• Review: "[21: The Story of Roberto Clemente] is a reverent, yet sometimes playful look at the man and what he had to go through to get where he did. [...] The scenes with the various family members remind me a bit of what Gilbert Hernandez gets up to in Love and Rockets, that same sort of close-knit relationship thing. [...] Santiago’s art is cartoonish, yet expressionistic and appealingly loose. [...] He does a great job, and even the best of the best often have trouble with this, of drawing baseball players that actually look like baseball players — at bat, in the field, running, catching the ball. [...] He really captures the action of the game very well, and it’s kinda hard to describe — it’s really some daredevil storytelling at times." – Johnny Bacardi, Popdose
• Review: "After reading the first volume of Fantagraphics excellent reprinting of Hal Foster’s creation [Prince Valiant], I’m surprised at the life within this antique. It’s no surprise that the art is beautiful. Foster’s figures have a fine, illustrated detail — rarely seen on the comics page — but they’re full of energy as they joust, dive and play at swords." – James Seidler, Ape Mind Transcripts
• Profile: "[Special Exits] was fueled by Farmer's personal outrage at the unacceptable treatment of her elderly parents at the hands of medical and nursing home establishments. And she'll pooh-pooh the idea that making the book was psychological therapy of any sort. 'It was in no way cathartic. It was really, really depressing,' she told me any number of times. This is classic Joyce Farmer, drawing, writing, and satirizing taboo and socially risky subjects." – Kathleen Vanesian, Phoenix New Times
• Interview: Leah Berkenwald of Jewesses with Attitude (the blog of the Jewish Women's Archive) talks to Miss Lasko-Gross about her participation in the Graphic Details exhibit: "Q: How does your Jewish identity influence your work? L-G: I don't know that it does, but in the auto-bio game having a genetic predisposition to being a neurotic mess doesn't hurt." (Via Heeb)
"Comix Talks" is presented in association with the fledgling Fantagraphics Book Club. Additional information on the book club will be announced at the Aaron Renier/Jason Shiga appearance at the bookstore on on February 23. Watch this space for more news.
• Review: "Watch your step as we spiral further down the rabbit hole in the second volume in the King of the Flies trilogy, entitled The Origin of the World. [...] The unease that once crept through the residential basements now spreads vulture wings and takes flight. Volume 2 justifies the previous paranoia and displays it in full view... The Origin of the World's plots coil and ceaselessly shift; the characters tasting and testing one another with serpentine instincts. When the whole thing threatens to surrender under its bleakness, the last page morphs to resemble something akin to hope if the reader squints just right." – Alex Carr, Omnivoracious
• Review: "There is perhaps no better medium to capture the life of Roberto Clemente than graphic novel. After all his skill set when it came to playing the game of baseball was almost superhuman, highlighted by a throwing arm that would surely make the son of Jor-El jealous. As such, it is no surprise then that illustrator/author Wilfred Santiago’s 21 — The Story of Roberto Clemente is a must read for anyone awed by the beauty of the sport. […] This graphic novel seeks to give a proper sense of wonder and the fantastic to a player whose tragic ending is often a stark reminder or our own mortality. At that it succeeds terrifically." – Andy Smith, Bugs & Cranks
• Review: "Where Chris Ware draws a billion tiny boxes to retain his feces, [Johnny] Ryan draws borders mostly so the sewage will have something to overflow. In Prison Pit each body is a busted toilet whose stagnant water births some mangled abortion dragging its placenta over the edge of the porcelain to flop wetly on the cold tiles. [...] The protagonist fights ladydactyls, giant eye creatures, robots, toothy monsters wearing Nazi death-hosen, and his own mutinous oozing hand. But really his main enemy is Ryan himself, the artist as diabolous ex machina, squatting over his creation to spew an endless stream of venomous diarrhea." – Noah Berlatsky, The Hooded Utilitarian
• Interview:Robot 6's Chris Mautner writes: "Freeway is an impressive book from an underrated talent and I was happy for the opportunity to talk to [Mark] Kalesniko about the book and his working methods." A bit from Mark: "I used for inspiration the movie Slaughterhouse Five and how the main character, unstuck in time, bounced back and forth though out his life. Also the miniseries Singing Detective where the main character is bedridden with a skin disease and suffers from hallucinations and flashbacks. I also thought that the reader would relate to this because many of us have been stuck in traffic jams or other places where we can’t move but our mind is free to wander."
