• Review: "...Wilfred Santiago... has done something very extraordinary and that's create a graphic novel that will eventually stand the test of time. If there was ever a novel that every Latino/Latina (baseball fan or not), comic book fan, family or anyone who volunteers/works in nonprofit must own in their library, it's 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente. Am I exaggerating? No, being the comic book nerd that I am, I haven't been this moved from a novel since I read Frank Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.... While Roberto Clemente was a fantastic baseball player, it was his humanity in this graphic novel that shone brightly. And I thank Wilfred Santiago for creating his masterpiece and Fantagraphics for publishing it. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!" – Cesar Diaz, Latino Sports
• Review: "[Megan Kelso's] interest in open-ended narrative is apparent and, while occasionally frustrating, important, and her gouache work in the title story [in Queen of the Black Black] is lovely and subtle..." – Hillary Brown, Paste
• Scene:The New Yorker's Vanna Le reports from Lou Reed's reading of The Raven at the Strand bookstore in NYC last week: "Mattotti's illustrations, which were projected in a slide show, saturated the room with a kind of terror and despair. There was also something about the sound and sudden fits of fury in Reed's voice that seemed to mirror Poe's tormented vision." From the accompanying slideshow of images of the book: "Lorenzo Mattotti skillfully brings out the terror and elegance of Reed and Poe’s joint masterwork…. The book is an aesthetically stunning treat — but it isn’t only for the coffee table. Mattotti’s artwork is as enigmatic and suspenseful as the poetry itself."
• List:School Library Journal names Linda Medley's Castle Waiting Vol. 2 one of "39 Graphic Novels That Kids Can't Resist": "Both volumes of Castle Waiting are vivid and enchanting, as any good fairy tale should be. Handsomely bound and printed on rich, creamy paper, the most important element — the story — is charming, filled with slowly building plots and compelling characters, and the slow pace means readers can spend the summer hours with some good company.... With clean black-and-white art and impeccable pacing, Castle Waiting remains a favorite for older kids and younger teens."
• List: Rick Klaw's "Top Ten of the Half Year '11" at The Geek Curmudgeon includes Joe Daly's Dungeon Quest at #9 ("Littered with violence, inappropriate sexual innuendos, misguided bravado and infused with hilarity, Dungeon Quest... promises a uniquely entertaining graphic novel experience.") and 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente by Wilfred Santiago at #3 ("In this emotionally moving biography, the Puerto Rican Wilfred Santiago magnificently chronicles the often tragic life of this icon.... Santiago expertly traverses Clemente's tribulations, losses, and success with ease and skill. His portrayal of the baseball games rank among the finest ever attempted in this medium. Under the masterful hands of Santiago, 21 evolves into far more than just a biography of a sports figure. It showcases a life worth emulating.")
• Profile: "...21: The Story of Roberto Clemente... is drawn with a jagged whimsy that gets at the sudden sharpness of a baseball game's action, the frenzy that comes from out of nowhere to temporarily replace the long, slow stretches of waiting, scratching, spitting and eyeballing opponents that are endemic to the sport. The result is a captivating work that reflects the complexity of Clemente (1934-1972), a dedicated humanitarian as well as an uncommonly gifted athlete.... 'I knew the culture he came from, because I came from the same place,' [Wilfred] Santiago says. 'And there was a mythic aspect to him that was part of the story I wanted to tell. Comic books bring a different kind of narrative that's not possible in any other medium — not books, not movies.'" – Julia Keller, Chicago Tribune
• Review: "A little boy is mistaken for his older sister and is bewildered by the feeling that this stirs in him. Thus begins the story of the Wandering Son, a daring fairy-tale about two unusual children in the time before the riot of puberty and their struggles with who they are and who they want to be.... The artwork in Wandering Son is appealing and sensitive.... Wandering Son mercifully isn’t a political screed and its characters, equally mercifully, are not pressured into making political points out of their inner lives.... They are allowed under that protective charm 'kawaii' to explore their feelings and identity and are treated with the utmost compassion and dignity by their author. That makes Wandering Son a most compelling fantasy... Wandering Son chooses for the most part to dwell on the possibility of choice, of self-knowledge and the love of a friend who knows your secret." – Michael Arthur, The Hooded Utilitarian
• Review: At his High-Low blog, Rob Clough re-posts his Sequart review of the first 5 volumes of Mome: "I can't help thinking of Mome as the comics equivalent of a baseball farm league club. You know you're good if you're invited by the major league club to come on, but there's an expectation of getting better, of being productive, of working hard in order to become great. And the creators in this book seem to range across a wide variety of ages and levels of experience, much like a minor league baseball team. Some are raw rookies, others have been laboring in obscurity for years and are just now getting an opportunity at the big time."
