It has been a long time coming, but we have at long last finalized the proofs for the monumental, deluxe five-volume collection that is The Complete Zap Comix. We hope this 60-page, 23.5 MB excerpt, sampling the first dozen or so pages from each book, will temporarily whet your appetites for what's to come.
Now it's full steam ahead with the production of this exquisite, comprehensive book set, and we anticipate it to land in bookstores by late November. It's not too late to start saving up couch coins and spare change in your piggy bank to fund your underground comix habit!
This deluxe, lovingly-designed slipcase is for The Complete Zap Comix, and we are incredibly excited to be able to show you this first glimpse of what the final product will look like. The comprehensive collection will include every single issue and cover of Zap produced, as well as the unpublished 17th issue and the mini comic jam Zam—a deservedly luxurious homage to the vanguard of underground comics artists of our time.
The unbroken bottom ring of your three-ring binder Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review: Patrick Smith over at Spandexless cracks his knuckles and reads all of The End of the Fucking World mini-comics by Charles Forsman. Smith states,"Overall though, it’s a story about extremes and the kind of nihilistic worldview that only a teenager could have, while also adding on certain discerning touches that separates this book from so many other teenage melodramas." Forsman's complete The End of the Fucking World is slated for release in 2013.
• Review:Zap #2 gets Boing-Boinged. Adam Parfrey speaks on the series of ZAP comics that we will publish next year. "Throughout the book were pages of strange nightmare scenes in an quasi-psychedelic art style I had never seen before and didn't really understand."
• Interview: Print Mag posted the second part of their Roger Langridge interview where he mentions, "Top of the list right now is a Fred the Clown graphic novel. I'm thinking it might be a good time to return to the character, because I've had critical success, if not commercial success, with a couple of other things now."
• Review: "Originally appearing from 1958 to 1960, these insouciant, stylish, and thrilling dramas should appeal to readers of all ages. If they don't hook a whole new batch of bande dessinée fans, France needs to take back the Statue of Liberty in a huff.... Both stories zip by with nary a dull patch. Confections lacking in gravitas, they nevertheless own the supreme virtues of lightness and panache. Tillieux's art is always easy on the eye.... If Spielberg is looking for a second franchise after Tintin, he couldn't go wrong with Gil Jordan." – Paul Di Filippo, The Barnes & Noble Review
• Review: "Thanks to well known translator Matt Thorn, this volume is a very smooth read. I don’t often comment on such things, but Thorn took great care in interpreting and presenting this book, and it pays off in a very pleasing flow of text. The art is also quite lovely, very simplistic, and flows well from panel to panel. The color pages in the beginning have a beautiful, water color look to them. Fantagraphics has put out a gorgeous hardcover book with Wandering Son." – Kristin Bomba, ComicAttack.net
• Review: "Fantagraphics’ The Pin-Up Art of Humorama collects hundreds of racy cartoons from the once-ubiquitous tasteless humor mag.... The Fantagraphics edition, edited by Alex Chun and Jacob Covey, 'remasters' these toons with a two-color treatment that really captures the graphic feel of the mouldering pulps that still grace the ends of yard-sale tables in cities across America. It must be said that none of these are very funny, but they’re often quite beautiful and nostalgic." – Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing
• Review: "Every once in a while, a book comes along that is simply spectacular. This collection of [Mickey Mouse] comic strips by Floyd Gottfredson is a perfect example of how to present, analyze and reconstruct subject matter that is viewed differently today. The series editors (David Gerstein and Gary Groth) pull no punches in discussing why Mickey was carrying a gun or the use of slang that is noticeably offensive by today's standards. This is a wonderful vehicle for presenting historically accurate art. Other companies should take notice.... This is a stunning work. The historical presentation is flawless, as is the artwork." – George Taylor, Imaginerding
• Review: "[In Celluloid], McKean is attempting to subvert hardened notions of both comics and pornography. It's a book that gets the blood racing just as it raises questions that just won't go away about the nature of art, porn, and the male gaze.... By painting an erotic sequence with a surrealist's brush, McKean reveals the raw sexual current that underscores all pornography." – Peter Bebergal, Bookslut
