• Review: "What to say about Catalog 439? It's a crazy-arse thing, full of richly illustrated intricate drawings of smartly dressed men torturing each other with ridiculous devices. [...] What you get with this book then is not just a fascinating glimpse into a little known corner of American social history, but the template for many of the ad pages from the silver and bronze age comics that so many of us comic collectors love. I really enjoyed it and, although it isn't about comics, I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in the history of comic book advertising." – Dom Sutton, London Loves Comics
• Review: "At this point, I don’t know what else there is to say about Jamie Hernandez or Love and Rockets. I suspect that one day he’s going to make a truly terrible comic, if only because he must feel at least a little bit bad about showing nearly every other creator up so often. ...Penny Century is yet another masterpiece from a guy who turns them out seemingly like clockwork. If you haven’t read it, you need to. ...Jamie Hernandez’s exploration of life continues as an unimpeachable standard for comic book mastery." – Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama
• Review: "[Artichoke Tales] is far and away the best comic I've ever read from Megan Kelso, succeeding on almost every level. Her clear-line style gives an airy ease to her often detail-heavy drawings of nature and the people who inhabit it; similarly, her complex exercise in fantasy worldbuilding — and I don't mean detailed maps with funny names, I mean real worldbuilding, constructing cultural and religious and economic structures rooted in environment and history and exerting macro and micro influence across the lives of all the characters involved — is subsumed into an absorbing, briskly moving house-divided family soap opera. [...] I dug this book to a degree that surprised me and look forward to returning to it. It's a rich vein of alt-fantasy being tapped here." – Sean T. Collins, Attentiondeficitdisorderly
• Review: "Kelso's simple line and rounded forms belie the seriousness of the story. [...] Ultimately, Artichoke Tales is not so much a story about conflict as a story about the people reacting to the conflict, doing their best to live lives of integrity in a land of constant unrest. Although good intentions are often thwarted, it ends on a note of hope." – Brigid Alverson, Graphic Novel Reporter
• Plug: "I picked [A Drunken Dream and Other Stories] up at San Diego and it's one of those 'seminal' manga works that actually lives up to its hype. If you like Tatsumi, this is a good bet." Lydia Park, Ask Yavin IV (Funny, we don't remember seeing her at San Diego... That's a joke because she's a cartoon character.)
• Plug: "This is amazing news — one of my favourite cartoonists finally receives his due. I was starting to think that he had slipped through the cracks of cartoon history. ...[Rand Holmes] was a fantastic draftsman, surprisingly old-school, and his meticulous inking something that I could only ever hope to dream to aspire to." – Rod Filbrandt
• Plug: "...[T]he second volume of [Johnny Ryan's] battle epic Prison Pit... is amazing, nasty, and Lovecraftian." – Ryan Sands, Same Hat!
• Interview: "Newsarama: Billy Hazlenuts is like a children’s fable gone wrong, reminiscent in way of the old, dark Grimm Brothers tales with a modern, high-octane approach. Is that what you’re going for? Tony Millionaire: Take a closer look at those Grimm's Fairy tales, or even better, Hans Christian Anderson, and you'll tell me my stories are chocolate milk sopped on toast compared to that stuff."
At Comics Alliance, David Brothers presents a sampling of 6 pages from A Drunken Dream and Other Stories, saying "Moto Hagio is one of the greatest Japanese manga creators you've never heard of. ...Hagio helped take the genre to new heights, incorporating science-fiction, boys' love, and mature themes of sexuality and gender. She not only blazed trails as one of the earliest female manga creators, but also proved to be particularly successful and critically-acclaimed over the course of her career in Japan. [...] Fantagraphics' release of A Drunken Dream is only the first step of educating American manga fans and neophytes alike about this influential pioneer."
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Forty years ago, the legendary manga artist Moto Hagio reinvented the shōjo (girls' comics) genre with an ongoing series of whip-smart, psychologically complex, and tenderly poetic stories. Here, now, in English for the very first time, as the debut release in Fantagraphics Books' ambitious manga line of graphic novels, are ten of the very best of these tales.
The work in A Drunken Dream and Other Stories spans Hagio's entire career, from 1970's "Bianca" to 2007's "The Willow Tree," and includes the mind-bending, full-color title story; the famously heartbreaking "Iguana Girl"; and the haunting "The Child Who Comes Home" — as well as "Autumn Journey," "Girl on Porch With Puppy," the eerie conjoined-twins shocker "Hanshin: Half-God," "Angel Mimic," and one of the saddest of all romance stories, "Marié, Ten Years Later."