• Review: "Like WWI itself, it's difficult to summarize It Was the War of the Trenches — each moment and story is precise and poignant and devastating, and they add up to far more than the sum of their parts, but they add up as a mosaic does, with each shard forming a point of color that only makes sense from a distant perspective. [...] Tardi is one of the giants of world comics, and this is one of his strongest works, a rare combination of ability, ambition, and subject. ...It Was the War of the Trenches is immediate and moving and deeply involving from page to page, showing once again the power that comics has to both illuminate dark corners of the world and to turn them into a compelling narrative accessible to nearly everyone." – Andrew Wheeler, The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
• Feature: At The SF Site: Nexus Graphica, Rick Klaw dubs Jacques Tardi "the Martin Scorsese of European comics" and runs down his reactions to all of our recent English reprints of Tardi's work: "Before my discovery of the French artist Jacques Tardi, how did I enjoy comics?"
• Interview (Audio): Guests Jean Schulz, Nat Gertler (The Peanuts Collection) and Kevin Fagan (Drabble) discuss the legacy of Charles M. Schulz on yesterday's episode of Southern California Public Radio's AirTalk (via Spurge)
The biographical 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente is a human drama of courage, faith and dignity, inspired by the life of baseball star Roberto Clemente.
No other baseball player dominated the 1960s like Roberto Clemente and no other Latin American player achieved his numbers. Born in 1924 in Puerto Rico, Clemente excelled in track and field and loved baseball. By the age of 17 he was playing in the PR Winter league. Spotted by the big-league scouts because of his hitting, fielding, and throwing abilities, he joined the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1954. A fierce competitor, within two seasons he was hitting above .300 consistently. He played like a man possessed, fielding superbly, unleashing his rifle arm, and hitting in clutch situations. Despite his aesthetic brilliance, he faced prejudice throughout his career and was given his due only after his unexpected and tragic death in a 1972 plane crash.
Although baseball was his obsession, Clemente never lost sight of his dreams and his greater responsibilities outside the game. This sense of urgency is what came to define him beyond that of a grand athlete. His eventual success and accompanying celebrity gave him the opportunity to engage his conscience in public life. He died when his plane went down in the Caribbean Sea on a relief mission to earthquake-torn Nicaragua that he personally directed.
21 chronicles Clemente’s life from his early days growing up in rural Puerto Rico, the highlights of his career (including the 1960s World Series where he helped the Pirates win its first victory in 33 years, and his 3000th hit in 1972 during the last official at-bat of his life) as well as his private life and public mission off the field.
After his death, Major League Baseball declared September 18 to be “Roberto Clemente Day,” and in 1999, Pittsburgh’s Sixth Street Bridge was renamed the Roberto Clemente Bridge in honor of the greatest Latino ballplayer in history.
Wilfred Santiago captures the grit of Clemente’s rise from his impoverished Puerto Rican childhood, to the majesty of his performance on the field, to his fundamental decency as a human being in a drawing style that combines realistic attention to detail and expressive cartooning.
"Wilfred Santiago's 21 is brilliant and beautiful, challenging and lyrical ... which seems exactly right, as Roberto Clemente was all those things and more." – Rob Neyer, ESPN.com
"A kaleidoscopic look at the life of the great Clemente. Santiago's artwork is superb and the depth of his passion for the subject and incredible preparation comes through on every page." – Steven Goldman, author of Forging Genius: The Making of Casey Stengel and editor of Baseball Prospectus
"I'll admit, being a baseball player often feels like a comic book experience: the costumes, the origins, the battles for great victories and inspiration it conjures in our fellow man. This book captures the essence of one of our sport's greatest heroes, and it does so in a way that engages the imaginations as much as it reveals the heart, ink, color, style, and character; I can think of no better way to share a tale of a true legend." – Dirk Hayhurst, Toronto Blue Jays pitcher and author of The Bullpen Gospels
Download an EXCLUSIVE 18-page PDF excerpt (6.6 MB). See the trailer, get more information, and download wallpapers and buddy icons at 21comix.com.
