• List: At MTV Geek, Brigid Alverson names Wandering Son by Shimura Takako one of The Best Manga Series of 2011: "Wandering Son is a delightful, quiet manga about a girly boy and a boyish girl.... This is not your typical gender-bender manga playing a gender switch for laughs (and fanservice); it's a quiet, subtle story of a boy coming to terms with himself."
• Review: "Believe it or not, music criticism was responsible for some of 2011's finest books, with Kevin Avery's impeccably researched Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson leading the pack.... Avery has done an outstanding job assembling a collection of the writer's work, fully illustrating why he was such an influential presence in his time. But, sadly, especially in our time, it also reads as something of a cautionary tale — ...you might wonder why on earth anyone would ever choose rock criticism as a career in the first place." – Bill Holdship, Detroit Metro Times
• Review: "I have no idea if it was part of cartoonist Johnny Ryan's overall plan for Prison Pit, but this latest book in the growing-to-classic-status series strikes me as a 'step-back' installment. This is where a series that was once less certain in the market place eschews some of the instant gratification of its first couple of books for the sake of layering in additional plot elements that look like they'll pay off further down the line. It's the kind of work that makes you think that its creator is thinking of the long-term as opposed to focusing solely on the short. Prison Pit had some of that particular swagger from the very beginning; this book seems even more settled and confident.... As was the case with the first two books, Johnny Ryan makes his case for mastery at a second, very specific genre, connected to the first through the extremes of expression involved." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
• Interview: At Memory Is Fiction, Craig Staufenberg talks with Wilfred Santiago: "Any subject or theme can work in comics, the narrative has unique, endless breakdowns. It’s a unique prism, anything that’s seen through it is distorted in a comic book way. The author, the cartoonist, just brings to light a particular side of that prism. I try to quit comics but it keeps pulling me back."
• Interview:Network Awesome Magazine has a fun Q&A with Richard Sala about the Invisible Hands animated shorts: "They used stop-motion. The staff would blow up my drawings onto colored paper and then cut out all the figures and movable parts. The pieces were then positioned on three layers of glass – to give depth – with the camera looking down. Next, the director, Denis Morella, carefully moved the pieces around – including the mouths, to match the dialogue – for each click of the camera. I grew up loving stop-motion – everything from Ray Harryhausen to Gumby – so, I thought doing the animation that way was pretty cool."
• Feature: At New Orleans-based website Gambit, Alex Woodward looks at Oil and Water — "As the book gets deeper south and deeper into the complexities and relationships of oil to the Gulf and its people, the stories get murky and collide, mimicking an ebb-and-flow that at first is much like oil and water, then gradually homogenizes. The Portlanders come to grips with their own misconceptions, and the characters that were once miles away from their lives become embedded into their own." — and talks to the book's creators (writer Steve Duin, artist Shannon Wheeler and editor Mike Rosen)
• Review: "...Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910-2010... is mainly an excuse to insert Twain, Zelig-like, into every decade between 1910 and today. Of course he made a lot of money in the 1920s and lost it all in the 1930s. Of course he and Albert Einstein were repeatedly struck in the head by a hammer-wielding monkey. And of course he sleeps with Mamie Eisenhower ('this lady was one hot dish.') It's all told in Kupperman's Marx Brothers-style absurdist deadpan voice, and if you like Tales Designed to Thrizzle, then you'll love this book. It's packed with laugh-out-loud moments..." – Paul Constant, The Stranger
• Review: "Gahan Wilson's Nuts features kids talking the way adults really talk... The kids in Nuts are vain, covetous, not so very bright, and they stagger around, reeling, from one unpleasant surprise to the next. They get their hair cut ('Sometimes I wonder if it's just that he's a lousy barber...') they look at some gory magazines, ('We're just not ready for that shit') and they attend funerals of uncles ('My God—I never saw them acting this way before! They've all fallen apart!'). Weirdly, by giving his kids the vocabularies of adults, he really captures the neuroses of childhood. We begin life as we live it now: Dazed, angry, and bitter at our own fundamental lack of control." – Paul Constant, The Stranger
• Review: "Fantagraphics has a nice introduction giving a brief biography of Kelly, and describing many of the struggles he had with Pogo and syndication. There is also a fantastic notes section at the end, which points out historical trivia as well as giving the context for some of the strips.... It’s possible that the appeal of Pogo may be lost on folks who are so used to everything that it influenced, be it talking animal comedies or political satires. Doesn’t matter to me, though. This strip is funny, well-drawn, and features a huge mass of likeable characters doing entertaining things. Put it together with Fantagraphics’ excellent presentation, and you have a definite must-buy." – Sean Gaffney, Manga Bookshelf
