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.
• Plug: "Listen, Whitey!is the largest collection of Black Power recordings, and the only book of its kind. Even if you’re not that much into social history or political music, the rock and soul rabble rousing and poetic preachers and extrapolative urban players here are exciting to listen to, and the artwork accompanying it in both the CD booklet and the full book is extraordinary." – The KEXP Blog
• List: YALSA's blog The Hub spotlights their previously-announced Great Graphic Novels for Teens Top Ten 2012: "Shimura Takako’s Wandering Son Volume 1 rounds out the Top Ten list for 2012 with a sensitive look at two fifth grade students struggling with gender identity: Shuichi Natori is a boy who wants to be a girl, and Yoshino Takatsuki is a girl who wants to be a boy. This is a complex and sensitive subject, but Takako handles it very gently, allowing the story to unfold in a way that is not only natural but sympathetic. Takako’s artwork is spare and evocative, supporting the story but never getting in the way of its telling. This one is for teens who like contemporary stories about real world problems."
• List: At LitReactor, Kelly Thompson runs down 10 Graphic Novels for the Literary Minded, with Castle Waiting Vol. 1 by Linda Medley recommended "for fans of fantasy": "Castle Waiting, a brutally funny book with a giant heart, has a new spin on fairy tales with a feminist bent that will draw you in and keep you reading from page one.... Medley’s world is expertly crafted and completely believable, while her black and white artwork is clean and highly detailed with an emphasis on character design and acting."
• Interview: At SF Weekly, J Poet talks to Pat Thomas about Listen, Whitey! The Sights and Sounds of Black Power 1965-1975: "As you can see from the scope of the book, there were hundreds of recordings connected to the Black Power movement. At Fred Hampton's funeral, they blasted The Supremes' 'Someday We'll Be Together' from loudspeakers. Huey Newton loved Bob Dylan's line, 'Something's happening and you don't know what it is, do you Mr. Jones?' The movement was inspired by music and the movement inspired many people, especially jazz musicians, to refocus their sound and energy."
• Review: "Buddy Does Seattle collects the first 15 issues of Hate, in which the protagonist has relocated to the Pacific Northwest and become the consummate slacker.... First published when Seattle was exploding in popularity due to the rise of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and various grunge bands, Hate offered a decidedly un-romanticized take on a particular time and place. ...Bagge's artwork took the public's perception of '90s youth as angry and volatile and pushed it to hysterical levels. Heavily influenced by late-'60s counterculture cartoonists like Crumb, Bagge's drawings are fluid and grimy-looking, with frequent use of exaggerated facial expressions helping to cultivate an atmosphere of chaos. As a work of cultural commentary it's brash and invigorating, and remains so years later." – Phil Guie, Critical Mob
• Interview:Nick Thorburn's tour with his band Islands brings him to Seattle next week and the Seattle Weekly's Dave Lake asks him about his connections to the city: "...I had a comic strip in the last couple issues of Mome, which is a Fantagraphics anthology, which is a Seattle-based comics publisher. I love Fantagraphics. I got a check from them recently for being in those comics and it would have made the 13-year-old me die with joy, seeing a check with my name on it from Fantagraphics. That's beyond my wildest teenage fantasy."
It gives us great pleasure to reveal that Celluloid by Dave McKean and Congress of the Animals by Jim Woodring are two of the five finalists for the 2011 Los Angeles Times Book Prizes in the Graphic Novels category. (It's Jim's second nomination in a row, following last year's for Weathercraft, for those of you keeping score.) Congratulations Dave and Jim! This is a high honor for these two bold, visionary and coincidentally wordless books. See the complete list of finalists here. (Additional congrats to Mome contributor Joseph Lambert for his nomination for his debut collection I Will Bite You!) Winners will be announced on Friday, April 20, 2012.