• List/Coming Attractions: On Publishers Weekly's "Spring 2011 Adult Announcements" preview, the following upcoming titles rank on The Top 10: Comics & Graphic Novels:
"Many recent comics biographies have been presented as educational material, but Wilfred Santiago's 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente uses a more expressionist style to tell the story of the baseball superstar who rose from poverty to the top of the game and died a hero's death. Long in the making, it arrives just in time for opening day."
"The comic strip gets a much needed new edition of the first volume of Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse, Vol. 1: Race to Death Valley. While perhaps an unexpected gem, Floyd Gottfredson's tough, bold mouse is a seasoned adventurer and these are driving, hard-boiled tales. After reading this volume, you'll never look at Mickey, the tuxedo-clad corporate spokesmouse, the same again."
• List:Carve Your Name Comics' Greg Townley (a.k.a. "Johnny") names his top 20 favorite comics and graphic novels of 2010:
"14) Werewolves of Montpellier by Jason — Jason’s work is haunting and surreal. I love all his books, but this one earns high points for including a character based on Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffany’s. [...] Jason’s allusion to the complex film icon really elevates this book."
"17) Wally Gropius by Tim Hensley — This book is like Richie Rich on acid – one of the most original, visually exciting books I’ve read this year."
"20) King of the Flies- 1. Hallorave by Mezzo and Pirus — King of the Flies, the first part of a proposed trilogy, is surreal and unsettling. It requires repeat readings to unearth the interwoven secrets at play."
• List: At his X-Ray Spex blog Will Pfeifer names Love and Rockets: New Stories #3 one of his Graphic Novels of the Year: "Gilbert's stuff is a lot of fun (and a lot of weird, too), but it's Jaime's shattering look back at Maggie's troubled past that elevates this book above even Love and Rockets' normally stellar standards. 'Browntown' is one of the best stories ever to appear in Love and Rockets, and if you know how brilliant the book is — easily one of the best comic series ever — you know that's high praise indeed."
• List: Also at X-Ray Spex, Pfeifer lists his best Books About Comics of the Year, including:
From Shadow to Light: The Life and Art of Mort Meskin by Steven Brower: "...[W]hen I started collecting in the late 1970s[,] Meskin's art stood out, mostly because his figures and compositions always seemed to explode off the page. And now there's an elaborate book that (a) examines his whole life (b) reprints lots of vintage art and (c) includes plenty of originals? Tell me this isn't the best time — ever — to be a comic book fan."
Four Color Fear: Forgotten Horror Comics of the 1950s: "...[T]his is a great collection, with vintage work from Basil Wolverton, Joe Kubert, Howard Nostrand, Bob Powell and especially Jack Cole, who delivers a couple of twisted masterpieces here. Also, there are fascinating, detailed end notes and a lurid collection of covers in the middle."