• Review: "An unapologetically hard-core hardcover, Celluloid follows a young woman’s sexual epiphany... and feels almost like a silent, erotic Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, with the White Rabbit and the rabbit-hole replaced by an ancient movie camera and a doorway to…somewhere else. By itself, typically, McKean’s technical mastery (beginning with pen and ink and finishing with photography) steals the breath away; ditto his visual motifs — involving fruit, say, or eyes. A bravura performance, Celluloid (which ends, by the way, with signal wit) constitutes an astounding fusion of the Dionysiac and the Apolline, in Nietzschean terms, and less invites reading than demands rereading." – Bryan A. Hollerbach, PLAYBACK:stl
• Review: "In the oneiric power of his work as a writer/artist, Jim Woodring enjoys few rivals in contemporary comics... Within the first ten pages of Congress of the Animals, calamity literally descends on poor Frank in the form of a wood-boxed croquet set. In the next ten, our bucktoothed, bobtail boyo suffers both a labor dispute and a credit crisis, and thereafter, in the U.S. in 2011, it should come as no surprise that things fast go from bad to worse; just for starters, Frank has to enter the working world. Ameliorating all of his tribulations, at least from readers’ vantage, are his creator’s nonpareil pen and undulant line — a quivery visual seduction courtesy of Higgins. Moreover, by the finale, Frank’s [spoiler redacted – Ed.] — so the little guy ain’t doin’ too bad, y’know?" – Bryan A. Hollerbach, PLAYBACK:stl
• Review: "LikeWeathercraft, this new work [Congress of the Animals] is completely silent, showcasing Woodring's amazing talent to convey a story without a word, with seemingly little effort. It's just an eye-popping visual feast of amazing illustrations in this crazy world where Woodring can put whatever he wants on the page, to a stunning end result." – Dave Ferraro, Comics-and-More (via the SPX Tumblr)
• Review: "How wrong I was to underestimate the powerful storytelling medium of the emerging graphic novel platform, especially when masterfully rendered by an author and artist as remarkably talented as Santiago. I expected an exciting visual presentation, and was not disappointed, as Santiago’s heavy-lined, representational graphic style was, in turn whimsical, arresting, quirky, and most of all, emotional. But I wasn’t prepared for the wonderfully passionate portrayal of the human side of Clemente’s legendary journey from Puerto Rico into baseball immortality.... Captivating, revealing, and dramatic, 21 accomplished through art, creative use of informed imagination, and pure passion, far more than I thought possible from a graphic novel. I believe I now have a more complete picture of Roberto Clemente, but not of his statistics, or even his style of play, or of his place in baseball history. I have a truer sense of his heart." – Mark W. Schraf, Spitball
Gracie: Charlie Brown! He's the one who thinks, "Life is going bad... I'm an awful person... Nothing good ever happens to me..." Dad: Would you be friends with him? Gracie: I would. I love him. My love for him goes to the ceiling of a skyscraper. But nothing good ever happens to him ever. Once he won a race -- that's probably the only thing he's ever won. And the prize was 5 free haircuts... Dad: Ha! Gracie: He's only got a twist of hair in front. And he's like, "Five free hair cuts? I don't have much hair to cut! And even if I did... my dad is a barber!" Dad: Poor Charlie Brown. Gracie: Yeah, nothing good ever happens to him. He's always getting teased for his perfectly round head.
• Interview:The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon talks with Stan Sakai: "Usagi was first published 27 years ago, and that time I just concentrated on the next story. It was around maybe... I would say with book four, The Dragon Bellow Conspiracy. That was the first major storyline. It took maybe 10 issues or something, I'm not exactly sure. Maybe eight issues.... Before then, I was thinking, 'Usagi's going to be canceled any month.' [laughter] 'I can't spend too much time devoting myself to a long storyline.' But once I did that and got over that hurdle, that's when I realized that hey, this could go on for a long time."
• List:The Hooded Utilitarian begins revealing the top 10 results in their International Best Comics Poll, with Walt Kelly's Pogo coming in at #8
• Plug: "A trip to the comics shop yesterday netted me a copy of Drew Weing’s Set to Sea. It’s pure indulgence, because I have already read the story online, but Fantagraphics’ small, almost jewel-like presentation is really beautiful. Weing tells his story one panel at a time, and each panel could be framed as a work of art in itself, so having it in a book, without the clutter of the web, is a worthy investment." – Brigid Alverson, Robot 6
• Scene:Comic Book Resources' Marlan Harris gives a recap of our 35th Anniversary panel at Comic-Con — unfortunately it contains several factual errors, some of which I have endeavored to correct in the comments thread
• Commentary: We're pleased (really) to see Adult Video News picking up on our announcement of The Complete ZAP Comix, despite some glaring fact-checking errors in their report (see if you can spot 'em!)
