Enjoy "Good Grief: The Story of Peanuts", a half-hour BBC Radio 4 audio documentary on Charles M. Schulz and Peanuts, hosted by Pete Paphides, who talks to Jean Schulz and members of Schulz's family as well as fans like Chris Ware, Chip Kidd and Russell T. Davies, interspersed with vintage clips of Schulz himself and audio from the Peanuts TV specials. (Via Bleeding Cool.)
• Review: "So, big shit poppin’ in Mome 20. Good thing it’s also pretty good! ...[W]hat works works really well thanks mostly to bravura cartooning. [...] Here’s to 20 more volumes of this occasionally frustrating, occasionally fascinating, always worth reading series." – Sean T. Collins, Attentiondeficitdisorderly
• Review: "Time travel is impossible but a good anthology can sometimes be ordered in such a way that we can get a better sense of how works of art looked to their earliest audience. That’s something Supermen! achieves, so it’s a book I’m holding on to." – Jeet Heer, Comics Comics
• Interview:The Daily Cross Hatch's Brian Heater talked to Jaime Hernandez at SPX — from Part 1: "I guess I was pretty good at copying. When I got older, I thought it was bad to copy, because you weren’t a real artist. That’s bull, because I found that when I would copy something, I could draw it for the rest of my life. Let’s say I copied a car or a cart or a certain kind of chair. If I copied it, I could say, 'oh, hey, that turned out pretty good, and, oh hey, I know how to draw it for the next twenty years.'"
• Interview (Audio): Mark E. Hayes of the Passing Notes radio show/podcast talks to Jaime Hernandez "about the latest Love and Rockets, comics-to-movies, and Archie. Yes, that Archie."
• Review: "I enjoyed Tardi’s art, which made me feel as though I was visiting 1911 Paris. [...] The stories are dense and packed with outrageous events, providing a sense of adventure. The recaps, as characters explain what’s going on to each other, were both a help... and a satire, reinforcing just how much Tardi is playing with the conventions of the genre and layering event upon event, a kitchen-sink approach to plotting that keeps the reader interested in a world that seems so sedate but where anything can happen. [... The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec Vol. 1] is fun, but with the knowing remove of self-awareness and satire." – Johanna Draper Carlson, Comics Worth Reading
• Review: "Some of the conversations are amusing and the awkward silences of real life relationships are nicely portrayed by silent panels and the characters body language. The eight panel grids are the same on every page but that's not a bad thing. [Werewolves of Montpellier] is not the kind of tale that calls for spectacular graphics." – Eamonn Murphy, SF Crowsnest
• Review: "Set to Sea by Drew Weing... is about 150 pages long, but only has one illustration per page. It is always a good illustration, and this story of a would-be writer who’s shanghaied into being a pirate is great fun. Weing’s art is cartoony, but that helps lessen the violence of ship to ship battles with boarding parties hacking at each other with cutlasses. Weing is a young cartoonist to watch." – Mike Rhode, Washington City Paper
• Review: "...[T]he most recent installment in the annual [Love and Rockets] series features a couple of moments that are as technically brilliant and as profoundly moving as anything the series has seen in the past. It’s not easy to get to that level of emotion without collapsing under the weight of your own portentousness, but the Hernandez brothers have managed it." – Bob Temuka, The Tearoom of Despair [Spoiler warning!]
• Review: "As soon as I finished reading the new Love and Rockets, I could only think about how much I want to read further. Definitely it will be some time before the next issue and possibly when it is released I'll admit that it is worth waiting every day, but fortunately for the moment I can always go back to previous work by the brothers Hernandez, and read their latest project again and again." – Aristedes Kotsis, Comicdom (translated from Greek)
• Review: "I know I just got finished explaining that biology is destiny in the Palomar stories. But what struck me upon rereading the material collected in this volume, dominated by the titular story of a serial killer’s stay in the town, is the power of ideas. Not emotional or sexual drives, even, like the web of lust and unrequited love surround Luba’s mother Maria in the suite of stories that forms the second half of the collection, but actual honest-to-god ideas. [...] If Heartbreak Soup showed us Gilbert the literary comics stylist, Human Diastrophism shows us Gilbert the mindfucker — the Gilbert who’s still with us today." – Sean T. Collins, Attentiondeficitdisorderly (a continuation of the "Love and Rocktober" series)
• Interview (audio): Guest co-host Dan Zettwoch gets in on the Carol Tyler interview action in the new episode of The Comix Claptrap podcast — two of my faves together!
