Thanks to our special SPX friend Warren Bernard for sending photos of some of our book titles given to the Enoch Pratt Library of Baltimore, MD. Above, CEO of the library, Dr. Carla Hayden, holds 21: Roberto Clemente by Wilfred Santiago and a staff favorite. The total gift was "$5000 of books, 240 books, 40 titles, part of the SPX Graphic Novel Gift Program" targeted and dispersed to public and academic library systems in the DC area. Each book will have a beautiful bookplate as seen on the SPX site. Below the library staff oogles the books including Maggie the Mechanic by Jaime Hernandez. Check out the shelves at Enoch Pratt Library for some of your favorite Fantagraphics reads.
The freshest fried-this-morning Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review: Tucker Stone on The Comics Journal gives a thumbs-up to Dungeon Quest Vol. 3 by Joe Daly. "Dungeon Quest–the mumbling stoner counterpart to its methed up metal freak cousin, Prison Pit–has a whole new stack of penis-obsessed pages to play with. It’s tempting to single out one part of this volume to label as best, but that temptation dissipates upon the realization that it’s going to be impossible to pick a winner."
• Review:BookGasm raves about Jacques Tardi's New York Mon Amour. JT Lindroos says, "It shuffles in elements from Tardi’s other books, but distills those familiar ingredients into a wholly unique concoction. . . It’s a love letter to an imaginary city bursting with life, depression and death, a city you love to observe from a distance."
• Plug:Noah Van Sciver finished out the TCJ Comic Diary week with a visit by Gary Groth. Heidi MacDonald of The Beat said nice things about The Hypo: "an extremely well researched look at Abraham Lincoln’s early days as a depressed young lawyer, will be one of the buzz books of the fall."
• Plug:Bleeding Cool and Rich Johnston show off some pages from Today is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life by Ulli Lust, coming out this fall.
• Plug:Robot 6 and Bridget Alverson are excited for both the upcoming Wilfred Santiago books on Michael Jordan and John Brown. "If the images are any indication, Santiago is busting out from the limited palette he used for the Clemente book to full, brilliant color, applied in a bold, painterly style."
• Plug: The Covered blog continues to highlight new versions of Love and Rockets covers. This time it's L&R #50 drawn by Robert Goodin. Check out Goodin's eerie treatment of a classic.
• Plug: The Love and Rockets Northeast Tour is mentioned on BoingBoing. Thanks, Marc!
• Interview:Casey Burbach interviews editor John Benson on fanzine Squa Tront's issue #13 (forty years after issue #1 came out) and the EC collections that have been published: "I thought that the color in the latest “EC Archives” series was pretty bad, at least in the book that I saw – not appropriate for comics of that era. . . The Fantagraphics series will be produced with quality and taste, I’m sure. Hopefully, with a different distribution set-up, going into bookstores, they may also reach a new audience."
• Review (audio): The Comic Books are Burning in Hell podcast recently chatted up Johnny Gruelle's Mr. Twee-Deedle edited by Rick Marschall. Around the 38 minute mark is where they predict ". . . it'll wind up a real contender for 2012's 'thru the cracks' award for most sadly obscure release. . ." Let's avoid ANY books falling through the cracks, check out this broadsheet-sized wonder today!
• Review:The Australian checks out Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons, edited by Kelly Gerald. Owen Heitmann says, "Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons is primarily of historical interest, documenting the early development of the first postwar female writer to merit inclusion in the Library of America series. Editor Kelly Gerald has taken this archival approach to heart, reproducing apparently every extant example of O'Connor's cartooning, even doodles from later handwritten letters."
Yet another honor for Wilfred Santiago's 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente — now it's been named one of Booklist's "Top 10 Graphic Novels: 2012" (so named even though it's all 2011 books), with Ian Chipman saying "Kinetic compositions washed with Pirate-yellow hues and a narrative that traces both Clemente’s personal and athletic triumphs combine in this biography of the pioneering Puerto Rican baseball great." We know it leads of the list because it's alphabetical, but we like the way it's part of the header graphic:
The list appears in print in the new issue (cover dated March 15), which also contains Gordon Flagg's review of Is That All There Is? by Joost Swarte:
"In the early ’70s, when American underground-comic artists like R. Crumb were drawing subversive stories in styles derived from the comic strips they grew up with, Dutch cartoonist Swarte was similarly warping the graphic approach of Europe’s most famous comics artist, Tintin creator Hergé. It was Swarte who coined the term ligne claire, or 'clear line,' for the distinctive, meticulous style marked by the use of unvarying, evenly inked lines. Swarte applied that technique to significantly more grown-up fare than Hergé’s rousing adventure tales, as shown in this collection of nearly all of his adult comics work, much of it featuring Jopo de Pojo, an oversized naïf with a Tintinesque quiff, and the pompous intellectual Anton Makassar. Some are globe-spanning escapades that are clearly inspired by Tintin’s exploits, albeit with sex, drugs, and gore; others are shorter satirical or humorous pieces. Since the main attraction is Swarte’s alluring visuals, a larger page size would have showcased the intricate illustrations to better advantage; but considering the previous unavailability of his work in English translation, that’s an ungrateful quibble."
