• Review: "Whenever Fantagraphics releases a new Popeye book it's cause for manic joy, but this one is extra special because it introduces the mythical beast known as Eugene the Jeep who was possibly the namesake of the car/jockmobile. It also introduces Popeye's foul-tempered father, Poopdeck Pappy, who dislikes Popeye and punches Olive Oyl in the face. [...] This volume is pretty special." – Nick Gazin, Vice
• Review: "I like that Jordan Crane had decided not to play the victim of infidelity/villainous partner dynamic with the story of Leo and Dee. He has stripped them bare, which forces the reader to make his or her own decisions. Of course, the readers cannot do this through a passive reading experience. Being forced to engage isn’t a bad thing, because what we are engaging is a lush graphic narrative told in beautiful greytone art. Believing that Crane is equally good with character drama and kids’ comics may be difficult to accept, but the rollicking Simon & Jack will not only make you a believer, but also an acolyte of Crane. This is an all-ages tale because its sense of wonder and imagination will captivate all ages, and it is not too early to declare Uptight #4 one of the year’s best comics. [Grade:] A" – Leroy Douresseaux, Comic Book Bin
• Profile/Interview (Audio): At ESPN Desportes, Pedro Zayas talks to Wilfred Santiago (en Español) about 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente. An autotranslated clip from the text portion: "Santiago's graphic novel... helps us know more about the mythic history of Puerto Rican child star, before he started playing baseball, right up until his tragic death. It also includes a chapter on Puerto Rico and Clemente's childhood, as well as his life in America. It is an attractive book for all ages. 'When you make a biography the direct and personal life of the person you're writing about is important,' says Santiago. 'But at the same time is very important to the historical context in which that person lives ... It is important to know that when he lived is not the moment in which we live. '"
• Review: "The saga of Roberto Clemente is well known to baseball fans yet it has been given new life in this stunning graphic novel [21: The Story of Roberto Clemente]... Santiago's panels have a sharp, cinematic feel and the compositions and framing give the readers a better sense of how dynamic and explosive the game is than any baseball movie. The wonder of this book is that it will appeal to kids and adults alike. Even non baseball fans will fall under its spell. The national pastime has been virtually untouched by the graphic novel genre but if Santiago's effort is any indication, the marriage of subject and form is nothing short of a grand slam. Santiago has set the bar high, though, and we'll be all the richer if anyone can approach the artistry and emotional resonance of this memorable book." – Alex Belth, Sports Illustrated
• Interview:Wilfred Santiago talks with Sketch Maven about his career and creating 21: "After the previous graphic novel, In My Darkest Hour, I wanted to do a biography. There were many reasons why Clemente was chosen. The richness, purpose-driven life, the inspirational life story are a few among many factors. The relevance of Clemente’s story to a youngster of today also came to mind. Roberto was a great and famous baseball player, and the baseball was a challenging aspect to the story. But, it was great to explore the sport in a comic book format."
• Review: "One of my favorite presents from last year’s holiday season was Fantagraphics’ Usagi Yojimbo: The Special Edition... The Dragon Bellow Conspiracy... rivals just about any epic fantasy (novel or film) in the last 25 years for its narrative complexity and powerful action sequences. [...] Reading these stories will help you understand why, when we talk about the success stories of independent comics publishing, Usagi Yojimbo should be one of the first titles that gets mentioned." – Ron Hogan, Beatrice
• Review: "Crane’s work is highly, emotionally charged, but in a quiet way. Illustrated in a lush, enveloping, greytone, 'Vicissitude' has a Film-Noir quality that adds an air of mystery to this story of melancholy and rotting love. It is so engaging and enthralling that its ending is jarring. 'Freeze Out,' the Simon & Jack tale, is fantastic. It’s all-ages comic book magic. Reading it made me feel like a kid again, reading stories of adventure, fantasy, and magic for the first time on my own. If there were any doubts about Crane’s prodigious talent, Uptight #3 is the spell to dispel those doubts. [Grade] A+" – Leroy Douresseaux, Comic Book Bin
• Profile: The Toronto Star's Vit Wagner on the work and career of Joe Sacco: "'The drive is there,' says Sacco. 'I have a desire to go there and see things and talk to people. It’s invigorating and exciting. But my work involves a slower process. It takes me time to report. I like to sink into the situation. But beyond that, it takes a long time to write and draw my stuff, especially the drawing. You can report that there are 200,000 people in Tahrir Square, but if you want to draw the scene it takes a lot of effort.'"
• Interview:Sequential's David Hains talks to Joe Sacco: "I find more than half of my readers are from schools, in classes where they read my work. People have been to the regions and they’ll see, oh this medium has taken this on, I’ll pick that up. It’s sort of more book people than comics people. Although some of those are the same people, and thank God."
"Described as a Spanish Dick Tracy on steroids, the titular cabbie here is involved in a hunt for his father's stolen coffin, which contains his full inheritance. Art Spiegelman wrote the introduction, so we're not talking warmed-over liver."
