It's official! Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery will be celebrating its 5th anniversary on Saturday, December 10 with an exhibition of Walt Kelly's original Pogo artwork. Look for a dozen dailies and several Sundays along with some appropriately swampy musical entertainment. Save the date and make your way to the bookstore where you will, indeed, be "confronted with insurmountable opportunities."
• Feature: At Maclean's, Jaime Weinman gets to the bottom of Pogo - Vol. 1 of the Complete Syndicated Comic Strips: Through the Wild Blue Wonder, talking to co-editor Kim Thompson and calling the volume "the first book that gives a full sense of what it was like to read Kelly’s pioneering strip from the beginning. The first volume goes up to 1950, when Kelly began to incorporate more pointed humour...; the McCarthy character hasn’t shown up yet, but allegories about Communist witch-hunting already pop up. But the darker daily strips alternate with cheerful Sunday installments, demonstrating that Kelly never lost his sense of charm and whimsy. And it helps that because of the book format, what San Francisco Chronicle columnist Jon Carroll called Kelly’s 'love of high-flown language' is more legible than it often was in newspapers."
• Review: "...Kevin Huizenga's latest volume of Ganges [is] a work that is so inventive and playful and thoughtful and that offers such a breathtaking level of technical virtuosity that it makes me want to climb up onto a rooftop and scream at the top of my voice 'COMICS ARE FUCKING AWESOME' like some sort of lovesick geeky schoolboy in a bad 1980s teen comedy asking the prom queen to date him." – Jason Sacks, Comics Bulletin
• Plug: Mark Kaufman spotlights Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910-2010 by Michael Kupperman at Illustration Age: "The very much alive Samuel Clemens’ story is told from WWI to the present. Twain details his careers as an ad man, astronaut, hypnotist, Yeti hunter, porn star, drifter, grifter and more. Find out why this book has been getting rave reviews from NPR to The Hollywood Reporter to Andy Richter’s Twitter stream."
• Review: "Every now and then, if I’m lucky, I might just bump into a stone cold masterpiece. The kind of art that makes you just want to shout and scream it is so good. So, in the interest of doing just that, let me say that this Jaime Hernandez’s 'The Love Bunglers' (Love and Rockets: New Stories no. 4) is such a work. I don’t even need to qualify it for myself (i.e. 'what’s coming later; what’s come before; shouldn’t there be a cooling period?') when I say: This is not just Jaime’s finest work, but one of the best (at this moment I’d rank it in my top five of all time) works ever created in the medium. You can hold that over me in twenty years and I’ll still be right..." – Dan Nadel, The Comics Journal [SPOILER WARNING]
• Review: "Jaime Hernandez is my favorite cartoonist. I think he is the greatest cartoonist of all time. My opinion.... No art moves me the way the work of Jaime Hernandez moves me. I am in awe of his eternal mystery." – Frank Santoro, The Comics Journal
• Review: "I picked up a copy of the new issue at a signing Jaime was doing here in Brooklyn a few weeks ago. It was a packed house, and there were a lot of people I was happy to talk to. Amidst all the socializing, I allowed myself a quick glimpse inside the comic, and when I randomly flipped to pages 92 and 93, I felt like I’d been blind-sided. I had to look closer to make sure I was seeing what I thought I was seeing." – Adrian Tomine, The Comics Journal
• Commentary:Robot 6's Sean T. Collins spotlights the above TCJ links, saying "Paying off thirty years of continuity and character development. Delivering shocks, gasps, cheers, and tears in equal measure, seemingly at the author’s whim. Offering a master class in everything from laying out a double-page spread to drawing clothes. Telling a story about beloved characters so emotionally engaging that even their most ardent fans wouldn’t mind if this were the last one ever told. Any way you slice it, Jaime Hernandez's 'The Love Bunglers' — his contribution to the recently released Love and Rockets: New Stories #4 and the conclusion to the already wildly acclaimed 'The Love Bunglers'/'Browntown' suite from last year’s issue — is a hell of a comic. But you don’t have to take my word for it."