• Review: "The coolest reprints of the year have hit the shelves as Fantagraphics tears it up by releasing Floyd Gottfredson’s run on the comic strip Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse. To start with, this is a great edition of the material. It looks great, the black and white art is classically bold and pops right off the pages at you, and it’s over 200 pages and bound in a nice hardcover. Readers of this column and site know I can be a little judgmental about the quality of reprints, but there is no need for frowns here as they have done an A+ job. They even packaged it with essays on the strip and artists, and even gave us Mickey’s jungle adventure which ran in the strip before Gottfredson stepped aboard.... Each stroke of ink is perfect under Gottfredson’s direction, and the best years of the comic strip result entirely from the genius of his that lies in these pages." – Drew McCabe, ComicAttack.net
• Plug: "An icon in the animation world, Gottfredson is accredited with making the Mickey strip into a masterpiece, and an imaginative series that is still greatly sought-after by comic fans and collectors.... While the first volume will include some of the series’ more rough and experimental ideas that came before the characters had really found their proper place, this seems like a worthwhile purchase for the traditional Mickey-lover. After all, there is something to be said for the origins of Mr. Mouse and his incredible transformation over the years." – Amanda Correia, The Disney Blog
• Review: "Weathercraft feels like a day-in-the-life story. It’s a weird and wild one, but you don’t have to know anything going on, you just experience it. ...Weathercraft has an arc and a story and all that, but it’s probably not exactly what you’d think if you’re more used to traditional comics. Still, it’s a great piece of fiction to pick up and really experience..." – T.J. Dietsch, United Monkee (via Sean T. Collins)
• Review: "...I’ll admit it: I did not expect to read a Frank book whose final panel made me go 'Awwww!' ...[T]he journey [in Congress of the Animals] takes Frank so far afield that at some point (probably when he gets lost at sea and washes up on some distant shore) he ends up outside the Unifactor’s confines. New information can now enter his world... And at that point all hell breaks loose…which in a Frank comic is to say it doesn’t break loose at all." – Sean T. Collins, Attentiondeficitdisorderly
• Review: "I don't think I'll ever stop marveling at the amazing artwork [Woodring] fills his books with. It contains some of the most solid and tangible representations of fantastical objects and events I've ever seen, along with a deeply unsettling atmosphere, something that either creeps me out or turns my stomach to look at it. There's something about the plantlike growths on animal creatures, the gaping orifices, and the plentiful eyeballs that, while obviously unnatural, goes a step further into a visceral gut-punch, somehow keying into a subconscious urge to look away. This aspect of the work has been present in other Frank stories I've seen, but Woodring seems to crank it up to near-unbearable levels [in Congress of the Animals]..." – Matthew J. Brady, Warren Peace Sings the Blues
• Review: "I recently read the first volume of Jules Feiffer's collected Village Voice comic strips [Explainers], from the 1950s and early 1960s. Reading ten years' worth of weekly strips in a few days probably wasn't the best idea, but I was still amazed at how well Feiffer's early work has aged. Not just the stuff about relationships, but the stuff about politics still works. I guess that's not surprising, since relationships and politics haven't changed much in fifty years." – This Is So Gay
• Scene:Comic Book Resources' Sonia Harris recaps the Love and Rockets anniversary panel at Comic-Con, and in plugging the article (and commenting on Gilbert's revelations) at CBR's Robot 6 Sean T. Collins calls it "pure L&R-nerd heaven for a whole bunch of reasons," which is 100% accurate
• Interview:Bust Magazine's Erina Davidson has a Q&A session with Megan Kelso: "I try not to fall into the trap of thinking something is interesting simply because 'it happened to ME.' Personal memories and experiences are wonderful catalysts, and I think essential to making work seem believable and relatable, but they are rarely enough. One needs also to do some embroidery."
