At Comic-Con in July, we'll be debuting the 22nd and final volume of MOME (that's one-half of Zak Sally's beautifully elegant wraparound cover of the issue, above). It's a bittersweet thing for me, but I couldn't be happier about how the last issue -- at 240 pages, about twice as long as any previous issue -- turned out, so when Mike Baehr suggested I do something for Flog about it, it seemed like a no-brainer. And when I decided the best way to do so would be to post some teaser images from the issue, it took me about half a second to realize where to start: Kurt Wolfgang.
Kurt has been essentially the one constant in MOME from the very first issue (along with myself, I guess), and his main contribution, the ongoing "Nothing Eve," is pretty much the standard-bearer of the kind of work that MOME was specifically designed to midwife into the world, and one of the things I'm most proud to have published in its pages. The simple, dramatic idea behind it -- If you knew the world was ending tomorrow, how would you spend your last night? -- is really just a launching point for what is essentially a charmingly funny and character-driven piece about the way people relate to each other. Kurt resists melodrama every step of the way, and the work is so much better for it.
Also, more than just about any other serial I can ever remember reading in an anthology, "Nothing Eve" functioned perfectly as a serial. In addition to crafting a completely hilarious and compelling graphic novel, Kurt has an innate knack for breaking his story down into compelling chapters that function on their own. You could easily enjoy any chapter of "Nothing Eve" without ever having read another. That's not an easy feat, and regular MOME readers were given a better experience for it.
The bad news is that MOME is ending before "Nothing Eve" ends. The good news, however, is that when "Nothing Eve" is eventually published, it will be that much more satisfying a read.
The best news is that Kurt prepared an alternative, "final" chapter for MOME 22 that is just about my favorite thing I've ever published in MOME. So for those of you who've been following "Nothing Eve" since the beginning, you're going to be rewarded with something truly special that won't end up in the eventual collection.
I'm very reluctant to tip my hand any further, but let's just say, it's right about with this four-panel sequence that shit starts to get unreal:
You can't even begin to guess where things go from here, but trust me in that I promise you won't be disappointed.
It's down to the last couple of days for Zak Sally's Kickstarter project for his self-published, self-printed edition of Sammy the Mouse Vol. 1, collecting the first 3 Ignatz Series issues. The project already met its funding goal a couple of weeks ago but Zak is making one last plea for additional funds so that he can make the book a little fancier, hire some promo help and maybe pay himself a little bit for the printing. And of course it's your last chance to get in on the nifty pledge incentives. If you haven't pledged yet, what are you waiting for?
Zak Sally's Kickstarter project for his self-published, self-printed edition of Sammy the Mouse Vol. 1, collecting the first 3 Ignatz Series issues, has met its funding goal with plenty of time to spare! You still have 16 days to put in your pledge, and you'll be guaranteed a copy of the book and some great pledge incentives at various funding levels. Happy news!
I can say, without a doubt, that was the Best TCAF Ever!
...Okay, fine, so Fantagraphics has only done the Toronto Comics Art Festivaltwice, but it truly was an amazing year! Thank you so much to Christopher, Peter, Miles, Andrew, Gina, and all the fantastic volunteers of TCAF!
And, of course, one of my favorite things about TCAF?
Canadian donuts. Oh yeah.
Mike and I woke up bright and early to set-up our table. There was a momentary panic when I realized one of our display racks didn't arrive from Seattle, but the stellar staff at the Toronto Reference Library loaned us one of their carts for the weekend so we could get all of our shipment out! Thanks Ab!!
This photo serves as proof that we DID bring copies of Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Vol. 1 (see? on the front corner there) and Wandering Son Book 1 (front and center). They both sold out so quickly, some people thought their debut was a myth, but nope! It's also true that Wandering Son sold out in the first two hours of the show!
Not too surprisingly, The Raven was another sell-out, along with Lorenzo's Ignatz title Chimera. (Stigmata was also insanely close to selling out.) And how gracious and kind was Lorenzo Mattotti? I'm envious of everyone who got to attend his panels! He kept modestly insisting his English wasn't very good (it was good!), but his intelligence and great humor shine through in any language! Thank you so much to TCAF and the Italian Cultural Institute for bringing Lorenzo to Toronto!