• Interview:The Daily Cross Hatch's Brian Heater continues his conversation with Mome editor Eric Reynolds: "I don’t know if there’s an official reason. I just felt like the time had come. It had been over five years. I’m really happy with it. I’m proud of what we did. But at the same time, there are always compromises you make along the way. I felt I’d already run my course with it. I could have kept it going. I sort of set myself up with a template that was fairly easy to do, three or four times a year."
• Review: "Excellent quality reproduction of the cartoons, interesting texts...; a supreme book treatment by a 'bibliophile publisher': something that convinces even the most recalcitrant Disney collectors to buy something that they might already have seen and have read the contents of the first volume in multiple dressings and in multiple languages, and possess it in different forms." – Luca Boschi, Il Sole 24 Ore (translated from Italian)
• Plug: "Mickey Mouse 'Race to Death Valley' has the first MM strips from 1930-32 by Floyd Gottfredson, considered the finest of all the MM artists and much collected. Several complete episodes and a wonderful 68-page section devoted to essays, early Mickey artwork and special features. I'm eager to sit down and digest it all myself." – Bud Plant
• Review: "Schulz's jokes are fine; his characters are likable and instantly recognizable; and Peanuts is never dull. But, in these years, it settled for being a consistently entertaining standard comic strip rather than digging any more deeply than that into the sources of human sadness and discomfort." – Andrew Wheeler, The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
• Plugs: The latest "Comics College" reader's guide from Chris Mautner at Robot 6 delves into George Herriman and Krazy Kat: "If you... want to dig deeper, the next logical choice is Fantagraphics’ lovely collection of Sunday strips, dubbed Krazy & Ignatz.... If all those books seem like too much shopping for you, Fantagraphics has collected much of the same material in two hardcovervolumes, with a presumed third one coming along the way sometime in the near future.... Fantagraphics has announced their intention to collect the daily Krazy Kat strips as well, but that’s down the line a bit. In the meantime, there are really only two ways to get a solid sampling of the daily strip, one of which is The Kat Who Walked in Beauty, an oversize tome that pairs together strips from the 1910s and 1920s, as well as some other Krazy-related ephemera."
• Plug: "Fantagraphics Books publishes one of my all-time favorites; Jason, short for John Arne Saerterøy. Jason’s animal people inhabit satirical but celebratory genre pieces. In about 50 pages, Jason’s The Last Musketeer tells the story of Athos, the last depressed musketeer in the 21st century. A meteor hits Paris, and Martians start invading. Before too long, Athos stows away to Mars to save the Martian princess in order to save Earth from total annihilation." – Victoria Elliott, The Daily Texan
• Review: "Expectations are foiled at every turn [in Congress of the Animals] precisely because Woodring is digging deep into the rich soil of his own imagination; he's pulling these stories up from the same place that myths and legends come from, and in that way, his books have the weird weight and unmistakable freshness of myth. These are stories that haven't been told before, but they come from the place where stories are born, so they're instantly recognizable to everyone. And because they live in the prelinguistic language of cartoons, almost anyone on the planet can look at a page and immediately understand what is happening." – Paul Constant, The Stranger
• Plug: Further, Jim Woodring's appearance at Elliott Bay Book Company tonight is today's "The Stranger Suggests," Paul Constant saying "Every one of Woodring's comics is an epic poem, a psychedelic novel, and a deeply personal memoir. If you can't identify with his protagonist, the innocent-but-fickle Frank, there's something wrong with you."