• Commentary: "'Frank in the Ruse Garden,' like all the Frank stories, like most of Jim Woodring’s work, is one hundred percent unadulterated Uncanny. Like Jim Woodring saw fever dreams we’d forgotten ages ago, and put them down on paper to remind us. [...] The Unifactor is an animistic world of spirits and strange forces. Time and again, Frank comes in contact with numinous wonders, and fail to rise to the occasion. Frank comes upon a field of floating souls, and grabs one to use as a flying horse. Frank dives into a well ringed with eyes, and emerges mutated and warped. Frank wanders into the House of the Dead wearing a party hat, and it’s, like, awkward." – Wesley Osam, Super Doomed Planet
• Plug: "How could it be Halloween without some horror comics? I’ve been enjoying Four Color Fear, ed. Greg Sadowski, an anthology of ‘50s horror comics from publishers other than EC. I’m only a couple of stories in and, while none have actually scared me, the oversized, full-color book looks to be a wonderful primer on horror-comics history." – guest columnist Sam Costello, Robot 6
Online Commentary & Diversions returns from a sick day:
• Review: "With elegant simplicity, this comic-book fable [Set to Sea] unfurls the tale of a life cast on an unexpected course and the melancholy wisdom accrued upon the waves. First-time graphic-novelist Weing has produced a beautiful gem here, with minimal dialogue, one jolting battle scene, and each small page owned by a single panel filled with art whose figures have a comfortable roundness dredged up from the cartoon landscapes of our childhood unconscious, even as the intensely crosshatched shadings suggest the darkness that sometimes traces the edges of our lives. [...] Weing’s debut is playful, atmospheric, dark, wistful, and wise." – Jesse Karp, Booklist (Starred Review)
• Review: "...[A]n absolutely stunning [book], collecting some of the best and most trenchantly funny illustrations by a contender for the title of America’s Greatest Living Caricaturist in a lavish, full-colour hardback. [...] Friedman is a master craftsman who can draw and paint with breathtaking power, and his work is intrinsically funny. [...] His caricatures are powerful, resonant and joyful, but without ever really descending to the level of graphic malice preferred by such luminaries as Ralph Steadman or Gerald Scarfe. Too Soon? is a book for art lovers, celebrity stalkers and anyone who enjoys a pretty, good laugh." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Review: "...A Drunken Dream showcases the full range of Hagio’s short stories, while also granting readers insight into the themes of lost innocence, family dysfunction and perseverance in the face of abuse that underscore much of her work. [...] With distinct character designs, detailed backgrounds and emotive character acting, Hagio’s artwork conveys the full emotional range of her stories, with dollops of humor mixed into sagas of sadness, survival and hard-won contentment. [...] A Drunken Dream and Other Stories finds another important voice in Japanese comics history washing up on American shores. One hopes that Hagio, whose work manages to be both stark and beautiful, finds a welcoming and receptive audience." – Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama
• Review: Sean T. Collins looks at "La Maggie La Loca" and "Gold Diggers of 1969" from Love and Rockets Vol. II #20 as part of his "Love and Rocktober" series at Attentiondeficitdisorderly: "Maggie may just be an apartment manager anymore, she may now get in way over her head (literally) when she attempts to have a fun island adventure like she used to, but the way Rena sneaks into her room at night just to watch her sleep reveals that the aging heroine could use a dose of the community and camaraderie that's part and parcel of Maggie's dayjob."
• List: Sam Costello of iFanboy names House by Josh Simmons as one of "13 Great Horror Comics for Halloween": "Josh Simmons is some kind of horror savant. There are few really, truly, deeply disturbing comics out there. If you’re willing to take the risk of reading a comic that you’ll literally want to cover your eyes while you read, Simmons’ work is for you. House, his nearly wordless tale of a trio of friends exploring a dilapidated, cavernous mansion, is less explicit, but worth a look. Its suffocating, despairing loneliness is affecting." (Via Robot 6)
• Commentary: "It was like the sky: pleasant, visually appealing, reliable. Peanuts had a Picture of Dorian Gray quality; you kept getting older and more decrepit and more cynical, but it didn't. By the time you started reading it, you were already older than the characters in the strip, so it immediately made you nostalgic for childhood. Not necessarily for your childhood, but for the childhood Lucy and Charlie and Linus were having." – Joe Queenan, The Guardian
• Interview: At Comic Book Resources, Chris Mautner talks to Johnny Ryan about Prison Pit: "I think in a strange way the book(s) are very revealing about myself. I felt as if I was really exposing myself here. I was very anxious about that."