A Drunken Dream and Other Stories is supplemented with a feature-length interview with Hagio, where she discusses her art, her career, and her life with the same combination of wit, candor and warmth that radiates from every panel of her comics.
• Review: "...[Rand Holmes] could tell a story, and he hit his stride with lengthy action-comedy epics like 'Wings Over Tijuana' and 'Hitler’s Cocaine,' which explored the shadier sides of drug culture in a style that veered from the shockingly real to the morbidly slapstick. Imagine a Jack Davis MAD magazine piece with heavier overtones; that was Holmes at his best, and that best is well-represented in The Artist Himself. [Grade] B+" – The A.V. Club
• Review: "Drew Weing’s breezy, lyrical graphic novel Set to Sea... tells a simple story about art and experience, delivered in one-step-follows-another fashion. Weing’s cartoony figures and detailed backgrounds — rendered with precise cross-hatching — suit his one-picture-per-page format well, making Set to Sea look like an animated film slowed down to a slideshow. ...Weing’s beautiful art and masterful pacing are so pleasurable that Set to Sea stands up to multiple reads. It’s a catchy little tune that sounds better with each spin. [Grade] A-" – The A.V. Club
• Review: "Fantagraphics has taken care to showcase Hagio’s work in as beautiful a package as possible. ... For the right reader, adult or teen, man or woman, these stories [in A Drunken Dream and Other Stories] can be windows into a world where finally they can see themselves, both their strengths and their flaws. That’s a powerful thing for a book to be able to do and it takes a masterful craftsman like Hagio to be able to do it." – Snow Wildsmith, Graphic Novel Reporter
• Review: "Temperance is a story of awakening and transformation — physical, emotional, and spiritual. A profoundly empathetic reflection upon the systemic societal problems of culturally ingrained violence and brainwashing, Temperance is profound, meaningful, and deserves to be read and reread at length." – Midwest Book Review/ComicList
• Plug: "The excellent graphic novel Special Exits is soon coming out from Fantagraphics. It is a labor of love of more than 10 years by the American comic artist extraordinaire Joyce Farmer. ... Of course another reason I am excited about the publication of Special Exits is because I’ve seen it grow and take shape throughout those years as Joyce Farmer has honored me with her friendship. Some of my students at the Ornerakis Cartoon School would also remember her as she was gracious enough to present her work to them. I am really looking forward to have the book in my hand and re-read it again and again as I think it is one of the best graphic novels ever created!" – Elias Tabakeas, Kailoipalogion
• 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
• Review: "Of the artists that meant the world to me when I was young enough that lots of artists meant the world to me, Jaime Hernandez is the only one I know of that can still kill me dead with his newest and latest. Your mileage may vary, but Jaime's three-part story in the latest Love and Rockets brought to mind the same sweep of romance and regret and pursuit of all that's sweet in life as much as battered and broken insides allow that I remember all too well from the summer between my junior and senior years in college, when I would have put everything about my wonderful life on hold to climb into a black and white comic book for a little while. There are three or four panels in this newest effort worth some cartoonists' entire careers." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
• Review: "Set to Sea is [an] auspicious debut... Weing's nameless, landlubbing protagonist aches to rhapsodize about the sea but discovers that something's missing. After dozing drunkenly on a dock, he awakes to discover he's been shanghaied. His adventures provide ample material for a volume of poetry in this hilariously violent picaresque tale." – Richard Pachter, The Miami Herald
• Review: "A book like The Best American Comics Criticism invites argument. If you put 'best' in your title, argument will follow. I’ve got arguments, but I wanted to start by praising both the editor, Ben Schwartz, and the publisher, Fantagraphics, for making the effort." - Derik Badman
