And all the time, Kelly was honing his skill at political satire — as we can see in the pages to the fore, illuminated, we trust, by these notes at the aft. We begin with the daily strips; then, the Sundays.
The most symmetrical cake slice of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review:Publishers Weekly occasionally lets smart and famous people recommend books. Jeopardy Master Ken Jennings "skipped the obvious Marjane Satrapi and Alison Bechdel entries in favor of this lesser-known three-volume masterpiece, about Tyler’s complicated relationship with her distant dad, a World War II vet. With her playful, fluid brush line and busy patchwork of watercolor woodgrain, Tyler’s art looks like the past feels." Carol Tyler's complete series You'll Never Know is available.
• Review:Booklist Online cooks up a review from some Pogo (The Complete Syndicated Comic Strips Vol. 2: "Bona Fide Balderdash"). Ian Chipman writes, "[Walt Kelly's] hallmarks of deft wordplay, daft swamp critters, and poisonously sharp sociopolitical satire are in full blossom here. The highlight is the 1952 election season that saw Pogo’s first and entirely reluctant presidential run and the birth of the “I Go Pogo” slogan. Mimicking “I Like Ike. . . A must for all collections of comic-strip history."
• Plug:Forces of Geek throws out some good gift recommendations for kidslike Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge "Only a Poor Old Man"by Carl Barks. "Comic books have always been an excellent gateway into reading, and when it comes to smart, imaginative and engaging, you don't have to go much further than Carl Barks. . . What better way to introduce your own Huey, Dewey or Louie to comics?"
• Review:Paste Magazines's 10 Best Collections of 2012 include two Fantagraphics titles. Hillary Brown loved Young Romance, by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby edited by Michel Gagné who "painstakingly restored them (without making them look exactly new, thus giving the book the feel of a vintage compilation that just happens to be in amazing shape). . . Simon and Kirby tried to bring as much excitement to primarily psychological and interpersonal goings-on as to punching and flying." And this might be the last year anything by Carl Barks is on the list, "We’ll just grant it permanent honorary status as the best of the best, like when John Larroquette removed himself from Emmy consideration after winning four straight for Night Court. . . [Walt Disney's Donald Duck "A Christmas for Shacktown] once again proves Barks to be one of the finest draftsmen and storytellers we’ve ever had." Well put, Garrett Martin.
• Plug:The Scotsman lists some of the Best of 2012 as told by the best scotsman. Withered Hand's singer/songwriter Dan Willson has eyes only for Ron Rege, Jr. and states, "[The] Cartoon Utopia , his magnum opus, is quite a head-trip. Thousands of very dense little drawings and words resemble a psychedelic illuminated manuscript peppered with themes of spiritual redemption and good versus evil. It’s a very unusual and beautiful work."
• Plug: From Boing Boing's list of the Best Damn Comics of 2012, compiled by Brian Heater. On Ron Rege Jr.'s The Cartoon Utopia , "The first esoteric text of the new century. The harbinger of the New Aeon. This book will be a staple of Esoteric Lore for millennia to come."
• Plug:Boing Boing makes my job easy by providing the Best Damn Comics of 2012. Compiled by Brian Heater, a lot of creative people offered up their favorite books of the year. Nick Abadzis thinks Kolor Klimax (edited by Matthias Wivel), "feels startling and vital to me and features a wide variety of styles, each as absorbing as all the others contained within these pages. I don't think I've enjoyed an anthology as much as this one in years."
• Plug: From Boing Boing's list of the Best Damn Comics of 2012, compiled by Brian Heater. Box Brown on Barack Hussein Obama, "Steven Weissman does stuff with actual analog comic materials that most dudes can't even do with photoshop." Jeffrey Brown chimes in on BHO, "Strange, funny and beautiful. Weissman reinvents his comics with the kind of book I wish I would make." Will Dinksi agrees, "Barack Hussein Obama is pretty much my favorite book of the year. . . I get a better appreciation for Weissman's craft in the printed collection where it can feel like you're actually looking at the finished artwork." Mari Naomi says,"I just love what this book is. If I didn't know better, I wouldn't even recognize this as Weissman. And I like that."
• Review:Paris Review checks out The Last Vispo, edited by Nico Vassilakis and Crag Hill. Nicole Rudick states,"it makes sense that in visual form poetry would elicit a kind of motion, an unfolding over the space of a page, and that even its sound would be voiced as a series of discoveries. Movement disrupts the continuity of a sentence, a phrase, a word. And language, unsettled, is unbound."
• Plug: From Boing Boing's list of the Best Damn Comics of 2012, compiled by Brian Heater. Box Brown continues to wax poetic on Josh Simmons' The Furry Trap, "Funny, even as it makes your hair stand on end and your skin start to crawl... Horror comics that gash their way below the surface."
• Plug: From Boing Boing's list of the Best Damn Comics of 2012, compiled by Brian Heater. Shaenon K. Garrity says that The Heart of Thomas by Moto Hagio "is a book I've been awaiting for over ten years, and it exceeds my expectations."
• Plug: From Boing Boing's list of the Best Damn Comics of 2012, compiled by Brian Heater. Nate Powell on Interiorae by Gabriella Giandelli, is "just what I look for in a narrative: patient, dreamy, full of seemingly endless layers of shadow, slowly revealing the sweetness inside the rotten, all within the confines of a single high-rise apartment building, surrounded by snow and static."
