• Awards: Congratulations to the great Joost Swarte, awarded the 2012 Marten Toonder Prize and its concomitant fat cash prize by the Netherlands Foundation for Visual Arts, Design and Architecture, as reported by Tom Spurgeon at The Comics Reporter
• Review (Audio):Inkstuds host Robin McConnell is joined by Paul Gravett, Joe McCulloch and Tom Spurgeon for a roundtable discussion of Cruisin' with the Hound by Spain Rodriguez and other books
• Review: "Here are the early ejaculations from the primordial form of what was to become one of the great American writers. Here is Flannery O'Connor as she is formulating her unique vision of America and all that it entails.... What value does Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons have inherently? I think the answer to that question is entirely subjective. ...I personally wish to thank Fantagraphics for going out on a limb and publishing this book, if for no other reason than to put Flannery O'Connor back into the pop culture discussion for however briefly it may be." – Daniel Elkin, Comics Bulletin
• Review: "Anyone can be grotesque and horrifying. To truly get under the skin of the audience is an ability not many have. Someone who does is Thomas Ott, and he uses his ability to the highest effect in Cinema Panopticum. ...[I]f you are looking for an unsettling horror story rendered beautifully by an expert craftsman there is no doubt this should be in your collection." – Taylor Pithers, The Weekly Crisis
• Interview (Audio): Spend 3 minutes with Michael Kupperman as Tom Gambino of Pronto Comics talks to Michael from the floor of last April's MoCCA Fest on the ProntoCast podcast
• Film Studies: At Boing Boing, Jim Woodring writes about the 1931 Fleischer Bros. short that expanded his young mind: "I might have come to grips with the overwhelming mystery of life in a rational, organic manner if it weren't for a cartoon I saw on my family's old black and white TV in the mid '50s when I was three or four years old. This cartoon rang a bell so loud that I can still feel its reverberations.... Whatever [the creators'] motivation and intent, 'Bimbo's Initiation' became my prime symbolic interpreter, the foundation of my life's path and endlessly exploding bomb at the core of my creative output."
Congrats to Ellen Forney, shortlisted for The 2012 Stranger Genius Award for Literature! Ellen's worked with us (and The Stranger) for years and even though we're not putting out her next book, the graphic memoir Marbles, we're all looking forward to it eagerly! You may recall Jim Woodring won this prize a couple of years ago — kudos to The Stranger's critics for continuing to recognize comics with their Literature award. (Photo for The Stranger by Kelly O.)
We had a swell time at the Stumptown Comics Fest in Portland this past weekend and the big news for us there was that Jaime Hernandez received the Stumptown Comic Arts Award for Best Cartoonist! Festival special guest and our longtime pal Stan Sakai picked up the award for Best Letterer, and our newest hire, Jen Vaughn, shares the award for Best Anthology as co-editor of Lies Grown-ups Told Me. Congrats to all!
We were extremely pleased to learn over the weekend that Moto Hagio (creator of A Drunken Dream and Other Stories and the forthcoming The Heart of Thomas, among many other works) has been awarded the Purple Ribbon Medal of Honor by the government of Japan for her contributions to the arts. "Hagio is the 14th manga creator and the first female manga-ka to receive this award," reports Deb Aoki at About.com Manga, who has the complete story and background courtesy our own manga editor/translator, Matt Thorn (pictured below with Hagio-sensei at the Japan Cartoonist Association award ceremony last June).
Hot on the heels of its Eisner Award nomination for "Best Graphic Album – New," Mark Kalesniko's beautiful, ambitious and complex book Freeway has been named an honor book (i.e. runner-up) for the Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize by a jury representing the Pennsylvania Center for the Book at Penn State University.
From the judges' comments:
"Kalesniko's vivid existentialist drama of the dog and his artistic dream reassuringly demonstrates that in comics, at least, creativity and originality continue to flourish and (with this honor award) receive their rightful recognition." – Susan Squier
"With allusions to the history of the classic studio animation, the use of anthropomorphism and a great relationship story, Freeway is a fantastic graphic novel." – John Secreto
"How do we get to where we want to be — in the workplace, in love, in life, on LA's tangle of freeways? Kalesniko's dog-faced protagonist lives and imagines dozens of possibilities for us in this melange, which offers both a staccato pace and a gentle lyricism. How ironic that the pursuit of happiness turns out to be something of a demolition derby." – Henry Pisciotta
"Every nomination list needs one book that pays homage to the 1960s Existentialist movement.... The art work is perfect for this tale of hopeless desperation and despair. It's great to see this theme again." – Glenn Masuchika
Congratulations Mark! We're also pleased that Paul Hornschemeier's Life with Mr. Dangerous, originally serialized in Mome, has received the same honor this year, which last year was bestowed upon Drew Weing's Set to Sea.
