Online Commentary & Diversions — catching up from MoCCA weekend, with more catch-up tomorrow:
• Award: Congratulations to David Sandlin for receiving a 2010-2011 fellowship from the New York Public Library’s Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers. "The fellowship lasts from September to May. Each fellow gets an office in the library’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, full access to the library’s research collections, and a stipend, which last year was $60,000," reports Kate Taylor of The New York Times. Not too shabby!
• Review: "Few people alive today are old enough to remember World War I, and as it recedes into the past, the 'war to end all wars' becomes more abstract. But French cartoonist Jacques Tardi's graphic novel, It Was The War of the Trenches..., brings the Great War to life in all its mud- and blood-soaked misery. Without a trace of sentimentality, Tardi's richly detailed and grimly rendered vignettes depict the horror, illness, cruel manipulations, and stupidity of this giant black spot in human history." – Mark Frauenfelder, Boing Boing
• Review: "Long-lost astronauts, homicidal bloggers, baseball legends and wayward skaters all find a home in John Pham’s captivating comic series Sublife. With only two issues on the street, Sublife has already established an achingly familiar universe in all of its disparate ongoing narratives. Deftly juggling the melancholy of Adrian Tomine’s Optic Nerve with some Cormac McCarthy-inspired apocalyptic action and plenty of skillfully subdued deadpan humor, Pham proves himself a master of multifarious emotions and artist stylings." – We Love You So
• Review: "While I enjoyed Sakai's artwork in the first volume, this second trade collection is even stronger. ... I'm so glad I'm finally sitting down and reading this series, and my only regret is that I didn't do it sooner. Usagi Yojimbo is a great addition to the canon of samurai stories, and is definitely highly recommended for anyone who is a fan of wandering ronin or just good storytelling." – Rob McMonigal, Panel Patter
• Review: "Culture Corner remains a curiosity in comic book history, rarely remembered, rarely seen, but Basil Wolverton’s status as an important figure in humor cartooning is unimpeachable. Thus, anybody wanting to understand the development of the medium and the evolution of comedy cartooning should pick up Culture Corner to see how Wolverton began the road to comic book legend. Most of the strips have never been seen by today’s readers, and the sheer number of unpublished penciled sketches makes this book a true rarity and a must-have." – Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama
• Review: "I can honestly say that the further we dive into the murky depths of Newave!, the better it gets. Hot on the heels of all the anarchic fun of the first thirty mini comics, come ten more that show, in various ways, a little extra sophistication in content or execution." – Avoid the Future continues their mini-reviews of the contents of Newave! The Underground Mini Comix of the 1980s; this is from part 4, and I think we may have missed linking to part 2 and part 3
• Plug: At IdeaFixa, Claudio Yuge says that reading Love and Rockets "was one of the best things I ever did in life and I recommend it for anyone who likes comics and graphic arts in general." (translated from Portuguese)
• Commentary:Comic Book Galaxy's Christopher Allen & Alan David Doane comment on this year's Eisner nominees, of which we have several; there's too much for me to quote from here
• Interview:Comic Book Resources' Shaun Manning talks to Jim Woodring about Weathercraft: "In a lot of ways, Manhog is the most interesting character in the Unifactor. He has the most potential for change and the widest range of dramatic possibilities. Besides, it's fun to put him in awful circumstances and watch him suffer. There's something about a big fat guy screaming in terror that's just naturally funny. Oliver Hardy got a lot of mileage out of that formula."