Lorenzo may have been a "Guest of Honor" at the con, but really, all of our artists were "guests of honor" at the Fantagraphics table! We feel so lucky to work with some of the nicest people in all of comics, like Zak Sally here (seen with fellow Ignatz artist Mattotti). Not only did Zak do beautiful signings, but "Professor Zak" came out, engaging customers (and us!) with his insane depth of knowledge on comic history! [Note to Zak: I totally wanna see that Osamu Tezuka DVD!]
It's not a TCAF without pre-eminent Ditko scholar Blake Bell, and we were thrilled to have Dave Cooperattending TCAF for what we hope was the first of many signings to come!
And, of course, it's everyone favorite: T Edward Bak, seen here modeling his sweet new Popeye shirt. Covey, I know you're jealous. Bak split his time between signing with us and signing with Koyama Press, ran by Anne Koyama, aka The Nicest Woman in Comics™.
On Saturday night, Mike, Lorenzo and I attended our first ever Doug Wright Awards, where this adorable picture was shown during the induction of David Boswell (far left in the photo) into the "Giants of the North." Yes, that isDaniel Clowes with The Hernandez Brothers and a grunged-out Chester Brown. Awesome.
Without a doubt, the most romantic moment of TCAF was when Drawn & Quarterly's Tom Devlin surprised Peggy Burns with the prettiest bouquet on Mother's Day! They were the Prom King and Queen of TCAF!
Another favorite moment was watching T Edward Bak and Lorenzo Mattotti at the TCAF After-Party on Sunday night. The two artists bonded over a crazy book T Edward found featuring Heavy Metal-style artwork. We got on the subject of "First Concerts." Mike and Todd both saw U2 on the Joshua Tree tour, albeit in separate cities. (High fives ensued.) And Lorenzo's first concert? Canned Heat. Just when you thought the guy couldn't get any cooler.
So, as you can see, it was a wonderful time at TCAF! (And there are lots more photos over at the Fantagraphics Flickr page.) Thank you so much to everyone who stopped by the Fantagraphics table to browse or purchase books — we're so grateful for your support and your enthusiasm, and we can't wait to see you again next year!
You have hopefully read the first 3 issues of Zak Sally's astounding Ignatz Series comic Sammy the Mouse. Or maybe you've been "trade-waiting." Either way, you'll want to get in on the Kickstarter campaign for Zak's self-published, self-printed collection of those 3 issues. Yeah, we'd also like it if you buy the 3 issues from us. But this is the beauty of creators' rights and the DIY spirit! And you know that since the collection is coming straight from Zak it's going to be a beautiful product made with love. A twelve buck pledge gets you the book — jeez that's reasonable! — and there's spiffy pledge bonuses at the higher levels. The video above brings a god damn tear to my eye.
Fantagraphics is thrilled to be heading across the border for the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, this weekend, Saturday, May 7th and Sunday, May 8th! Mike Baehr and I will be on hand, and, yes, it's true... we're bringing The Mouse to Canada! In fact, just look at all the new titles we're bringing with us:
Indeed, we will have The Raven after all, just in time for you to get your copy signed by artist Lorenzo Mattotti, making the trip all the way from Italy for a very rare international appearance! And he's just one of the many amazing artists signing this weekend!
Where can you find all this awesome-ness? Swing on by tables #162-163.
[ click the map to open a larger version ]
And don't forget to take in some of the great panels organized by TCAF! Listed below are the panels involving Fantagraphics artists, but, really, check out the entire schedule, 'cause there are tons of really interesting talks going on! (Mike, for instance, is especially excited about that "Adventure Time" panel!)