• Review: "Greg Sadowski and Fantagraphics’ Setting the Standard is perhaps the best book on Alex Toth that has been published thus far... Sadowski takes a straightforward, comprehensive approach and so Setting the Standard can rest comfortably on the bookshelf next to Fantagraphics’ other excellent recent collections of essential comics such as Hal Foster’s Prince Valiant, Roy Crane’s Captain Easy and Buz Sawyer and Carl Barks’ Disney epics.... There are... many passages of thoughtful comics storytelling. The romance work is often brilliantly articulated and visualized... Toth’s handling of horror and suspense is intuitive, sometimes harrowing and exhibits his more radical inventions.... In Sadowski’s book, Toth’s work speaks for itself and the artist likewise. The book’s assemblage and design are very well done to make a package which is pulpy but tasteful, not cheap nor overly slick, not high/low cute or old-boy sentimental. It provides a complete and important body of work by a great cartoonist." – James Romberger (contributor to the final Mome), The Hooded Utilitarian
• Review: "The good news: it’s here, it’s real. The better news: it’s incredible. Walt Kelly’s lively, robust, and poetic world is faithfully and lovingly produced in this, the first of a proposed twelve volume series. The hardcover is printed horizontally, maintaining the integrity of the 'strip' format, with ample margins to avoid any gutter-loss. Fantagraphics knew this first volume would be scrutinized by hardcore Pogofans, and they’ve outdone expectations, dating each strip, providing historical context for the more esoteric 1940s references, and even reproducing the color Sunday strips.... Through the Wild Blue Wonder is one of our Best Comics and Graphic Novels of 2011, and there might not be a better gift this holiday for the historical and literary comics fan." – Alex Carr, Omnivoracious (Amazon.com)
• Review: "The usually tight-gripped Disney empire agreed to turn over their most treasured property to Fantagraphics (yes, again!). The results are eye-opening, featuring a Mickey that might be unfamiliar to most present-day fans. The stories are dense, packing plenty of dialogue into the strips — and the themes are darker than the bright-eyed, factory-sealed tales of today. Mickey is multi-dimensional in the first volume, Race to Death Valley, making rash decisions without much concern for everyone’s safety. Thankfully, Minnie is by his side to both reign him in and sometimes encourage his recklessness. The reproduction is crisp — the black inks are meticulous in their separation, and the book is augmented with over 50 pages of essays and Mickey esoterica. Volume 2, Trapped on Treasure Island, published last month, and Fantagraphics has a gift edition slipcase that contains both volumes. This dynamic look is a revelation in the life of the character who started it all for Disney." – Alex Carr, Omnivoracious (Amazon.com)
• Plug: At Comic Book Resources' "Black Friday Comics Shopping Guide": "Fantagraphics is all over the legacies of some of the best artists ever to work for the Walt Disney company with Floyd Gottfredson's Mickey Mouse, vol. 1 ($29.99) and Carl Barks' Donald Duck ($24.99). Disney's most famous characters need no introduction, but their modern incarnations are so far from their roots that these collections will surprise anyone seeing these strips for the first time. Any of these volumes is a guaranteed smile."
• Plug: Deb Aoki's Manga Gift Guide at About.com Manga includes Wandering Son Vols. 1 & 2 by Shimura Takako: "This critically acclaimed series is available as over-sized hardcovers, which makes them especially gift-worthy, but the story is also charming and sensitive in a way that doesn't bash the reader over the head with a preachy agenda. Volume 2 is due out soon, so get that too if you can."
We got a couple of early advance copies of Wandering Son Vol. 2 by Shimura Takako here at the office a couple days ago — here's a couple of quickie snaps to tide you over until we get the full previews set up. This beautifully-told story has many eager and devoted fans and we're as excited to get it into their hands as they are to read it! Have you pre-ordered your copy yet?
• Review/Interview: "Leslie Stein is a pretty lady who made a comic [Eye of the Majestic Creature] in which she is a cute/gross little humanoid with eyes that are like coins and a best friend who is a guitar. Her comical alter ego is named Larry Bear and her guitar's name is Marshy. They live in a house in a field, but it's pretty clear that almost everything they experience is some joked-up fantasized autobiographical story. It's hard to know what's based on reality and what isn't, and which characters are based on real folks and which are just supposed to be Leslie's internal feelings personified.... Leslie's work communicates an urban loneliness that I relate to a lot, seeing as we live in the same place. It's cute and sad and familiar, especially if you're 30 or under." – Nick Gazin, who also talks to Leslie at Vice: "I think for the most part she represents the lighter side of my personality. I'm happy when I'm drawing and I hope that comes across through her on the page, in whatever situation she is in. She dresses a bit weirder than I do, so that's fun. I'm not really a shy person, but I feel like I'm constantly embarrassing myself. She doesn't have that self-consciousness."