• Review: "As I finished reading Love and Rockets: New Stories #4, I had to sit back and just take a moment to take it all in and collect myself, as I know that I had just completed reading one of the greatest works in comics for 2011. Love and Rockets has been a source of inspiration within the comics industry for years, so it’s not like I’m the first one to praise the Brothers Hernandez for their contribution. But it’s even more incredible to see that after nearly 30 years, both Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez are creating some of the best comics of their careers and making them completely accessible to new readers. Love and Rockets: New Stories #4 is an achievement for the Brothers Hernandez and has earned a permanent spot on my required reading list for anyone interested in reading the great works of modern comics creators." – Ron Richards, iFanboy "Book of the Month"
• Review (Audio): "The artwork [in Pogo] is fantastic because Kelly, coming from a Disney background, had really great technical chops and he was able to put a lot of detail into a small daily strip while at the same time giving it breathing room despite the fact that the characters are quite talkative…. He crowded an awful lot into each panel without making it feel crowded, which is a neat trick. He really pulled it off well. …It's just a joy to look at, and it's so much fun to read too because the characters all have really funny personalities that are… very dimensional… It is beautifully designed by Walt Kelly's daughter Carolyn Kelly, and she and Fantagraphics did a really good job of finding all these strips… lovingly scanned and restored so that you get to see the line art in all its detailed glory…. I highly recommend it -- it's going to be one of my prize books... that I'm going to hang onto for a long time." – Mark Frauenfelder, Boing Boing "Gweek" podcast
• Review: "When you read the first volume of Fantagraphics' complete reprint of Gottfredson's Mickey Mouse — the first of its kind anywhere — you understand quickly why Disney decided to keep him on the daily strip. He was simply a natural talent." – Matthias Wivel, Nummer 9 (translated from Danish)
• Commentary: "...Jim Woodring is not one to rest on his laurels where his funny-animal protagonist Frank is concerned. Lately he’s been posting breathtaking images... to his blog on a surprisingly regular basis. They appear to show Frank up to his old mischievous tricks, and to augur another Frank book on the horizon. Check them out here and here, and marvel that a cartoonist of Woodring’s caliber is tossing these things out there for free like it ain’t no thing." – Sean T. Collins, Robot 6
We've got a gorilla-sized weekend coming up at APE: the Alternative Press Expo in beautiful San Francisco, CA! Come see us on Saturday, October 1st and Sunday, October 2nd at the Concourse Exhibition Center, and be among the first to get your mitts on these hot numbers:
You can find us in our usual spot at tables 112-115. (Right by our good friends Jim Blanchard and J.R. Williams at table 116!)
[ Please note: this is a chopped-up map, just to give you an idea where you can find us! The Concourse Exhibition Center is too wide to fit on the FLOG, so check out a PDF map here. ]
And panels! Boy, do we have panels!
Saturday, October 1st
2:00 PM // The Comix Claptrap . . . LIVE! Co-hosts Rina Ayuyang and Thien Pham record an episode of their enlightening, riotous, and controversial podcast, The Comix Claptrap LIVE at APE! For four seasons, Rina and Thien have interviewed comics artists in the indie comics scene about their work, creative processes, and experiences in the industry. Each show has included New Comics Wednesday beat reportage from fellow cartoonist Josh Frankel, and new favorite segment, The Comix Cranktrap, where they crank-call a well-known cartoonist listed in their Rolodex. Also featured on the panel: Mike Dawson, Scott Campbell, Levon Jihanian, and Esther Pearl Watson. This panel promises to be total mayhem!
3:00 PM // A Discussion with Daniel Clowes and Adrian Tomine Critically acclaimed, award-winning, bestselling cartoonists -- and APE special guests -- Daniel Clowes (The Death-Ray, Ghost World, Wilson) and Adrian Tomine (Optic Nerve, Shortcomings) are both professional peers and friends, having met over a decade ago when both lived in the East Bay. TheComicsJournal.com editor and PictureBox publisher Dan Nadel talks to the two artists about their work, their friendship, and the comics medium.
4:00 PM // Spotlight on Shannon Wheeler From stapling 21,000 minicomics, to shooting comic books with a .22, to creating operas, to publishing cartoons with The New Yorker, APE special guest Shannon Wheeler must be drinking too much coffee, man. Recently, his collection of rejected cartoons I Thought You Would Be Funnier won the Eisner Award for Best Humor Publication. Wheeler and his trusty sidekick BOOM! Studios marketing director Chip Mosher talk about the best ammunition to use on a comic, Japanese bootleg shirts, and drawing dead granddads in fishnet stockings with swastika panties. Shannon Wheeler once also created Too Much Coffee Man, so they'll probably talk about that, too.
6:00 PM // Drawing Inspiration: The Secrets of Comics Creativity Ever wonder where your favorite author or artist gets his or her inspiration? Now you can find out as moderator Charles Brownstein (executive director, CBLDF) joins APE special guests Kate Beaton (Hark! A Vagrant!), Craig Thompson (Habibi), Matthew Thurber (1-800 MICE), and Shannon Wheeler (Oil and Water), plus Tom Neely (The Wolf) for an in-depth discussion of what gets their creative juices flowing and the secrets of what inspires them.
Sunday, October 2nd
12:00 PM // Indie Cartoonist Survival Guide: Part 3 Cartoonist Keith Knight moderates this panel (in its third appearance at APE), featuring a lineup of successful independent creators who share their stories, methods, techniques, trials, and tribulations concerning making a living as a so-called Indie Cartoonist. Shannon Wheeler (I Thought You Would Be Funnier), Dan Cooney (Dan Cooney Art), Andy Ristaino (Adventure Time), and Rebecca Sugar (Pug Davis) all chime in.