• Interview: The Inkstuds radio programme talks with Mome contributor (and, now, kids-comics superstar) Eleanor Davis
• Review: "There are two types of war stories: war as the great human drama, man accomplishing amazing feats in the most horrible of circumstances, or war as the great human tragedy, the ultimate loss of life without any rhyme or reason. Tardi’s book fits very firmly into the latter category. ... Ink-soaked and gory, Tardi’s detailed renderings drive home the grotesquery of the war and the ordeal of the young men fighting in it. ...It Was the War of the Trenches creates an aura of loss, regret and terror." – Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama
• Review: "Ghost World feels like a really apt bit of social history to me now, rather than a piercing look at real life. I believe it, but I believe it happened, not that it happens, at least not quite this way, at the age shown here. But, what is timeless is the theme that crops up towards the end: the unsettling feeling one gets when contemplating the lurch into adulthood." – Christopher King, Timmy's House of Sprinkles
• Plugs: The bloggers at Comics And... Other Imaginary Tales comment on our offerings in the current issue of Previews, including Four Color Fear ("This will be awesome!"), Grotesque #4 ("This is a great story with great art and well worth the money"), and Wally Gropius ("The dichotomy between the clean and wholesome lines and the dirtyness of the story is what's pulling me in.")
• Profile: Christina Whiting of the Homer News reports on Jim Woodring's current residency at the Bunnell Street Arts Center: "The Bunnell gallery space has been transformed into an exhibition of Woodring's art and into a working studio. His work table is covered with pads of paper, bottles of ink, quill pens and unfinished drawings — basic tools of his trade. ... Throughout the month, Woodring also has been working on a 100-page graphic novel, which he plans to publish. The first 20 pages are currently displayed in the gallery exhibit area, and he is adding a new page to the wall every couple of days. 'I'll likely create ten new pages while I'm here,' Woodring said."
• Interview: At The Comics Journal, Alex Dueben talks to Ho Che Anderson about his new book Sand & Fury: "I’ve always been highly, highly influenced by movies, as much if not more so than comics. There were certainly comic book influences on S&F, like Richard Sala’s work and also Richard Corben whom I’m a big fan of, and even a little Jason Lutes though it’d be difficult to see. But it’s true that the majority of the influences were cinematic, particularly Dario Argento and David Lynch."
• Review: "Reading this book was like unearthing a trunkload of old baby pictures… if the babies in question would eventually grow up to become Mad Magazine and Rat Fink. ...[L]ike a Buddy Holly song on an oldies station or WWII-era tattoo flash, some art just stands the test of time and becomes classic. Basil Wolverton’s Culture Corner is a one-of-a-kind work and definitely falls into that category. [Grade: A]" – Chad Derdowski, Mania
• Review: "For some time now, Norwegian cartoonist Jason has been on my shortlist of recommended artists for the uninitiated. ... The next question, naturally, is: which Jason book to start with? Almost Silent... fits the bill perfectly. ... This is the output of an artist with a clear vision who is truly at the top of his game. ... Beautifully bound and reasonably priced, you’re not going to find a much better entry point into the world of contemporary graphic novels than Almost Silent." – Brian Heater, The Daily Cross Hatch
• Review: "...The Last Lonely Saturday [is] pretty much the best love story in comics form I've ever come across. ... It's an intelligent, moving, beautiful, terrific little comic." – Sean T. Collins (we linked to this previously when it ran on The Savage Critics but it's worth re-running)
• Review: "Here’s a book that was initially attractive as an intriguing, if intellectual, curiosity, only to reveal itself in short order as a continually fascinating experience. ... I hope this volume, despite its killer commercial potential, will inspire a second. ...Abstract Comics is the most surprising book of the year." – Rich Kreiner, "Yearlong Best of the Year," The Comics Journal
• Interview:Mr. Media's Bob Andelman talks to Monte Schulz about This Side of Jordan: "My dad read the book before he died. He liked Rascal a lot — 'He's such a funny little guy.' He used to tell me I was raising the level of art in the family." Listen via the embedded player above or at this link, or download the MP3
• History: At Comics Comics, Jeet Heer gives a brief overview and critical commentary on Fantagraphics anthologies throughout the years: "Any complete history of Fantagraphics will have to tell the story of how they slowly learned to put together interesting anthologies."