• Interview: Our own Eric Buckler talks to Wilfred Santiago at our own The Comics Journal: "Unlike working with someone else’s script, there’s no linear method when I work on my own. That is to say I write while I ‘toon, and I ‘toon while I write. So the most important step is editing–what’s left on the page before going to the printer and into the sweaty hands of readers. I do believe writing has improved my cartooning. I don’t think it’s an accident that some of the best cartoonists are writers. I’m not putting myself in that group but I strive for it."
• Review: "This is a wonderful collection of golden age material from Bill Everett, all never before reprinted.... For fans of golden age material or Bill Everett Amazing Mysteries: The Bill Everett Archives, Vol. 1 is a must have look at early comics from lesser known publishers... At $40 it’s an investment into rarely seen material." – Scott VanderPloeg, Comic Book Daily
• Review: At Danish comics website Nummer9, Nikolaj Mangurten Rubin looks at Kolor Klimax: Nordic Comics Now, calling it "A many-headed troll monster of a book" and giving it a 4 out of 5 rating
• Review: "Not many music writers warrant a biography. Lester Bangs was one. Maybe Tosches or Kent. But Everything Is an Afterthought, by Kevin Avery, is a singular piece of work, a hybrid bio and anthology. Nelson was the Orson Welles of rock letterdom, a man whose profiles of Springsteen and Zevon were masterpieces of the form. A slow stone-cutter of a writer, a cinephile and a noir buff (and an inveterate deadline-misser), he shot himself in the foot many times, but Avery’s book makes the reader misty-eyed for a time when music journalism was populated by hard-nosed evangelists, not suck-ups or career snarks." – Peter Murphy, "Blog of Revelations," Hot Press
• Review: As part of ComicsAlliance's series focusing on sex in comics, Douglas Wolk looks at Gilbert Hernandez's Birdland: "Birdland has been out of print for a while, which is a pity. It's witty, eccentric, bursting with joy, and utterly, cheerfully smutty.... And the whole thing is drawn in a style that's the erotic equivalent of Jack Kirby's fight scenes: grounded in the way actual bodies interact, but pumped up to an imaginative intensity way beyond anything the naked eye has ever seen. On top of that, Birdland is funny -- not corny-funny or nudge/wink-funny, but absurd and sly, with a terrific sense for what can make the overfamiliar language of pornography fresh again."
• Review: "There really is no cartoonist in the world quite like the great Joost Swarte. His stories are surreal, silly, sexy and sometimes spectacular. They're gorgeously drawn in a classic European style that lights up every page of this wonderful and gorgeous book [Is That All There Is?]. Don't worry about these stories being too obscure or strange -- this book fun and silly and awesome. ★★★★★" – Jason Sacks, Comics Bulletin
• Review: "Wilfred Santiago’s graphic novel captures the talent of Clemente the baseball player while also showcasing and illuminating the many simple and human qualities of the man that forged him into an honest and authentic hero. 21′s complex yet accessible narrative and profound artwork make it a swift and affecting experience, one that I plan to enjoy on multiple future readings. If you’re a fan of baseball and things that are really well done, you could do a whole lot worse than to check out the novel for yourself." – Kyle Davis, Call to the Pen
• Review: "Editor/designer Greg Sadowski returns to his tireless exploration of the comic book with this magnificent collection of 176 full color covers [Action! Mystery! Thrills!], dating from the Golden Age. 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." – Rick Klaw, The SF Site: Nexus Graphica
• Review: "In addition to undermining the colonialist attitudes of Hergé and classic Disney cartoons with his R. Crumb-ish verve, Swarte also presents a clutch of perfectly packaged riffs on cartoon art. Having a Chris Ware introduction makes sense, given Swarte’s excruciating eye for architectural detail, and could help introduce Swarte to a larger audience, but the book [Is That All There Is?] may not need it — the art doesn’t speak for itself, it shouts." – Publishers Weekly
"The Puerto Rican slugger overcame family poverty, racial prejudice, and the language barrier to be voted the National League’s Most Valuable Player for 1966. Puerto Rican-born Santiago (In My Darkest Hour) superbly captures the kinetic excitement of baseball as well as Clemente’s skill and warm humanity on and off the diamond.... Highly recommended; buy several."
"First published by Fantagraphics in 2003 and nominated for an Eisner Award, this history of racial depictions in comics has been updated in both its content and its source list. Over 100 entries, each featuring a representative illustration and an instructive short essay, cover an international range of comics, from Moon Mullins through Tintin, Will Eisner, R. Crumb, Peanuts, Boondocks, and beyond."
• Plug: "The Fantagraphics reprint of the Mickey Mouse comic strip made by Floyd Gottfredson was already a gem in its first edition in two volumes separately, but with this new edition, with two volumes in a box and a lower price, it becomes essential." – CaraB (translated from Spanish)
• Interview (Video/Audio): Get comfy for an hour-long chat with Bill Griffith about Lost and Found: Comics 1969-2003 on Bob Andelman's Mr. Media podcast, presented in video and streaming audio formats: "I’m sure somebody will be offended, which will be nice — to still offend somebody after all these years. People who only know Zippy comics through King Features will probably be surprised to see that Zippy was more adult-oriented."