• Interview (Audio): Our Associate Publisher Eric Reynolds appeared on Ed Wenck's program on Indianapolis news radio station WIBC to talk about our forthcoming EC Comics and ZAP Comix reprint projects — listen to the segment here
Tom Spurgeon of The Comics Reporter had first crack at reporting on our EC Comics Library series and talked to our chief and editor of the series, Gary Groth: "The intention, says the publisher, is to present the material to a new generation that may not have been exposed to the EC Comics except in fits and starts, and to better underline specific artistic achievements of creators like Harvey Kurtzman, Wally Wood and Bernard Krigstein.... 'I'm leaning toward treating each individual book as an individual book, customized to the individual artist,' Groth stated. 'I want to get away from treating EC Comics as this kind of cultist monolith. I want the stories to stand on their own.'" Be sure to read the whole thing for many more details.
Meanwhile, over at Robot 6 Chris Mautner broke the news about The Complete ZAP Comix and posted an exclusive Q&A with Gary Groth: "We’re going to reproduce it in a facsimile form, the book will have the covers interspersed throughout, so it will be each issue of the comic chronologically published in the same format as the comic itself, but simply in book form. We’re going to be printing it a little larger than the comic, I don’t know the exact dimensions. It will be oversize, a little larger than the comic itself. The covers will be reproduced in full color, as they were in the original comics." Head over there for the full scoop.
Here's a roundup of more reaction to both announcements from around the web:
Boing Boing's David Pescovitz: "First published in 1968, Zap Comix is considered to be the freaky forefather of the underground comix movement that still thrives today. Created by R. Crumb, the Zap #1 solely featured his work with subsequent issues introducing such groundbreaking artists as S. Clay Wilson, Robert Williams, Gilbert Shelton, Rick Griffin, Victor Moscoso, Paul Mavrides, and 'Spain' Rodriguez. Today, Fantagraphics Books keeps the Zap spirit alive and so I was thrilled to learn that they’ve just announced the forthcoming publication of The Complete Zap Comix. The 800 page, two-volume, slipcased, hardcover set will hit stores in Fall 2012."
The A.V. Club's Noel Murray: "Continuing Fantagraphics’ master plan to separate comics fans from their life savings, the company announced two new archival projects at Comic-Con last week... Both the Zap book and the EC series are due to arrive in 2012, joining Fantagraphics’ other archival lines — like the series collecting the newspaper stripsPeanuts, Popeye, Krazy Kat, Mickey Mouse, and soon Pogo and Nancy — as well as the ongoing work of such modern masters as Peter Bagge, Jason and Los Bros Hernandez. So… all the more reason for congress to work together to avert a catastrophic meltdown of the global economy, yes?"
Sean T. Collins at Attentiondeficitdisorderly: "I’m excited about this [EC] project, not just because with Peanuts and Mickey Mouse and the Disney Ducks and Popeye and Krazy Kat and so on Fantagraphics has established itself as the best publisher of archival material, but because their approach here sounds like it’ll be more along the lines of what they’ve done for Jacques Tardi recently, or even the Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez Love and Rockets digests. They’re very good at that sort of thing, too."
Collins also reports for Robot 6: "What sets the Fantagraphics reprint project apart is that individual creators’ work will be culled from the series in which it appeared and presented in a series of black-and-white solo spotlight volumes."
Comic Book Resources' Augie de Blieck: "Fantagraphics has picked up the license to reprint EC Comics. These will be black and white editions, most interestingly broken up by creator. Some of the purists may sputter at that, but I think it's a smart thing. Anthologies don't sell well in this market, even as reprints. I think targeting specific creators in an industry filled with fans who follow creators is the best way to maximize the license."
Chris Marshall at Collected Comics Library: "Well here’s some news we’ve been waiting for a long time.... I admit that I’m a little disappointed that the color Gemstone [EC Archives] books won’t be finished, but I’m confident that Fantagraphics will to a wonderful job and I’ll be sure to collect them."
Fantagraphics Books President and Co-Publisher Gary Groth announced today at Comic-Con International that the Seattle-based publisher has entered into an agreement to publish The Complete ZAP Comix in Fall of 2012.
ZAP remains the best-known and most influential underground comic of all-time, and in many ways is Ground Zero for the entire field of underground, alternative, literary and art comics that exists today. Created by Robert Crumb, it was one of the defining events in the counterculture of the 1960s and singlehandedly launched the “underground comix” era.