• Review:Slate finds themselves choosing Heads or Tails, going for broke. Dan Kois says, "Lilli Carré’s short stories are dreamy, unlikely, and unsettling. What transforms the stories from nightmares to fables is Carré’s artwork, which varies with each story. . ."
• Review:Page 45 looks at Heads or Tails by Lilli Carré. "The art reminds me a little of Lynda Barry and the flow of the pages reminded me a little of Walt Holcombe. . .I recently recommended this book to a customer who named their favourite film as Amelie (good choice!) precisely because it has that feeling of whimsy about it."
• Plug: From Boing Boing's list of the Best Damn Comics of 2012, compiled by Brian Heater. Jeremy Tinder on Heads or Tails by Lilli Carré, "A nice encapsulation of many of the ways Lilli has been pushing herself both narratively and stylistically over the last few years. If only there was a way to squeeze her animation in there too." Will Dinksi comments on Heads or Tails by Lilli Carré, "Beautiful artwork. Thoughtfully paced. "Of The Essence" is one of the best comic book short stories I've ever read."
• Plug: From Boing Boing's list of the Best Damn Comics of 2012, compiled by Brian Heater. Robert Kirby on No Straight Lines edited by Justin Hall, "Long overdue, this beautifully-produced, sharply edited retrospective may usher in a new era of respect and recognition for a long-neglected realm of the alt-comics world."
• Review:Nate's Broadcast enjoyed The Hypo by Noah Van Sciver in addition to the recent film, Lincoln, and book America Aflame. "Van Sciver’s contribution to the Lincoln mythology is perfect for those who like their heroes a little troubled and messy, but good at their core- not a bad way to interpret the American ideal."
• Plug: From Boing Boing's list of the Best Damn Comics of 2012, compiled by Brian Heater. Will Dinski continues with The Hypo. "[Noah] Van Sciver is pretty prolific, but this is his best work to date. The line art just drips with anguish." Brian Heater thinks it "puts the cartoonist's brimming angst to a different use entirely, in a book that does precisely what a good piece of historical non-fiction should: finding a fascinating way to tell a story we were convinced we already knew."
• Review: Blacklung by Chris Wright is whittled on by Tucker Stone at TCJ. It's called "the big, trippy brother to Drew Weing’s Segar influenced Set To Sea. . . . [and] Gore saturates this comic. . . Brutality for its own sake is the point of some entertaining movies, no reason it can’t be the point of some entertaining comics as well."
• Review: On Filth and Fabulations, Jeppe Mulich states that Chris Wright's "[Blacklung is] not a work of splatter punk or mindless gore, but rather an engaging, breathless, and humorous tale of the dregs of the sea, including a colorful assortment of pirates and madmen, quite clearly drawing inspiration from both Melville, Stevenson and Peckinpah."
• Review: Paste Magazine reviews Charlie Brown's Christmas Stocking by Charles M. Schulz. "Seeing this work isolated and expanded only reinforces the sheer timelessness and brilliance inherent; Schulz was a master of mood and line in equal measure. . . it’s some of the finest nostalgia porn you can put under the tree," quips Sean Edgar.
•Review:Pheonix New Times unwraps their present early and Jason P. Woodbury interviews Nat Gertler on Charlie Brown's Christmas Stocking by Charles M Schulz. "[Schulz] had done a Christmas book, Christmas is Together-Time, using red and green," Gertler says, explaining the minimal color palette. "We wanted to keep that simplicity and Christmas-sense in there." The stable of Schulz characters transcend fads and time because as Gertler points out "It's not the way kids talk, but they way they feel is the way that kids feel."
• Plug:Drawn blog tops off another the Best of 2012 list with some Ernie Bushmiller. John Martz points out, "Nancy seems to be a love-it-or-leave-it strip, and I am firmly in the Love It camp. . . Often surreal, and always impeccably drawn, there is nothing quite like it. . . these books are a virtual masterclass in cartooning."
• Review: From Boing Boing's list of the Best Damn Comics of 2012, compiled by Brian Heater. Tom Kaczynski on Ernie Bushmiller's Nancy is Happy, "The minimalism of the art, the quirky humor, the amazing consistency, it all started with these strips."
• Review: Getting ready for the hardback release of Delphine by Richard Sala, Carrie Cuinn of SF Portal reviews the tale complete with "dark duotone inking style, little dialogue, and gothic, shadowy, art. . . Overall I think that Sala’s retelling of that well-known love story is affectingly tragic. . . It is, in a word, creepy."
• Review: If MTV Geek knows about The End of the Fucking World then the secret is out: Charles Forsman is amazing! "[It] pulls you in like no other comic this year. Stunning in its simplicity and brave in its subject matter. Charles Forsman is a future force. . . [it] is like stumbling onto the ultimate secret in comic books, but based on how great TEOTFW is, it won't be much a secret longer."
• Review: Ashley over at Bibliophibien looks at Wandering Son series by Shimura Takako, "While the story is focused on transgender topics, I think that this is a wonderfully moving coming-of-age story and captures the complexities of sexual identity, friendships, and family that teens face."
• Review: Rick Klaw at SF Site enjoys the glossy glory of Action! Mystery! Thrills!, edited by Greg Sadowski. "As in his previous volumes. . . Sadowski supplies copious end notes and annotations. Though this time, the information additionally reads as an entertaining history of early comics. . . Sadowski once again delivers an essential book for anyone with an interest in comics history."
• Plug: John McMurtrie of SF Gate (San Francisco Gate) lists Listen, Whitey! by Pat Thomas as one of the Music Books to Buy of 2012.