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.'"
Just dropped off at the office today: our advance copies of A Drunken Dream and Other Stories by Moto Hagio. It's pretty! Designer Adam Grano has outdone himself on this one, and of course the contents are gorgeous too. Pick up your copy at Comic-Con next week and have it signed by Moto Hagio — she'll be there all 4 days! It should be widely available next month.
• Review: "After hearing his name lauded for many years, Werewolves of Montpellier was my first excursion into the world of Jason, the renowned Norwegian-born artist known for mixing whimsical anthropomorphic characters with introspective and often quite heavy storylines. Now I understand what my friends have been raving about for years. Jason’s artwork is sparse and the story is a masterpiece in simplicity. ... At times heartbreakingly sad and laugh-out-loud funny, this story just feels like real life... but with werewolves. ... These characters are hopeless, hilarious, tragic and beautiful – probably a lot like you and your friends." – Chad Derdowski, Mania
• Review: "Norwegian cartoonist Jason's latest work [Werewolves of Montpellier] is an absolute gem, funny, sparse and poignant. A tale of a thief, his complicated love life, urban living and werewolves, this is a unique and entertaining work." – Ian Mayor
• Semi-review: "A bound galley of Moto Hagio's A Drunken Dream and Other Stories arrived in yesterday's mail, and I'm halfway through it already. Hagio's art in some of these stories is absolutely beautiful to look at... I'm sure the finished book will be beautiful and expensive, but I sort of hope some girls find these stories as well, and get the same thrill I did." – Bridgid Alverson, Robot 6
• Review: "Exploration, thankfully, is precisely what Weathercraft is all about. Woodring’s latest graphic novel is a deep exploration of Unifactor, through looking glasses, behind tears in the world’s fabric, under sea and into space, this time all experienced through the beady eyes of Frank’s principle antagonist, Manhog." – Brian Heater, The Daily Cross Hatch
• Interview: At Newsarama, Michael C. Lorah discusses Weathercraft with Jim Woodring: "This is Manhog’s book. He’s a more interesting character than Frank in a lot of ways. He’s deep, whereas Frank is bottomless."
• Review: "Fantagraphics has done the world the great service of reprinting Basil Wolverton's Culture Corner... [T]hese strips will delight any Wolverton fan with their characteristic doggerel, gratuitous violence, and slapstick humor that pokes fun at the American self-improvement genre. ... [T]he Fantagraphics edition is well worth the price: it's a handsomely bound item, augmented with the sketches and a nice essay by Wolverton's son." – Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing
• Review: "Foster’s humorous, quick-moving stories charge relentlessly forward. ... Whether Val is plotting a way to upend a larger force or enjoying good times with old friends, Foster’s twist-laden narrative comes across with a casual warmth, as if telling of merry adventures around a campfire. Similarly, Foster’s detailed renderings enforce the earthy grounding of Prince Valiant and his cohorts. ... The artistry, the witty and creative plot twists, and the evocative and charming characters all make for a truly timeless, and utterly enjoyable adventure comic strip experience. Any reader who appreciates the innocent high adventure of yore needs to get on board with Hal Foster’s Prince Valiant." - Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama
• Interview: Mark L. Miller of Ain't It Cool News discusses Werewolves of Montpellier with Jason: "The opening concept, the guy who dresses up as a werewolf and then is chased by real werewolves, I had in my mind a long time. I thought it was a fun, silly concept. But something was missing. It was only when I got the idea to mix it with an Audrey Hepburn movie that the story really took off."
• Interview in the future:Matt Thorn wants to know what you'd like him to ask Moto Hagio at her spotlight panel at Comic-Con
• Review: "The graphic novel King of the Flies: Hallorave... gives us a glimpse of internal mayhem inside a controlled environment, executed with elegance and a touch of mystery. ... King of the Flies has been compared to the work of Charles Burns for its graceful depiction of adolescent suburban horror. This is a weird tale that’s easy to get drawn into..." – Irina Ivanova, The Indypendent
• Plugs: At Largehearted Boy, Atomic Books owner Benn Ray lists his picks of the week, including Artichoke Tales by Megan Kelso ("Beautiful, expansive, lyrical") and The Book of Mr. Natural by Robert Crumb ("Did reading R. Crumb’s Book of Genesis leave you now craving more? The Book of Mr. Natural is your natural (heh-heh) next step").
• Plugs: Douglas Wolk includes a goodly number of Fantagraphics releases on his Summer Comics Preview list at TIME / Techland.
• Interview: At TCJ.com's Guttergeek, Chris Reilly says "Billy Hazelnuts and the Crazy Bird is a tie for best graphic novel of the year with Jim Woodring’s Weathercraft" and proceeds to talk to Tony Millionaire: "Sometimes the story will present opportunities I hadn’t thought of (the personality of the cat for instance), and I’ll go with it if it feels right. Then I jam it all into an ending and hope it doesn’t all end up in a big pile of shit. I’m often nervous that I’m writing a crappy book. I’ve done it before and you can’t tell till it’s done and it is disappointing. So far I’m very happy with the Billy Hazelnuts books, but I’ll have to give the Crazy Bird one more read before I’m convinced of its greatness."