• Review: "In Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse Vol. 1, part of an ambitious, multi-volume reprint project from Fantagraphics, 21st century readers are reintroduced to this largely forgotten Mickey and his unfortunately largely forgotten cartoonist. It’s like meeting Mickey Mouse for the first time — and learning the little guy is actually a total badass. ★★★★ [out of 5]" – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Las Vegas Weekly
• Review: "Mordantly hilarious, this superbly cynical fable [Isle of 100,000 Graves] rattles along in captivating fashion: a perfect romp for older kids and a huge treat for fans looking for something a little bit different. Jason’s work always jumps directly into the reader’s brain and heart, using his beastly repertory company to gently pose eternal questions about basic human needs in a soft but relentless quest for answers. That you don’t ever notice the deep stuff because of the clever gags and safe, familiar 'funny-animal' characters should indicate just how good a cartoonist he is. His collaboration here with the sly and sardonic Vehlmann has produced a genuine classic that we’ll all be talking about for years to come." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Plug: "...[W]hile it seems like an oddball idea to put an individual spin on masterworks like Poe's, [The Raven] actually looks gorgeous, the artwork fantastic and macabre..." – Sydney Brownstone, The L Magazine
• Plug: "Lou Reed has been quite busy these days. When he's not collaborating with Metallica on a record, he's spending time putting together a graphic novel based around his 'spiritual forefather' Edgar Allen Poe, called, appropriately, The Raven. ...Reed's Poe-esque lyrics have been collected into a book and illustrated with paintings by New Yorker cartoonist Lorenzo Mattotti. And yes, the book looks just as creepy as you'd expect." – Jamie Feldmar, Gothamist
• Interview (Audio):Inkstuds host Robin McConnell's latest guest: "Wilfred Santiago’s comic biography of Roberto Clemente  is a great look at a specific time in not only baseball, but also touching on mid century american racial and political tones. Wilfred skillfully tackles a range of issues in this great collection. It was a delight to discuss this great book with him."
• Lore:Kim Deitch's "Mad About Music: My Life in Records" column continues over at TCJ.com, with the new third installment focusing on television
• Review: "...[Wandering Son] is absolutely fantastic and deserves every one of the awards it will doubtless win. ...[I]t’s an honest look at what Shu and Yoshino are going through. There’s no magic pool, no funny crossdressing, no easy solution to the dilemma that these two face. What I also like about the series is that its secondary characters are often just as interesting as the main pair: they’re all in fifth grade, after all, when everyone is struggling with their identities and the consequences thereof. Shu and Yoshino just get the worst of it." – Ted Anderson, The Hub (YALSA)
• Review: "Woodring’s someone whose work demands repeated reads. For longtime fans, Congress of the Animals is another puzzle piece in Woodring’s complicated world of art. For newcomers, it’s likely going to be the first enjoyable step of discovering that world and Woodring’s back catalogue." – Nick Dean, Skyscraper Magazine
• Review: "In this selection [Captain Easy, Soldier of Fortune Vol. 2] Roy Crane’s irrepressible humour comes perfectly into focus and this enchanting serial abounds with breezy light-hearted banter, hilarious situations and outright farce... This superb hardback and colossal second collection is the perfect means of discovering or rediscovering Crane’s rip-snorting, pulse-pounding, exotically racy adventure trailblazer. The huge pages in this volume... provide the perfect stage to absorb and enjoy the classic tale-telling of a master raconteur. This is storytelling of impeccable quality: unforgettable, spectacular and utterly irresistible. These tales rank alongside the best of Hergé, Tezuka, Toth and Kirby and unarguably fed the imaginations of them all as he still does for today’s comics creators." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Interview: At New York magazine's Vulture blog, Jennifer Vineyard talks to Lou Reed about adapting Edgar Allen Poe for The Raven (among other topics): "Do you know what it’s like to try to rewrite one of the most famous poems in the history of the world? It’s a can’t-win situation. No one is ever going to say that the rewrite is better than the original. That’s not going to happen."
• Interview: At the Suicide Girls website, Alex Dueben talks to Dave McKean about his new book Celluloid: "It’s always a bit strange doing something that is exclusively about sex and putting it out for people to look at. There are people who are bound to draw some sort of parallel between you as an individual and the stuff you’re putting in the book, which is not necessarily there to be drawn, but people do. So I tried to keep my identity out of it as much as possible."
• Profile:Time Out Chicago's Jonathan Kinkley profiles local boy Wilfred Santiago: "21: The Story of Roberto Clemente is a lovingly written and superbly illustrated biography of the baseball legend.... Stylistically, he considers himself something of a chameleon, tackling each challenge with a new visual approach. 'Actors change accents to play different characters,' says the artist, 'and I have the same graphic flexibility to interpret different kinds of stories.'"