Saturday, May 7th
10:15 – 11:15 am // A15: Root Rot Release Featuring: T. Edward Bak, Michael DeForge, Ines Estrada, Bob Flynn, Jesse Jacobs, Hellen Jo, Joseph Lambert, Diana McNally, Robin Nishio, Angie Wang and Mickey Zacchilli Moderated by Anne Koyama Location: Learning Center 1 Koyama Press is proud to announce a launch party to celebrate the release of the Root Rot anthology. Ten of the artists will be in attendance for the book’s debut. Come and meet them! Plus live drawing, signings, giveaways and more!
11:30 – 12:15 pm // A16: Spotlight: Lorenzo Mattotti Moderated by Robin McConnell Location: Learning Center 1 Lorenzo Mattotti is recognized today as one of the most outstanding international exponents of comics art. His books have been translated all over the world. Mattoti, a Featured Guest of TCAF, appears here to discuss his life and his work, including his most recent graphic novels Stigmata and The Raven. Mattotti will be interviewed by the host of Inkstuds, Robin McConnell.
1:00 – 2:00 pm // A4: Creator Roundtable Panelists: Paul Pope, Brandon Graham, and Sam Hiti Moderated by Robin McConnell Location: The Pilot Paul Pope, Sam Hiti and Brandon Graham are creating modern comics built on a wealth of influences. Joined by Inkstuds host Robin McConnell, they will be exploring the tableau of work that inspires them and how that affects the creative processes in work such as Death Day, Tiempos Finales, King City, Multiple Warheads, 100%, THB and more.
Sunday, May 8th
12:30 – 1:30 pm // U2: Illustration Panelists: Lorenzo Mattotti, Jillian Tamaki, Adrian Tomine Moderated by Caitlin McGurk Location: The Pilot Many cartoonists also have a career in illustration. Come listen to four prestigious comics artists and illustrators discuss the difference between creating in a narrative form (comics) and a static one (illustration).
1:15 – 2:00 pm // U13: Print Culture Panelists: Tom K., John Porcellino and Dylan Williams Moderated by Zak Sally Location: Learning Center 1 From Comic Books to ‘Graphic Novels,’ from the Undergrounds to Art Comics, Fanzines to Zine Culture — the names may change, but one thing remains constant: they are all reproduced, on paper. No matter the decade, subject matter, or economics involved, comics have always been linked to print. With physical objects no longer being a necessity (and the book form itself on the decline), what will be the role of print culture in the next decade and beyond?
• Review: "Tim Kreider is a great caricaturist, as his latest collection of cartoons, Twilight of the Assholes, attests. He has a real knack for portraying the unsightly physical traits of modern Americans– the rolls of fat, the paunchy stomachs, the jowls, flabby arms and chinless faces — that make up more of the current populace than we’d care to admit (myself included). Plus, he’s got a nice, razor-sharp wit that really cuts to the absurdity of a particular stance or issue, and he isn’t afraid to get nasty or break a taboo to make his point, which can be refreshing." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "Cleverly constructed, laconically laid out in the classic nine-panel-grid picture structure and rendered in comfortingly mundane style a la Charles Burns, King of the Flies is a landmark in metafictional mystery tales. [...R]eaders will have to wait for the concluding book to discover how this stunning, mesmerising amalgam of Twin Peaks, Desert Palms, Peyton Place, The Omen and Blue Velvet plays out. A stylish and magical portmanteau saga of a community cursed with an excess of human frailty – lust, rage, greed, despair and especially shallow selfishness – this is a story that will surprise, compel, distress and haunt anybody with even half an imagination. Darkly addictive, casually violent and graphically sexual, King of the Flies is 'adults only' and well worth waiting until you’re 18 for." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Review: "This is a story about purpose, inertia, the road blocks we throw up for ourselves and the ways in which we are forced to interact with a demanding and frequently demeaning world. This book feels intimate because unlike his past work, Sammy the Mouse has an immediacy to it that’s quite different in tone from his earlier, more distant (but no less visceral) comics. [...] Sally’s comics have an ugly physical quality to them that I’ve always liked, but the two-color process he uses here pushes the ugly/beautiful tension even further. [...] The care and thought that Sally put into adapting his comic into the Ignatz format shows on every page and makes the story resonate all the more." – Rob Clough, The Comics Journal