• Review: "Jacques Tardi’s It Was the War of the Trenches is pretty brutal. [...] It’s one thing to read about the brutality of trench warfare, another entirely to experience it in the way Tardi details it here. This wasn’t an easy read — I alternated between anger and horror the whole time — but it was a good one." – Brigid Alverson, Robot 6
• Review: "It's all very well told, with realistic details coming through even when the art takes such a cartoony style, but being the first half of a two-volume series, [Lucky in Love Book 1] is somewhat incomplete, setting up themes that will presumably be dealt with later. Still, it's quite good. However, there was one scene that I thought was excellent on its own and stood out in the memory the most. [...] War is hell, with effects reaching far outside and long beyond the actual conflict, and this scene manages to illustrate that rather effectively." – Matthew J. Brady, Warren Peace Sings the Blues
• Plug: "Ray Fenwick's Mascots is... narrated by Cthulu... I think. [...] What Fenwick paints is funny and punny, but also unexpectedly observant with just a little bit of metaphysical musing thrown in. I know that doesn't make too much sense as a combination, so just read these pages and maybe you'll understand." – Julia Pohl-Miranda, 211 Bernard (Librairie Drawn & Quarterly)
Periodic clips & strips — click for improved/additional viewing and possible artist commentary at the sources:
• Jason presents two cover illustrations: one for a biography of Henrik Ibsen, the other for a 1989 issue of a Norwegian fanzine (oh yeah, and the cover for his next Fanta collection What I Did is in there too)
"Greetings, stranger of the future. If you are reading this, it means the written word has survived, that the world of tomorrow still exists, and that for some reason my ramblings are still considered worth reading. My name is Mark Twain, and I write these words to you in the good old days of August 2010."
• Richard Sala presents a whole bunch of production, concept, and storyboard art from his animated serial "Invisible Hands" from MTV's Liquid Television, in 4 installments (so far) hereherehere and here, with commentary
• Review: "This mammoth collection [What Is All This?] presents five decades of Dixon: sex, frustration, and attempts at deeper communication, mostly missed. The 62 stories evoke neuroses, delusion, banality, and everyday absurdities in deceptively simple sentences... There are echoes of Ernest Hemingway and prefigurings of Raymond Carver's lower-middle-class minimalism infusing tales of scrappers and scrapers... Usually sublime, sometimes sloppy, and occasionally bewildering, these stories are a testament to an impressive career spent too much under the radar." – Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) [Temporary link]
• Review: "With its mix of sci-fi, romance, tragedy and comedy, A Drunken Dream is a memorable manga journey that shouldn't be missed or dismissed. [...] Drawing from deeply-felt personal experiences, Hagio draws stories for every person who has felt like an outsider, who has regretted past actions that can never be erased, or who has longed to be accepted for being who they are, not what people want them to be. These ideas sound so simple — but when touched by Hagio's pen, this is punch-in-the-gut powerful. [...] ★★★★1/2" – Deb Aoki, About.com: Manga
• Review: "While they may not be standard children’s books, they are fun and entertaining and full of stuff kids would like, without being obscene or intended for mature audiences. They are the kind of books you would want your kid reading if your kid wasn’t a total dork. [...] You get the feeling of reading old fairy tales, where the Prince wasn’t always charming, the villains would erect down right disturbing and evil plots against the characters and the story, or just the world in general was presented as a harsh reminder of reality. [...] Tony [Millionaire]... really lets his imagination run with his latest book, Billy Hazelnuts and the Crazy Bird. [...] With or without children, you can feel good about reading this book." – Brian Jones, Flash Flood Media
• Review: "Artichoke Tales is by any definition a remarkable book — the first graphic novel by Megan Kelso, who has so far worked largely in the short story form, and a book that displays at every page Kelso’s unique voice as a graphic storyteller and the care and attention she lavished on this project over the past several years. [...] This is a beautiful book, at times a heartbreaking book. One feels the precision and thought behind every word, every line, all of it edited down and arranged to a spareness that is paradoxically lush and textured." – Jared Gardner, Guttergeek
• Plug: "[Rip M.D.] seems to be a comic more geared to a juvenile public, but should be pretty cool because there are a lot of monsters, really violent werewolves, zombies, and best of all, vampires that do not sparkle!" – Submundo Mamão (translated from Portuguese)
• Profile: "Some artists seem to have had greatness as their destination as surely as if a tracking device had been implanted in their genes. Some veer toward it capriciously like a demon had seized the wheel. They start with a talent — to which they feed — in bites and gulps — their times; and, once expressed, the result is… YOWL! One of these was the underground cartoonist Greg Irons, the subject of Patrick Rosenkranz’s overlooked — and fascinating — retrospective You Call This Art?!!" – Bob Levin, The Comics Journal