Oh nuts, I'm about to start today's Online Commentary & Diversions and noticed I never published yesterday's in my APE prep frenzy. Here it is:
• Review: "Rip M.D. is near perfect. ...[T]he art is fantastic; with original and distinct designs that border realistic and cartoony, with the best qualities of both carrying a jovial wit, which never balking on making the subject matter truly scary. And the story by Mitch Schauer is told in a clear and concise manner, taking on a sort of fairy tale tone in the beginning that sort of fades by the end. The book on the whole is kid-like in tone, but told with sophistication that one used to see in old Loony Tunes." – Mark L. Miller, Ain't It Cool News
• Review: "Rip M.D. is very sweet all-ages graphic novel... For those... looking for something to share with the family, Rip is an excellent choice. The writer, Mitch Schauer, is clearly a fan of classic monsters and has really had some fun with these characters. The real gem in Rip M.D. is the artwork. Beautiful, beautiful panels that you may want to tear out of the book and put up on your walls. [...] And the colors in this book are just stunning. This is a book that warrants some extra time to just enjoy each page. [...] Ultimately, this is a book that anyone can read and enjoy that would also make an excellent gift to a young reader as a Halloween treat. Score: ★★★★★" – Stephanie Shamblin G, Comic Monsters
• Interview:Squee! talks to Carol Tyler about You'll Never Know in an interview which will run in edited form in the new issue of Ghettoblaster Magazine: "Hardest thing I've ever taken on. So much to juggle: the storyline, the art. The mechanics of making a comic page/book. Oy! I've been at this for four years and I'm still not done! I love it, though. I've had to wrap my life around getting pages done. [...] It's an epic struggle, although worth it a thousand times over."
• Interview (audio):Inkstuds host Robin McConnell chatted with fellow Canadian Dave Cooper while Dave was in Vancouver on his West Coast book tour
"Set to Sea... is the real thing: a one-off nautical action book (a hardcover version of Drew Weing's sweet, lively web-comic) that's a real pleasure to look at and linger over. Every panel-as-page just radiates joy in drawing." – Douglas Wolk
"I positively adore this format. [...] I could pull half or more of the pages in this book and hang them as wall art. [...] I gave this book one of my highest distinctions. I made my girlfriend read it."– Mike Williams
"Man... this book! ...Weing creates a wonderful modulation of tone throughout Set to Sea. [...] Maybe it's corny to call a book about a would-be poet lyrical, but that's exactly what Set to Sea is." – Evan Narcisse
"Set to Sea is just beautiful, emotional in all the right ways, and mixed with unexpected moments to pull it away from sugary sentiment and tweeness... There's such a gentleness here, so much heart, that it's completely compelling, and the way Weing structured it, a panel a page, makes the reading experience wonderfully slow, to match the story. [...] I just really, really loved this book. Like you said, Douglas, this is the real thing." – Graeme McMillan
• Plug:Techland's Mike Williams praises Set to Sea further in his "Panel of the Week" column: "Every page is a single gorgeous cross hatched panel that tells the story of a hulking poet forced into the life of a sailor. Do yourself a favor and go out and buy this small hardcover gem."
• Review: "Portable Grindhouse is a tributary 'don't know what you've got 'till it's gone' love letter to the awesomeness that was the 80s videotape box. [...] Beautifully encased in a faux cardboard videotape box, PG is a stroll through the shameless, sensationalist 'grab me off the shelves!' graphic design exploits and tacky taglines of an era when terrible action films, teen sex comedies, hilarious horror and strange sci-fi oddities still debuted weekly. Airbrushed atrocities and cartoon abominations abound." – Wilfred Brandt, TwoThousand (photo from the article)
• Commentary: "Magic realism in comics is nothing new, of course. The defiance of logic and physics is rooted in its pulp tradition, from superheroes to introspective character studies. Its effect helps us grab on to the ephemeral qualities of our experiences, giving us a shot at understanding their meaning and significance. In that context, its hard not to look at Scott Pilgrim and recall another time-bending tale of the modern comics era, albeit not so epic in its epicness: Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez’s Love and Rockets." – Scott Cederlund, Indie Pulp
• Coming Attractions:Library Journal's "Graphic Novels Prepub Alert" for November releases highlights Linda Medley's Castle Waiting Vol. 2: "Medley's black-and-white art draws on fairy tale standbys to spin a witty, inventive comedy of manners."