The great Eric Reynolds will be manning the table, so come by and come buy! We'll see you at APE!
• Review: "...Mark Twain’s Autobiography 1910-2010 is both hilarious and very strange. The book exudes a unique mood of giddy amazement... Credit for both the mirth and oddness belong to cartoonist Michael Kupperman, who illustrated the book based on a manuscript he says was given to him by Twain. Given the fact that the off-kilter humour of the book is very similar to the sensibility displayed in Kupperman’s earlier work, notably his dada-esque comic book Tales Designed to Trizzle, the cynical might assume that Mark Twain is only the nominal author of this book. Yet it’s fair to say that the spirit of Twain hovers near the volume.... Aside from his debt to Twain, Kupperman belongs to the tradition of erudite humor that runs from Robert Benchley to Monty Python." – Jeet Heer, The National Post
• Review: "...[Eye of the Majestic Creature] is phenomenal.... The character, Larry, who is leagues more animatic and expressive than some of the characters around her (no doubt on purpose, as the character leaps out of each panel) is responsible for carrying the entire weight of the narrative through dialog. She does so fluidly, and through nuanced avenues.... I really enjoyed this collection, and I want to see more from this creator.... There is significant depth to this fantastic story about a girl, her guitar, and the quirks associated with staying alive." – Alex Jarvis, Spandexless
• Review: "Set to Sea is the kind of comic that you give to people you love with a knowing look that says 'read this, you'll thank me later.' The kind of book that is not exclusively reserved for aficionados of the comics art form. The kind of work that, by virtue of its poetry, leaves the reader in an emotional state once he's read the final page, and that simply demands to be flipped through again immediately so that the reader might breathe in this adventure's perfume for a little longer." – Thierry Lemaire, Actua BD (translated from French)
• Review: "Paul Hornschemeier uses the medium of cartooning [in The Three Paradoxes] as the message he is sending, as each new chapter in the book references different cartoon styles and axioms.... The skill of Hornschemeier is abundant on these pages, as he effortlessly transitions from style to style. Despite that, each style fits within the story; none is so strange that it breaks the reader out of the story.... The book gets a lot of information packed into its relatively smaller frame. The book’s presentation is similarly phenomenal...; it’s really solid and uniform.... I loved it. Well done, Paul." – Alex Jarvis, Spandexless
• Plug: "Fantagraphics has prepared a nice preview video for the fourth and final [Final??? Not at all — I don't know where they got that idea. – Ed.] issue of Love and Rockets: New Stories in stores soon. It features a 35-page story called ‘King Vampire’. Oh boy, if even the Hernandez bros succumb to the vampire craze, this really is the end of the world now, isn’t it?" – Frederik Hautain, Broken Frontier
• List: At his High-Low blog Rob Clough posts his belated Top 50 Books of 2010 list, with Megan Kelso's Artichoke Tales at #1, 4 of our books in the top 5, 5 in the top 10, 8 in the top 20, and 14 overall in the top 50 — it's a long but worthwhile read
• Review: "Calling Congress of the Animals recommended reading is a bit misleading. It’s definitely recommended, but it doesn’t technically involve reading. The entire book doesn’t feature a single word bubble. The only words are on the book jacket. What this is is a story told entirely through pictures — delightful pictures at that.... This was really an entertaining book. It was visually different from anything I’ve ever seen in a comic, the story was unique, and some parts were laugh out loud funny..." – Corey Pung, Panel Discussions (via Americaware)
• Review: "...Skin Deep by Charles Burns... [is a] true masterpiece in which Burns returns to choose the mechanisms and the language of grade-B horror films, crime fiction, pulp, the aesthetics of the 50's and Robert Crumb's comics to make a harsh social criticism.... Stories in which Burns continues to explore the darkest corners of the human condition while keeping us on edge vignette to vignette." – Jesús Jiménez, Radio y Televisión Española (translated from Spanish)
• Review: "...[T]he adventures of a group of twenty-something New York residents, like Friends but with ethnic variation and far more realistic apartments, and, you know, actual problems. The characters of Beg the Question are surrounded by ugliness and idiocy in one of the most complicated cities in the world, yet they are decent human beings who support each other. It’s not supposed to be autobiographical, but you can tell that Fingerman has lived through many of the situations and knows the characters well." – Grant Buist, The Name of This Cartoon Is Brunswick
• Commentary: "So I just finished reading Fantagraphics’ The Complete Peanuts 1981-1982, and... the vast majority of this book was new to me, having not read previous reprintings of the strips from this period (as opposed to the near-memorization of the reprint books from the late ’70s and earlier). One of the great new features of this particular reprint series, aside from, y’know, the whole completeness of the strips reprints and all, is the index in each volume." – Mike Sterling, Mike Sterling's Progressive Ruin