• Review: "It's a closely observed story — specific in its details but broadly recognizable from the lives of a million young men — in an expressive, inky style... Night Fisher [is] an excellent naturalistic story of these young men in this closely examined place." – Andrew Wheeler, The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
• Panel:Inkstuds host Robin McConnell presents an audio recording of the TCAF spotlight panel with Dash Shaw and Paul Pope which he moderated
• Review: "The... leaps in chronology and POV can be jarring for those not familiar with Hernandez's episodic style..., but [High Soft Lisp's] offbeat humor and manic sexual energy make the adjustment more than worthwhile. Fritz's hypersexuality, bizarre fetishes, rampant vanity, and burgeoning alcoholism provide many of the volume's finest comic moments, but the ample sex on view is rarely sexy. Rather, the characters' libidinous pursuits are tied into an affecting strain of loneliness and regret that pervades even the most outlandish panels. Add to that Hernandez's characteristically thick, expressive line and character design that owes an acknowledged debt to Archie comics, and the result is a charmingly incongruous, occasionally titillating collision of poignancy and pulp." – Publishers Weekly
• Interview:Publishers Weekly manga editor Kai Ming Cha talks to our new manga editor, Matt Thorn, about our new manga line and manga publishing in general: "I love manga, but I know the sales in the first years of the century were fueled to a large extent by fad and the whole 'Cool Japan' thing. Fads are nothing to build a real industry on. Just look at the comics bubble of the late eighties and early nineties. People have told me I'm jumping on the bandwagon too late. On the contrary, I think the time is ripe to build a new, reliable market that doesn't depend on trends."
• Interview: At The Daily Cross Hatch, the second half of Brian Heater's conversation with Newave! editor Michael Dowers touches on webcomics, Factsheet Five, the Seattle Star, and the joy of getting envelopes with $150 cash in the mail
• List:Booklist's Ray Olson names the Top 10 Graphic Novels of the past 12 months, including You'll Never Know, Book 1: A Good and Decent Man by C. Tyler ("Alt-comics veteran Tyler fully demonstrates her artistry in a book about her father’s WWII experiences, her childhood and present struggles raising her daughter, and her growing realization of war’s long-term effects on soldiers and their families.") and A Mess of Everything by Miss Lasko-Gross ("With washed and faded and wildly varied artwork and writing that sounds utterly like a teen’s voice, Lasko-Gross makes high-schooler Melissa’s late-teen experience real enough to nip incipient nostalgia in the bud.")
• Review: "This charming collection of stories from the long-running and much acclaimed Love and Rockets explores friendship and romance through the interconnected experiences of several characters over many years. ... What's impressive about Hernandez's work isn't so much each story on its own as it is how all the pieces fit together into a whole world that's almost but not quite like our own. ... Hernandez's gorgeous art is both expressive and simple... It all comes together to construct a world and people easy to relate to." – Publishers Weekly
• Review: "Tardi's work which is distinguished by an unstinting attention to locale and detail, captures the true horror of war in a way that no other artist has been quite able to achieve. ... [It Was the War of the Trenches] is the story of man against the system, with the system as the ultimate winner. This is a story for our times." – Peter Richardson (via ¡Journalista!)
• Profile: Benjamin Ivry of Forward looks at the career of Jules Feiffer, who says "From my earliest cartoons, I’ve tried to work in front of audiences who may not be happy with what I’m saying. In the then left-wing Village Voice, I criticized the student left and they weren’t happy. I don’t find it fun to work before audiences who would agree with me; I prefer to challenge their preconceptions. My role is to push and prod and challenge, and I try to do it pleasantly rather than otherwise."
• Interview:Robot 6's Chris Mautner talks to Matt Thorn about editing our upcoming manga line: "My goal is to make a line that will appeal to the twenty-something Sailor Moon/Pokémon generation that feel they've outgrown the bulk of what is currently available, and that will also appeal to intelligent grown-ups who just enjoy a good read, but have never seen themselves as readers of manga, or even comics. I'd like to provide these people with smart, high-quality, accessible manga."
"That doesn’t mean you should ignore the intermittently excellent Mome Vol. 17. [Paul] Hornschmeier’s understated character piece resembles a less deadpan Dan Clowes. It might confuse first-timers, but it’ll also probably make them want to pick up the previous installments. The beautiful 'Congo Chromo,' Olivier Schrauwen’s surreal goof on European colonialism, is like a Thomas Nast cartoon remade by Andre Breton."
"Hotwire is an anarchic blitz of inspired absurdity that somehow avoids collapsing into nonsense. It preserves the spirit of such earlier underground comic anthologies as Zap and Raw... Hotwire can be crude, even offensive, but it’s almost always fun. It also features some amazing artwork blown up to an impressive 12 by 9 inches. ...Hotwire Comics Vol. 3 is about as entertaining as comics get. It also might provoke a thought or three."
"Newave! The Underground Mini Comix of the 1980s... celebrates the entrepreneurial spirit and youthful energy of the early days of self-publishing. These obscure creators mostly eschew a linear narrative in favor of artistic exploration and freeform expression. ... Newave is a valuable overview of an overlooked era."
• Feature:Publishers Weekly manga editor Kai Ming Cha covers our recent manga publishing news and talks to editor/translator Matt Thorn about the line: "'My approach is to publish smart, artistic, but accessible work that is well translated and has high production values,' Thorn said. Thorn said he has grown weary of manga's current place in the U.S. market as disposable entertainment. The manga line will follow in Fantagraphics's tradition of publishing comics with literary merit."