• Review: "...[T]his story is one where Deitch tries to tie the various unruly strands of his many stories together. In a way, I almost prefer that these overlapping, nesting, and sometimes contradictory stories never really congeal, but The Search for Smilin' Ed is, like all of Deitch's work, a compelling and highly personal piece of work." – Robert Boyd, The Great God Pan Is Dead
• Review: "Although the images are very haunting, they are extremely beautiful. Pim & Francie is a pretty unique book. ... This book as a whole is actually quite creepy, haunting, scary, beautiful, and intoxicating. I seem to enjoy it more every time I look/read through it. With images on almost every single page, this book is worth a lot more than its cover price." – Steven Thomas
• Review: "Wally Gropius ...[is] John Stanley for the 21st century. Not that Stanley doesn’t work just fine in 2010, but Hensley is worthy of that sort of praise. I wish this guy was writing Archie." – Chris Reilly, Guttergeek
• Review: "I loved this book and am glad I... could read something this wonderfully twisted... I really wish I could tell you what genre this is, but The Squirrel Machine defies that sort of commercial branding." – Chris Reilly, Guttergeek
• Review: "Man, Joe Daly is awesome. ...[H]e is back with thunder in his pen and ants in his pants. [Dungeon Quest] is as good as Scrublands on page one and it just gets better and funnier, more bizarre and familiar (if you have ever met or hung out with Larpers) with each page turn. Welcome back, Joe Daly. You rule." – Chris Reilly, Guttergeek
• Review: "The Troublemakers... is Gilbert [Hernandez] doing a Quentin Tarantino, in that he dips into a sleazy old unpleasant genre of crime exploitation films of the 60s and 70s and cherry-picks a bunch of the good bits and smashes them together and cooks them into a really sweet pie." – Chris Reilly, Guttergeek
• Review: "The Culture Corner... is the biggest score for fans of Wolverton since the publication of the Wolverton Bible. I guess you could also say that this is the first reprint collection of Wolverton material since the Wolverton Bible if you wanted to nit-pick. Great stuff." – Chris Reilly, Guttergeek
• Interview: At WFMU's Beware of the Blog, Kliph Nesteroff talks to Drew Friedman: "When I was talking to Albert [Brooks] at this party he said, 'Drew, did you know that Harpo's ex-wife married Frank Sinatra?' I said, 'No, it was Zeppo's ex-wife.' He said, 'No, no, it was Harpo's ex-wife.' I said, 'No, it was Zeppo's ex-wife. Look, we have Andy Marx, Groucho's grandson standing right here. Let's ask him.' I said, 'Andy, which one of your uncles married Frank Sinatra's wife?' He said, 'Well, that was Zeppo's wife.' That's why I love L.A. It's handy to have Groucho's grandson [around] when you need him." (Note: audio of this conversation will be available from the Inkstuds podcast soon; we'll keep you updated)
• Profile:Seattle Times book editor Mary Ann Gwinn reports on the partnership between Rick Marschall's Rosebud Archives and Fantagraphics Books: "Now Marschall's company, Rosebud Archives, and Fantagraphics have formed a joint publishing enterprise that will draw from Marschall's immense collection, reclaiming the work of the great 20th-century magazine and newspaper artists for the 21st-century public."
• Commentary: At The Hooded Utilitarian, Shaenon Garrity kicks off a critical roundtable on Popeye with a 7-part appreciation: "Popeye hangs on, indestructible..., the last of a tougher, smellier, funnier breed."
• Reviewer: At Comics Comics, our own Jason T. Miles looks at something I'm also fond of: Andy Helfer & Kyle Baker's late-1980s run on The Shadow
• Review: "Unlike current shojo manga, Hagio's sentiment is more restrained, recounting a calmer account of destructive sibling rivalry, a quieter portrayal of a romance destined for failure, a subtle unraveling of a young woman in mourning. Her craftsmanship reflects wisdom and exercises the creative strength necessary to unravel and tie together the range of narrative threads that make up the tragedies and slow recoveries of life. ... A Drunken Dream collects stories by Hagio from her beginning, middle, and current career. The consistency of her work is evidence of why she's finally being translated into English and why that was long overdue." – Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