"Wilson drew these linked one-pagers in the National Lampoon throughout the 1970s. His hero in a hunting cap is Everykid, who braves the daily awfulness of a child's world: school irrelevancies, getting sick, strange old relatives, department store Santas, going to camp, and death, for starters. No monsters and ghoulies — just real-life quimsies. Don't you wish you could have seen Gahan Wilson comics when you were a kid?"
"What a lavish show-and-tell: a DVD of nonprint media appearances of Krazy Kat, including videos of a 1921 'jazz pantomime' ballet and rare animated cartoons, plus two booklets collecting drawings, designs, strips, and background relating to Krazy in music and dance. [...] Clearly a shining star for popular culture and film collections."
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
• Review: "[The Complete Peanuts 1979-1980] is... a genius volume... Some of the pieces here – especially the longer storylines – are absolute classics. [...] Plus, there’s just the sheer kookiness of some of Schulz’s pop-cultural references and inventions, which continues to astound here... Schulz is at the height of his powers as a cartoonist here, as well. [...] Such graphic flair! Such economy of line! A Peanuts nut couldn’t ask for more, really." – Naomi Fry, The Comics Journal
• Review: "Littered with violence, inappropriate sexual innuendos, misguided bravado and infused with hilarity, Dungeon Quest (of which two 136 page volumes are available) promises a uniquely entertaining graphic novel experience." – Rick Klaw, The SF Site: Nexus Graphica
• Profile: Anthony Mostrom of the Los Angeles Times gives a brief history of E.C. Segar and the creation of Popeye: "Segar had no idea just how fat his checks would become after the invention of Popeye. Indeed, he flirted with the idea of dropping the character after the 'Dice Island' story ended. Who would have guessed that a character so grotesque of face would be so instantly loved, his fame so long-lived that he would become part of a Google logo 80 years later?" (Via Newsarama)
• Plug: "It really is amazing that there are generations growing up, only knowing the Disney characters from the theme parks. Thankfully, Fantagraphics is doing something about it, restoring and publishing a complete archive of the Mickey Mouse comic strip by cartooning legend Floyd Gottfredson." – Stefan Blitz, Forces of Geek
• Plug: "Fantagraphics' collection of Floyd Gottfredson's complete run on the Mickey Mouse comic strip of the 30s and 40s is one of the most exciting things on upcoming comics collection list (although I'm most excited about the same publisher's announced reprinting of Carl Barks' complete run of Donald Duck/Uncle Scrooge comics)." – Pop Culture Safari
• Plug: "I've been looking forward to Wilfred Santiago's Roberto Clemente biography 21 for what seems like years now, maybe because it's actually been a couple of years. But you wait for the good ones." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
• Review: "This book kills. It’s well worth the price of admission just to gawk at the artwork, which, had I not read the back cover, I would have guessed was the work of a master cartoonist who had honed his craft for decades. [...] Drew Weing does to Set to Sea what Quentin Tarantino did with Pulp Fiction. He (Tarantino) took the done-to-death stories of the fighter who decides not to throw the fight, the mob hit gone bad, and the goon messing with the mob boss’s wife — all fairly clichéd bits — and takes up the challenge of smashing together a brutally entertaining piece of work. That is exactly what Set to Sea is — but without all the gangsters and boxers and dancing." – Chris Reilly, The Panelists
• Review: "It’s like Let the Right One In — the horror of the supernatural is set against a dull and mundane urban background, without the lights and glamour of an American city, just miles of concrete, drainpipes and bannisters. Many of the stories [in Pocket Full of Rain ] share Steig Larsson’s sense of Scandinavian unease, and reek of Doc Martens, subtitled pop culture and Automatic for the People-era R.E.M. The title story was first published in 1995, and feels like Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron by Dan Clowes." – Grant Buist, The Name of This Cartoon Is Brunswick
• Review: "I’m in love. With the town of Palomar. How could you not? You’d have to have a heart of stone not to fall in love with Hernandez’s creations. The characters [in Heartbreak Soup] are so warm, and lifelike, that even the ones that are supposed to be annoying (like Tonantzin and Toco) are just so loveable, you can’t help but sigh and say, 'Oh you!' under your breath, even though you don’t even really know the character too well yet!" – Lisa Pollifroni, lisaloves2read
(As a reminder, we have a full portfolio of Facebook pages for ourselves and various related artists and projects, as well as other social networking destinations where you can connect with us, links to all of which can be found here.)
Daily OCD Extra: At Publishers Weekly, John Seven writes about Wilfred Santiago's new graphic biography 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente and talks to Santiago about the creation of the book: "'I tried to look from the outside,' said Santiago. 'I wanted to tell the story as if you asked me about somebody that I knew and I just started rambling and telling you about him. I wanted the book to have that free flow to it.' In doing so, it gave Santiago a chance to look back at his culture and realize that the distance between it and life on mainland American provided some clarity about the culture in Puerto Rico and how it shaped Clemente." Our own Associate Publisher Eric Reynolds also provides commentary. Read the whole thing here.
• 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.