Jaime Hernandez is nominated for Best Cartoonist in the 2012 Stumptown Comic Art Awards for his work in last year's issue of Love and Rockets — go, vote in all categories here! How you gonna beat "The Love Bunglers" and "Return for Me," huh? His competition in the category includes our good pal Stan Sakai, who is also deserving of every award he gets (including Best Letterer, which he's also nominated for). You just can't praise those guys enough. Award winners will be announced at the Stumptown Comics Fest in Portland, OR on April 28.
We also direct your attention to the "Reader's Choice" category where you can write in your favorite comics that might not otherwise be nominated and remind you that we have loads of eligible candidates for that as well.
Just beginning to catch up on Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Profile: With his big new art book out and his museum retrospective on the way, Daniel Clowes gets the New York Times profile treatment from Carol Kino: "Mr. Clowes can create a striking face with a few deftly placed lines or brush strokes, often seizing on some specific characteristic that summons up an indelible personality. Think of Enid Coleslaw, the snarky teenage anti-heroine of Ghost World, and her big, black nerdy-hip glasses; they cover most of her face, but they can’t conceal the tiny shifts in expression that loudly telegraph her mood."
• List:Daniel Clowes may be headed for a museum retrospective, but he is neither dead nor retired — but that doesn't stop Flavorwire's Elona Jones from naming 10 candidates to carry the torch of "his storytelling skills, interest in surrealism, and eye for biting observations," including Jason, who "receives international acclaim for his brilliant storytelling."
• Review: "The John Benson-edited anthology The Sincerest Form of Parody: The Best 1950s MAD-Inspired Satirical Comics assembles largely forgotten work by the likes of Jack Davis, Will Elder, Ross Andru, and Jack Kirby, parodying everything from Mickey Spillane novels to Rex Morgan, M.D. Some of these pieces can stand up to the best of Mad (or at least match the magazine’s average), but even the stories that are clunky and unfunny are fascinating for the way they rip off Mad shamelessly, including all the asides and mini-gags that Will Elder once labeled Mad’s 'chicken fat.' It’s a testament to how quickly the innovative and subversive can become mainstream." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "Next to Pogo, the newspaper comics collection that fans have been most anticipating would be Ernie Bushmiller’s Nancy, which over the past few decades has garnered a reputation as the purest distillation of the gag cartoon, a triumph of minimalism... Nancy Is Happy: Dailies 1943-1945 joins Bushmiller’s magnum opus in full swing ... Bushmiller’s genius [was] to make everything in his strip so basic that anyone, anywhere, at any time, could get the joke." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review (Video): Video blogger Robert Crayola looks at Nancy Is Happy: "If you like comics or comic strips especially and you haven't read Nancy or if you have and you just want more, I think you'll enjoy this.... Hopefully we can get many more volumes of this. I hope you support it. It's a great book."
• Review: "One of the signature achievements of ’80s alt-comics, Drew and Josh Alan Freidman’s Any Similarity to Persons Living or Dead Is Purely Coincidental: An Anthology of Comic Art, 1979-1985 is now back in print in a spiffy new edition that doesn’t really add anything to the original, but is still a necessary addition to any library that doesn’t already have a copy.... Drew Friedman’s stipple-heavy photo-realism and his brother Josh’s gleefully cruel humor combine to craft an alternate history of American entertainment that’s preposterous and yet feels true. Even now, decades after other cartoonists and comedians have tapped this well, the Friedmans’ pioneering work in the field of 'brattily dicking around with icons' remains unparalleled." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "Folly... serve[s] as a good introduction to Rickheit’s beautifully ugly visions, of a world where cute girls and humanoid stuffed animals commit atrocities against oozing flesh. With a drawing style that resembles Jason Lutes and Charles Burns, and a storytelling style similar to Jim Woodring and Al Columbia, Rickheit excels in making nightmares lucid. Some characters recur from story to story in Folly, but really this book is just page after page of beautiful images juxtaposed with wounds and excreta. The single-mindedness of Rickheit’s approach — and the level of detail he applies to it — is impressively horrifying." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
No, not that kind of doctor! Wonderful news via Gahan Wilson's official Facebook page: "Gahan Wilson is to receive an honorary PhD from his Alma Mater, The Chicago Art Institute, in May of 2012!" Congratulations Gahan! I can't think of a more well-deserved honor.