• Review: "A refreshing counterpoint to the vampire meme... In true Jason form, Werewolves of Montpellier neatly packs a chockful of romance, recreational crime, and existential thrills in this full-color 48-pager." – Space 15 Twenty
• Review: "Norwegian cartoonist Jason's book The Last Musketeer is the kind of whimsy that's easy to do wrong and nearly impossible to get right, but Jason gets it very right indeed. ... It's a story that follows a dreamlike, comic logic, always silly and always fun, and every page has several large grins waiting to jump onto your face as you read." – Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing
• Review: "It should go without saying that if you’re at all interested in women’s comics or manga, you should buy [A Drunken Dream and Other Stories]. But in all honesty, I think even if you just like comics and beautifully-told stories, this should be a part of your bookshelf. ... Hagio’s art is, of course, constantly gorgeous. ... Thorn’s translation definitely seems to be true to Hagio’s stories. He is obviously a great admirer of her and he does her justice. ... This is a beautiful book by an incredible creator. Whether or not you knew of Hagio before or this is going to be your introduction to her, it’s a book you need to have." – Eden Miller, Comicsgirl
• Review: "Underground comics were once the bastard stepchild of the industry. ... These days though they get their due as actual art, and their slouch towards respectability gets a big boost with Fantagraphics Books’ The Artist Himself: A Rand Holmes Retrospective. The collection combines a fascinating biography of Holmes... with chapters of his finest work... The Canadian rarely gets his due among comics aficionados, but The Artist Himself should go a long way toward putting this underground legend on the list of greats." – Alonso Duralde, Modern Tonic
• Review: At The Comics Journal, Bart Croonenborghs looks at the work of Olivier Schrauwen: "Here are some keywords though for the unintiated: Belgian, comic genius, graphical masterblender, darkly ironic, perfectionist."
• Profile:Santiago Garcia uses the release of The Search for Smilin' Ed by Kim Deitch as "an excuse to get an overview of the latest productions of this extraordinary author, who belongs to the first generation of the West Coast underground and has not stopped working from the 60s until now." (Translated from Spanish; via Bill Kartalopoulos)
• Interview:Larry Reid's appearance on The Marty Riemer Show podcast is now archived for your listening pleasure
• Commentary:The Hooded Utilitarian's critical roundtable on E.C. Segar's Popeye continues as Chris Mautner takes a tangential look at the topper strip Sappo
Our own Larry Reid will be appearing on The Marty Riemer Show webcast/podcast (hosted by the former KMTT morning show host) tomorrow morning at 9:30 AM to talk about the big Bumbershoot comic art exhibit he's curating. Tune in! The other guest on the program: Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire. Larry moves in influential circles, y'all.
• Review: "Originally serialized in the late ‘90s, this cartwheeling shaggy-dog story begins, like a lot of metafiction, with the semblance of reality... But by the time a frog demon reanimates a 19th-century French peasant whose brains it has eaten, it’s fairly clear that Deitch is making stuff up. The fun of [The Search for Smilin' Ed] is the way it constantly darts back and forth across the line between genuine show-business lore (a favorite Deitch theme) and delirious whole-cloth invention. ... Deitch’s artwork... is... utterly confident, building on the stylistic gestures of both the underground-comics scene that launched his career and the classic animation that inspired his talking-animal characters." – Publishers Weekly
• Review: "Some of the best comics of the last couple of decades are Jim Woodring’s wordless Frank stories. Dreamlike, idyllic and mind bendingly horrific visions are rendered with immaculate penwork and pacing. This tidy, near 200 page collection of black and white stories [The Portable Frank] is sufficient to put a permanent dent in your brain pan." – M. Ace, Irregular Orbit
• Review: "Fantagraphics cycles back to the first three years of Herriman’s Sunday Krazy Kat strips [in Krazy & Ignatz 1916-1918]. I do enjoy these early years of the kat kronikles — a bit more lyrical, a bit more varied, a bit less centered on the kat/mouse/cop routine. Yes, you need it. Of course." – M. Ace, Irregular Orbit
• Interview: In virtue of the Criterion Collection release of Crumb on DVD and Blu-ray, The A.V. Club talks to director Terry Zwigoff: "And I said, 'What did you think of it?' And he said, 'It was mortifying.' I said, 'Is it a bad film?' And he said, 'No, but I’m looking at myself in a mirror, so what am I supposed to say? Is it good? Is it bad? I just don’t want to look at it.' Something like that."
• Panel:The Comics Journal presents video of the "International Comics and Graphic Novels" panel at Comic-Con International last month, with Moto Hagio, Émile Bravo and others — part 1 is embedded above, with 4 additional parts at TCJ.com