• Plug: "Walt Kelly’s Pogo is one of the greatest comic strips I’ve ever read. It’s simply brilliant; quaint and sweet on the surface but deeper readings reveals layers of very smart political and social satire. And as you can clearly see, Walt Kelly’s artwork is magnificent.... Fantagraphics are presenting the entire strip, including the beautiful full colour Sunday strips for the very first time, in a series of 12 hardcover volumes that reprint approximately 2 years worth of material at a time. I guarantee that if you get Volume 1, you’ll be signing up for the remaining 11." – Richard Cowdry, The Forbidden Planet International Blog Log
• Review: "...Shimura Takako tells this story in such a gentle, unobtrusive way, one might believe that this story flows naturally – as if it simply spun itself from nature and is the way it is supposed to be. I think Matt Thorn’s tidy translation, which goes down the mental gullet with such smoothness, is a big reason for how readable this is. Wandering Son is not flashy or aggressive, nor does it pander or try to be hip and stylish. Takako draws the reader in so quietly that some may be surprised to find themselves on a journey of discovery and exploration with these characters. It’s like seeing preadolescence for the first time or seeing it again through fresh eyes and a new perspective.... If only more comic books were so evocative and so clear in their storytelling like Wandering Son, an ideal comic book. Ages 8 to 80 will like Wandering Son. [Grade] A" – Leroy Douresseaux, I Reads You
• Review: "Of the three books collected in this volume [What I Did], Hey, Wait... is a really evocative portrait of how childhood experiences can affect one throughout his entire life, and The Iron Wagon (which adapts an early-twentieth-century Norwegian novel) is a pretty good murder mystery that makes good use of Jason's deadpan style, but it's the middle entry, Sshhhh!, that really sticks with me, immediately jumping to the top of my favorites among the cartoonist's works.... It's sad, wonderful, exhilarating work, a great example of how amazing Jason is at what he does, and how nobody else can do it like him." – Matthew J. Brady, Warren Peace Sings the Blues
• Review: "The plot often takes a sharp turn towards the absurd and downright crazy, but eventually the story always comes back to our heroine. Adele Blanc-Sec takes no crap... It’s really nice to see such a strong female character at the centre of all this mayhem, and her character really pulls the book together.... Tardi’s artwork is great to look at; his panels are vibrant and full of life. In his hands Paris 1911 is a busy metropolitan city still hanging on to its 18th century spirit and facade.... The first volume ofThe Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec left me with more questions than answers, and volume 2’s release date of November seems all to far away! I look forward to reading more of Adele Blanc-Sec’s adventures." – Will Pond, Good Comic Books
• Review: "Glenn Ganges — the protagonist of the first volume of the series Ganges — is a dreamer, an eccentric, a loving husband, but first and foremost a restless man. Meaningless details do not give rest to him, he makes a mountain out of a molehill, and his fantasies replace the reality. Five stories under one cover are the five pieces of a day in the life of Ganges.... I’d like to meet this Ganges." – Ray Garraty, Endless Falls Up
• Review: "...[T]he stories [in Maggie the Mechanic], of course, suck you in, because they're absurd and funny and warm, and even though they're the kind of stories where it's not a question of whether the good guys will win, only when they will, they're well told and well plotted, and I was sad when they ended. Apparently they're meant to be the sci-fi version of magical realism, which is neat, but the dinosaurs and aliens and rocket ships were far less interesting than seeing the girls get drunk and run around, or even just try to decide what to wear. I guess Jaime came to the same conclusion, because it seems he started phasing out the sci-fi stuff shortly after the issues in this volume." – Oriana Leckert, Chicago Center for Literature and Photography
• Interview:Ain't It Cool News's Mark L. Miller (a.k.a. "Ambush Bug"), who says "I love me some Prison Pit. If you havn’t checked out this amazingly graphic comic book series, you don’t know what kick-ass really is yet," met up with Johnny Ryan at Comic-Con to talk about the series: "...I do have certain ideas that I want to hit, but I also like to be a little spontaneous too, so I’m never really sure what I’m going to come up with. Sometimes I’ll even have an idea and then when I get to the point of using the idea, I’m like 'this idea isn’t fucked up enough. I’ve got to fuck it up a bit more.' (laughs) 'I’ve got to increase the fucked uppedness about it.' So six books seems to be the goal, but depending on how I feel at that point I might continue."
Our good friend Mark Evanier, who's been providing invaluable editorial assistance on our forthcoming Walt KellyPogo collections, has posted a very informative must-read update on his blog. Long story short: Volume 1 has gone to the printer and is going to be awesome. But read Mark's entire post for many more details and a much more eloquent description of the book!
(And since we know you'll ask: no, these books will not be released in slipcased pairs à la The Complete Peanuts. They're big enough on their own!)