• Review: "Threeyears after her award-winning debut graphic novel, Percy Gloom, Cathy Malkasian delivers her stunning followup, Temperance. This solidly grounded parable — rich with contemporary resonance for Fortress America — artfully and modestly flaunts all the same whimsicality, brutality, quiet heroics, worldbuilding, melancholy, weirdness and surrealism of its earlier cousin, but with ratios altered. ... If this book does not show up on all the comics awards ballots in 2011, the injustices perpetrated by [the book's character] Pa will pale by comparison." – Paul Di Filippo, The Barnes & Noble Review
• Review: "Huizenga’s command over his tools as an artist, the integration of his love of depicting wide-open spaces, and his general restraint in delivering prescriptive messages is what sets him apart as an artist. He’s not afraid to go into exacting detail on some technical point regarding time or consciousness, but it’s always done in the voice of an affable, self-effacing and highly unreliable guide who’s really trying to figure it all out himself. His work feels highly autobiographical in the sense that the artist has always been a thinker, and Ganges reveals the depths of his inquiries, while still remaining playful on the page and appealing to the eye. When the series is eventually collected, it may well be Huizenga’s masterwork to date." – Rob Clough, The Comics Journal
• Review: "Sometimes a comic book comes along and kicks your dick in. This is that comic. Writer/artist Johnny Ryan is my kind of freak. The raunchy and over the top violen-terrific action and splatter-tastic gore that take place in Prison Pit must be seen to be believed. ... Fans of MTV’s old Liquid Television series and Adult Swim’s Super Jail should definitely put Prison Pit on their must have list." – Mark L. Miller, Ain't It Cool News
• Review: "Fantagraphics’ volume of 11 of Basil Wolverton’s Powerhouse Pepper stories (along with 4 starring other characters) works as a great companion to their new Culture Corner volume, despite having come out in 1994. Where Culture Corner showed Wolverton’s skill at doing brief half-page joke strips, Powerhouse Pepper shows how his style worked with longer, 10-page stories — and oddly enough, the difference isn’t as great as you might expect." – Kittysneezes
I thought I could keep up with Online Commentary & Diversions while at Comic-Con. Ha ha ha ha ha.
• Coming Attractions: At Robot 6, Chris Mautner takes a look through the 46 (!!!) upcoming books listed in our Fall/Winter catalog (note: listed release dates may no longer be accurate and are all subject to change)
• History/Profile/Review: "What A Drunken Dream reveals is an author whose childhood passion for Frances Hodgson Burnett, L.M. Montgomery, and Isaac Asimov profoundly influenced the kind of stories she chose to tell as an adult. ... For those new to Hagio’s work, Fantagraphics has prefaced A Drunken Dream with two indispensable articles by noted manga scholar Matt Thorn. ... Taken together with the stories in A Drunken Dream, these essays make an excellent introduction to one of the most literary and original voices working in comics today. Highly recommended." – Katherine Dacey, The Manga Critic
• Review: "Anyone interested in the historical development of manga and the women who’ve contributed to the art form should read this book. I hope A Drunken Dream sells well enough for Fantagraphics or other publishers to consider putting out some of Hagio’s longer works. Her short stories are great, but I’d love to see what she does with a longer storyline." – Anna Neatrour, TangognaT
• Plug: "What Osamu Tezuka is to shonen and seinen manga, Moto Hagio is to shojo manga -- a true innovator who challenged and stretched the conventions of the medium by created touching, memorable and truly artistic comics stories. ... Fantagraphics had copies of the absolutely gorgeous hardcover edition of A Drunken Dream available for sale at their [Comic-Con] booth..." – Deb Aoki, About.com: Manga
• Interview:The Comics Journal's Shaenon Garrity sat down with Moto Hagio & translator Matt Thorn for a conversation at Comic-Con International: "I find it very embarrassing to read my very early work, but when you see the stories arranged chronologically it gives a good overall impression of my career. In Japanese, too, it’s common to present an author’s works in a sample spanning his or her whole career, so it’s turned out very much like that."