Another day's worth of Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "...[Portable Grindhouse] is a nice book to have on the shelf, particularly for folks who love movies and are interested in how design has changed over the years. If you still spend time wandering around video stores looking for the weird and wonderful, check this book out." – Syung Myung Me, Kittysneezes
• Review: "I love this book. I'm probably biased because I was a newave cartoonist and I was lucky enough to have two pages included (78 & 79) in this little slice of comix history. ... The overall quality of the material is very high. ... It's a beautiful volume with production values far more impressive than the original comix it reprints. ... Newave! is a wonderful sampler of what the mini comix of the 1980s where all about. ... Now, at last, Michael Dowers and Fantagraphics have brought those little-known 8-pagers out into the light and given them an appropriate place in comix history." – Richard Krauss, Comic Related
• Review: "Esther Pearl Watson's Unlovable leaves me breathless and with sore abs from laughter. What a great work out." – Brett Von Schlosser, via Facebook
• Interview: On The Comix Claptrap podcast, hosts "Thien and Rina get to talk to Harvey Award-winning and Ignatz-nominated, Steven 'Ribs' Weissmanwho has a new book out with Fantagraphics Books called Chocolate Cheeks. In this interview, Steven talks about the origin of the Yikes! gang, shares his insight on juggling comics-making with having a family, and discusses his web comics "Barack Hussein Obama" and his contributions to the 'What Things Do' comics website. We also try, in vain, to get more LA cartoonist gossip."
• Do-gooding: Once again Michael Kupperman is lending his talents to the annual WFMU pledge drive; Robot 6's Sean T. Collins has all the details
• Dame Darcy is having another print sale/painting raffle (that's the painting above; the print is different), and also taking commissions for wedding invitations — all this and more on her latest blog update
Online Commentary & Diversions, now with images... what am I, nuts?? At least it's a short one:
• Review: "If sound effects like 'SNEEZEBLOOD!!' or prayer fights make you laugh, Chocolate Cheeks by Steven Weissman is definitely up your alley. More than that, Weissman’s fantastic art is worth giving this collection a look even if you haven’t read previous 'Yikes' books." (Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars) – Chad Nevett, Comic Book Resources
• Interview:Paul Hornschemeier reports on his blog: "I sat down with Brandon Wetherbee of the You, Me, Them, Everybody podcast to skip across topics such as mystery novels, crayons, Curt Swan, Robert Crumb, District 9, sock garters, Pixar, syndicated cartoons, Spider-Man, touring with bands, and facial moisturizer. A good time was had by all in a tiny room."
• List:The Browser's Roland Chambers talks to comics scholar and junior fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows Hillary Chute about her top five graphic narratives, including Aline Kominsky-Crumb's Love That Bunch: "To me, Aline is one of the most important figures in comics, which isn’t to say that she’s one of the most well-known. She’s not. But her comics have inspired a legion of cartoonists working in comics autobiography: specifically women cartoonists, because Aline published the first ever autobiographical comic from a woman’s point of view."
• Review: "King has long been a figure so ubiquitous in American culture that little of his true self remains in his frequently invoked image and words. Anderson does the man a favor by taking a spiky, fractured approach to his subject and refusing to plant a halo on his troubled head. ... Though all the great moments of his civil rights battle are here (from the March on Washington to his less-successful housing campaign in Chicago), Anderson doesn't resort to the cheap cinematic trick of success and fadeout. There is more disappointment here than celebration, suffused with the sorrowful sense of a long, long battle just barely begun. A crowning achievement, like the man it portrays." – Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
• Review: "...Columbia's most disturbing material yet. ... he remains one of the finest horrorists (if such a word exists and I may be allowed to use it) working in comics today, far exceeding what is generally held to be the standard of excellence in the genre, via his ability to convey a terrible sense of dread and foreboding. ... As disjointed and narratively frustrating as Pim and Francie can be at times, it remains a stunning and haunting work that preys on your mind long after you've finished it. The successive wave upon wave of unsettling imagery builds upon subsequent page to suggest a world of constant pain and surreal terror, where hiding places are few and far between. ... The sheer level of craftsmanship and imagination on display makes this a book well worth reading for those who can bear its mordant message." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
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