“ZAP took comics from children to adults, crushing The Comics Code Authority in the process,” proclaimed ZAP artist Victor Moscoso.
The Complete ZAP Comix will be published as a two-volume, slipcased hardcover set, printed slightly larger than the original comics, and shot from the original negatives to the comic books, ensuring the finest reproduction ever seen of the material. It will also include the rarely-seen ZAM, a one-shot mini-comic/jam spinoff of ZAP from 1974, as well as other supplementary features, interviews with the artists, and other surprises.
“ZAP may be the most significant series in the history of American comics,” said Fantagraphics President and Co-Publisher Gary Groth. “Its cultural preeminence is the result of artistic merit, not collectibility or economics and that sets it apart from most comics series that have achieved this level of public awareness or notoriety. The artists that Crumb invited into ZAP each proved to be a stylistic virtuoso with a unique point of view and an uncompromising vision. ZAP was the vanguard of a movement that segued into the alternative comics of the ’80s and the graphic novels of the ’00s. We couldn’t be prouder to collect this landmark series in its entirety in a beautifully packaged two-volume set.”
Originally printed by Beat writer Charles Plymell in an edition of around 3,500 copies, ZAP #1 was the first title published by the late Don Donahue under the Apex Novelties imprint, and was infamously sold on the streets of Haight-Ashbury out of a baby stroller pushed by Crumb’s ex-wife, Dana. Over time, the series’ 16 issues have sold millions of copies.
Although R. Crumb had initially created ZAP as a showcase for his own work, the success of the first issue led him to open up the pages of subsequent issues to several other artists. He invited his peers S. Clay Wilson, Robert Williams, “Spain” Rodriguez, Gilbert Shelton, Victor Moscoso and Rick Griffin to join him, effectively creating an artists’ collective that has remained mostly constant in the subsequent decades; when Rick Griffin died in 1991, the artist Paul Mavrides was invited to join the group.
“Fantagraphics’ The Complete ZAP Comix, as designed by Victor Moscoso, will be a classy item for the bookshelves of underground comics fans — those who can afford it, that is,” said ZAP artist Gilbert Shelton. “I imagine most of the original readers wish they still had their copy of the first edition of ZAP #1, which sells for over ten thousand dollars now, if in perfect condition. But part of the secret of the success of underground comix was that they were cheaply produced and turned yellow and fell apart quickly, and also that they were borrowed and never returned by one’s friends, thereby forcing you to buy another copy. This will not happen with the new collected edition, which will be produced under the most rigorous of quality control.”
“Much as the effect EC’s MAD had on the mid-20th Century, ZAP was equally influential and disruptive to cultural mores at the end of the 20th Century, but without the hindrance of the old comic book code that cramped graphic novel expression for 40 years,” said ZAP artist Robert Williams. “I’m very pleased that Fantagraphics will release this long-awaited compendium of ZAP Comix.”
“When Robert Crumb started ZAP in 1968, no one had any idea that it would still be alive 45 years later,” Shelton added. “This exercise in anarchy — there were never any rules, restrictions, or editorial policy — is still the flagship of the underground comics movement. I tried, and failed, to get my fellow ZAPsters to correct their spelling errors, but they would not be subjected to such editorial tyranny. I also wanted to let other artists into the group, but it was decided to restrict the number of contributors to seven. So be it. Spell free or die, I now say.”
Fantagraphics will be publishing the The Complete ZAP Comix in Fall of 2012.
The Complete ZAP Comix By: R. Crumb, S. Clay Wilson, Robert Williams, Spain Rodriguez, Gilbert Shelton, Victor Moscoso, Rick Griffin, & Paul Mavrides Release Date: Fall 2012 Page Count: 800 PP Black & White • Two-Volume, Slipcased Hardcover Set
"Andrew Edlin Gallery is pleased to present Zap: Masters of Psychedelic Art, 1965-74, curated by Gary Panter and Chris Byrne. The exhibition will include works by the seven artists from the original Zap lineup: Robert Crumb, Victor Moscoso, Rick Griffin, S. Clay Wilson, Gilbert Shelton, Spain Rodriguez and Robert Williams. The focus of the show is the early days of Zap, when these artists begat their visionary deconstruction of the comic book with remarkable innovations in storytelling and drawing. An accompanying catalogue is being published by the gallery."