• Review: "It’s hard to decide which Ignatz book is the best-looking purely from an aesthetic standpoint, but Leila Marzocchi’s Niger has to be in consideration. It’s another series that’s dominated by two tones (in this case, rust red and a chalky blue) that’s remarkable to behold simply in terms of its mark-making. There’s a lushness to this series, in the way Marzocchi uses a scratchy technique that makes her figures and backgrounds look as though they were less drawn than constructed with dense webs of color. Her figures are fabulously exaggerated, all curves and bulbous noses. Everyone is larger than life, creating a sort of mysterious and slightly dark fairy tale atmosphere for this story. [...] It’s an easy comic to follow and probably the friendliest to non-comics readers in the Ignatz line. While its ideas are original, its familiar feel creates a certain immediate comfort level for the reader as they delve into a strange and beautiful world. It’s as though Niger is a favorite old fairy tale whose memory is just out of reach." – Rob Clough, The Comics Journal
• Review: "Instead of writing about the [Prince Valiant] series as a whole (or at least, those volumes I have read), I decided to do another one-page criticism. After much debate with myself I selected the page... dated December 1, 1940, appearing at the end of volume 2. In some respects this is a typical Hal Foster page, but in many ways it is not, which is partially why I chose it." – Derik Badman, The Panelists
• Plug: "ROY CRANE Mania! Just got my copy of Buz Sawyer: War in the Pacific, this and the Captain Easy volumes are long overdue. Thrilling stuff! Roy Crane is one of the unsung greats! Thrilling, charming, infectious masterful storytelling. Probably in my top five favorite cartoonists. Roy Crane drew some of the most subtly sexy women ever. ...[H]uzzah to Fantagraphics! Okay, I'm insane for Roy Crane. It may look old fashioned at first glance, but trust me, once you dive in you'll eat it up!" – Mike Allred
• Plug: "[Love and Rockets: New Stories #3] was as amazing as folks said it was. No knock against Gilbert, but Jaime murdered it this time around, absolutely killed, fired on all cylinders, drowned it in ink. Jeepers, someone give that man a cartooning medal." – Evan Dorkin
• Plug: "I forgot how much I enjoyed reading Carol Tyler's comics when I was tripping over them in various anthologies in the 80's/90's. I stumbled across this book [Late Bloomer] while cleaning up in the basement where all the comics that don't fit anywhere sleep, and was happy to revisit these pieces, as well as material I hadn't read before. The perils of buying a book and putting it aside for too long. Funny, warm, human, honest, occasionally beautiful/heartbreaking 'life' comics." – Evan Dorkin
• Plug: "I love Roy Crane and I'm super-happy [Captain Easy Vol. 1] is in print. Cartoonists and cartoonist-wonks, take heed, there is some beautiful work to be pored over here. ...Crane = Master." – Evan Dorkin
• Plug: "Regular readers of this blog will be aware of the release of Stigmata (Fantagraphics) just a few weeks ago. Featuring expressionist master Lorenzo Mattotti's swirling, cross-hatched pen line as if the story were recounting the fading memory of a dream about a drunk who one day wakes up marked with stigmata. It's an intense and perfectly balanced story, in hard cover with a wonderful Mattotti painting on the cover and it deserves to be a flagship title for any graphic novel collection." – Dave's Comics
• Interview: At The Comics Journal, Ian Burns talks to Shaun Partridge, writer of the Josh Simmons-drawn Mome serial "The White Rhinoceros" (part 1 of 3): "I think fun is the law. You should really enjoy life and laugh. That’s what comedy’s all about. Which is also alchemical, because you’re taking something that is unpleasant and making jokes about it. You know, Dave Chappelle’s a master alchemist. Larry David’s an alchemist."
A segment featuring Zak Sally will run on Twin Cities Public Television's new weekly arts series, MN Original, premiering on Thursday, December 30 at 7:30 PM (with a full schedule of repeats following). Viewers in Minnesota can tune in to Channel 2, and the segment will also be available online — we'll be sure to post it when it is.