• Review: "Deadpan dialogue, drawings that move from panel to panel with the strange and deliberate force of kung fu performance art, and a subtle interweaving of humor and angst come together to make [Werewolves of Montpellier] a brief knockout of a book." – Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
• Review: "...[T]his 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. There are stories within stories, unreliable explainers, secret passageways that lead from one part of the tale to another." – Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
• Review: "Wally Gropius is a book that’s constantly lying to the reader, with a terrifying chaos roiling just immediately below its surface. The book is a flood of visual and textual information, but the information itself is near constantly false. ... For me, it’s a book that lies constantly, that lies at its very core, but that nevertheless ends up getting at a greater truth of things. And so, yeah: I thought that was pretty neat." – Abhay Kholsa, The Savage Critics
• Review: "There’s more derring-do [in Prince Valiant Vol. 2: 1939-1940] than you can shake a sword at! Foster’s stories are filled with vivid, colorful characters, none more engaging than the aptly named Valiant and his never-ending quest for adventure. The artwork is breathtaking. Foster’s figures are handsome and graceful whether eating a sumptuous feast or fighting on a crowded battlefield. ... Even if the age of chivalry is not your flask of ale, Foster’s art and storytelling will win you over." — Rich Clabaugh, The Christian Science Monitor
• Review: "This book is why Fantagraphics is one of the best and most important comic publishers in the business today. [Blazing Combat] is a series that could have easily been forgotten to the ages but Fantagraphics always is at the forefront of making sure important works of sequential art are remembered. ... This is a brilliant collection of stories that should be required reading. Intelligent, gripping stories and fantastic art! Grade A +" – Tim Janson, Mania and Newsarama
• Review: "Formally inventive and emotionally acute, Bottomless Belly Button indeed proves to be all those things: as fascinating and affecting a depiction of family ties as Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections or Wes Anderson's The Royal Tenenbaums." – Ed Park, Los Angeles Times
• Plugs: Alex Carr of Amazon's Omnivoracious blog has Weathercraft by Jim Woodring ("I am woefully ignorant when it comes to Woodring’s Frank comics, and this looks like the weirdest place to start") and Dungeon Quest Book 1 ("After The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book, I will read anything Joe Daly produces") on his summer vacation reading list
• History: For the Los Angeles Times, Ben Schwartz compiles an oral history of the 1980s heyday of L.A. alternative comics with Matt Groening, Gilbert & Jaime Hernandez, David Lynch (!), and Gary Panter
• Review: "A book that sticks with you like a virus, Woodring's newest collection of tales of vague morality and definite oddity [Weathercraft] keeps intact his status as one of comics most eccentric auteurs. ... Woodring's wordless story is a looping and circumstantial affair, concerned more with fantastically rendered backgrounds — his starkly layered landscapes play like minimalist woodcuts of the deepest unconscious — than matters of plot and story. There is a creeping message of sorts, about the wages of greed and what happens to curious cats, but it's mired in a universe of deeply strange beauty and not always easy to divine." – Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
• Review: "...[A] gorgeously-produced best-of collection from shojo manga creator Moto Hagio, A Drunken Dream and Other Stories... The material showcased here has been assembled from across thirty years of Moto’s career, and shows her switching nimbly between storytelling modes. On the face of the evidence there was very little she could not do, some things she did well, and a few things she did magnificently. ... This book’s further evidence that 'shojo' need not be thought of as closed-ended and insular a category as “science fiction” once was." – Serdar Yegulalp, Genji Press
• Review: "Where most American gag strips were about the silly things that happen every day, Peanuts was about how to keep on living when you don't get what you want. It was still vital and true at this point [1973-1974], even if more and more of the stories focused on Snoopy quaffing root beers with Bill Mauldin, or writing bad novels, or playing tennis." – Andrew Wheeler, The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
• Review: "Medley has a real talent for character, and she does a wonderful job of exploring and expanding upon standard fairy tale tropes. With her signature creation, Castle Waiting, she takes the bare bones of several well-known stories and redrafts them to account for the human element. ... The first volume of Castle Waiting... is available in a gorgeous hardcover edition from Fantagraphics Books... and the finished product is stunning..." – Stella Matutina
• Plug: "Megan Kelso's Artichoke Tales... is earning comparisons with epics like Cold Mountain and The Thorn Birds, and Kelso's nimble, cartoonish two-color art will remind readers of Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis. – Michael Bagnulo, Shelf Awareness
• Interview:Stephen DeStefano talks shop in a "Cartoonist Survey" Q&A with David Paccia of David-Wasting-Paper: "I recall when I first got to DC Comics as a teenager, Joe Kubert lectured me on starting my reference file. This way, no matter what I wanted to draw, I always had a photo to reference. In this age of Google Image Search, the idea of a reference folder seems positively quaint!"
• Interview: At HiLobrow, Joshua Glenn presents a previously unseen 2002 Q&A (missing the Qs) with Kim Deitch: "Yeah, Waldo represents individualization. His edges can’t be smoothed off — even by me. That’s why I try not to over-use Waldo. If I haven’t got a good idea with him, I’ll let him sit on the shelf for years." (Via ¡Journalista!)
• Profile: The Cincinnati Enquirer's Lauren Bishop spotlights the Comic-Con-bound Carol Tyler: "It's sure to be quite a different experience from the last time Tyler attended Comic-Con, in 1988, when she received the inaugural Dori Seda Memorial Award for Best New Female Cartoonist. 'When I went, it was pretty small,' she says. 'I slept on somebody's floor.'"
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