One of the most "unusual" references to Roberto Clemente can be found on the cover of Cyndi Lauper's She's So Unusual LP. The Pittsburgh Pirates legend's name appears prominently above the doorway behind the twisting pop diva in the photograph by Annie Liebovitz. Go figure. This 1983 recording sold over 9 million copies, yet won only a single Grammy award for album packaging. Apropos of little, other than a reminder to read Wilfred Santiago's wonderful graphic novel biography 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente.
• List:Castle Waiting Vols. 1 & 2 take two spots on Nancy Pearl's "10 Terrific Summer Reads" list at NPR.org: "The black-and-white drawings are precisely crafted, with small, endearing touches that render each character entirely unique. The dialogue is clever and filled with subtle grace notes of drollness and humor. The set will be especially appealing to readers of all ages who enjoy seeing and reading traditional fairy tale tropes teased and played with, all with a sense of good-humored fun."
• Review: "...Congress of the Animals finds twisted fabulist Woodring at the top of his darkly delightful game: Open the book at random and the odds are very good that your gaze will alight upon something that stings, bites, drips, oozes or squelches. Tentacled plant-beasts threaten the unwary, factories powered by crushed blackbirds produce who-knows-what, slimy amphibians enact bizarre rituals and a tribe of naked, faceless men whom the jacket copy refers to as "blind gut-worshippers" — easily the most potent nightmare fuel Woodring has ever produced — drug passersby for mysterious purposes of their own. You certainly won't want to live inside the covers of Congress of the Animals, but it's a fascinating and thrilling feat of imagination, and one hell of a place to visit." – Glen Weldon, NPR.org
• Review: "This book does something I love. It takes me inside a world I’ve never known.... Shimura’s writing does a good job of exposing the readers to the realities of being transgender. Wandering Son ignited my imagination and got me trying to relate to and understand these characters as deeply as possible.... Shimura has crafted an excellent opening volume.... The quiet pace and subject matter make this series a perfect read for the alternative comics crowd. Fans of shoujo and josei manga will enjoy it too. I’d love for everyone to at least give the first volume of Wandering Son a try. It’s a rare gem of emotional honesty and complexity that rewards those willing to take the risk and move outside their typical reading habits." – Ed Sizemore, Comics Worth Reading
• Review: "Monologues for Calculating the Density of Black Holes by Anders Nilsen... touched a special spot that I strive towards in my reading; it created atmosphere. There’s a weight to the unhinged timeline and nonsensical dialogue. It feels calculated, even as it touches on topics such as 'Godzilla vs. Richard Simmons.' The drawings are simple, yet they effortlessly convey time and feel appropriate for the content. It was a quick read, but one that I’ll be revisiting. Check it out." – Au Yeah!
• Interview:Newsarama's Michael Lorah talks to Wilfred Santiago about the creation of 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente: "A baseball sequence is all about interpretation; there are cold, unchangeable facts. If the batter hits a home run to left field in the second inning, etc., then those are unchangeable facts about that scene. So it’s about the reading of the particulars. I mean, if you are saying sad things while laughing maniacally, it’s different than if you are saying them while sobbing and in tears. Therefore, it’s all about what role that particular game sequence plays in the story as a whole. It’s not a book about baseball, even though there’s baseball in it."
• Interview (Audio):Inkstuds host Robin McConnell rang up Dave McKean (on Skype presumably) for a conversation about his latest book: "Celluloid, fresh out from Fantagraphics, is a remarkable work exploring pornography through a very particular lens. Needless to say, it is fantastic."
Curious about that first pair, I dug around a little online, and came across these beauts, and some more information. Apparently, back in the 1970's, Clemente lent his name to this brand of Super Pro sneakers, sold exclusively in his homeland of Puerto Rico! I propose supplemental material on these shoes in a future Special Edition of 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente.
And I saved the best (in my girly-opinion) for last with these exquisite shoes, inspired by E.C. Segar's Popeye fashionista Olive Oyl. I sure wanna kidnap these handcrafted beauties by Israeli shoe designer Kobi Levi, but oops, looks like they're one-of-a-kind. Kobi, I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a pair of these today?
[ Props to Devlin Thompson and Cartoon Brew for the scoop! ]