• Review: "Post-apocalyptic stories tend to be grim, but The Hidden is very dark indeed.... The book feels like a modern-day gothic horror. The survivors are metaphors for humanity, with a heroic few battling an onslaught of monsters, human or otherwise. Humanity is on the brink of extinction, and still people bring out the worst in one another.... Sala’s illustration is compelling... ★★★★ [out of 5]" – Grovel
• Review: "[Kevin] Avery’s book, Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson, is an admirably unorthodox construction that starts with a bracing 180-page biography of Paul followed by a 265 page collection of Nelson’s music writing, primarily that from the seventies focusing on the artists he was particularly drawn to.... What’s impressive about Avery’s biographic half of the book is that he’s produced both an intimate personal bio and a comprehensive professional bio as well. He’s talked to virtually everyone who Nelson inspired or mentored in rock criticism starting in the latter half of the sixties and into the Rolling Stone years. These knuckleheads are a who’s who of American rock criticism, God help us." – Joe Carducci (SST Records, Rock and the Pop Narcotic), The New Vulgate
• Review: "I was looking forward to this new book [Setting the Standard] a/ because it's Alex Toth and b/ because it reprints 60 stories, Toth's entire contribution to the catalogue of a long defunct publisher whose material we rarely see reprinted.... Toth's work has long been admired for its distilled simplicity of black and white design, but these early pages fizz and bubble with life.... The book under discussion is from Fantagraphics, with the original printed pages restored in all their colours by Greg Sadowski, who put the whole package together with extensive notes..." – Eddie Campbell (via The Comics Reporter)
• Plugs: Brian Ralph's choices for his guest contribution to Robot 6's weekly "What Are You Reading?" column include Captain Easy Vol. 2 by Roy Crane ("It’s a fun combination of action and laughs. Sometimes very serious and other times very cartoony, in both story and art style. I just love the way Roy Crane draws these goons. And the colors! The palettes are unusual and beautiful.") and Setting the Standard: Comics by Alex Toth 1952-1954 ("I’ll read one of these [stories] before I go to bed. I like that in a short page count he quickly develops a rich story and twilight zoney twist. Sometimes it’s a bizarre romance or horror story with a stunning conclusion. They’re a fun read.")
• Review: "Brief but witty dialogue and black humor come together in a brutal satire of deception, torture and the death penalty. This comic is a good comedy that combines the sense of adventure and intrigue of Jason's comics, his 'tempo' and narrative tone, with a trio of protagonists who I came to appreciate in very few pages. Emotion, gags, surprises, and an ending that you do not expect. Isle of 100,000 Graves is an original and very enjoyable read that keeps Jason as a safe bet in the shopping cart. Between tenderness and cruelty, of course the contribution of writer Fabien Vehlmann to the Norwegian cartoonist's particular universe could not have been more successful." – Alita News (translated from Spanish)
• Review: "Warm-hearted, deceptively heart-wrenching, challenging, charming and irresistibly addictive, Love and Rockets: New Stories is a grown up comics fan’s dream come true and remains as valid and groundbreaking as its earlier incarnations — the diamond point of the cutting edge of American graphic narrative." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Interview:The Comics Reporter 's Tom Spurgeon talks to backbone Mome contributor T. Edward Bak about his experience at Boomfest in St. Petersburg, Russia: "There were so many things going on. There were people interested in all of the presentations. They took place over four or five hours, in three or four different centers. A lot of artists were there. For these kinds of presentations, it was other artists attending. It was like APE: you have people that are making comics or are interested in making comics."
• Interview: At The Comics Journal, Matt Seneca enjoys a studio visit and thoughtful discussion with Gary Panter: "That’s one of the games that modern art plays: where does it go, and what does it affect by trying to go? And so, usually in fine art, you’re making a kind of pregnant or puzzling object, or some object that has presence and which calls to people, hopefully. It arrests them for a second and various things happen, whereas in a comic, I want people lying in bed reading it. I want people lying in bed and reading it, and you forget you’re reading it, and you go in the story, and you’re like, 'Whoa! What happened?' And you either remember it or you don’t."
• Review: "This is hugely imaginative, exultantly silly, gag-a-minute writing that manages to comment on the popular culture of the last century while willfully wallowing in it — Python with a wry dose of Pynchon.... Were you, dear reader, to ask me if the brevity of [Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910-2010]'s chronologically arranged but narratively stand-alone chapters made it an ideal book for bathroom reading, I would call you a coarse, disgusting pig-person, demand that you leave my office, and wipe down the chair you'd been sitting in. ... But, yes." – Glen Weldon, NPR Monkey See
• Interview:SF Weekly's Casey Burchby, who says "Drawing inspiration from Mad among other influences, Kupperman's brand of humor is punchy and ridiculous... Like the best satire, it reflects a vision of our world that is simultaneously accurate and abstracted. Kupperman's new book, Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910 - 2010, comes from the same comedic source," talks to Michael Kupperman: "Some of my comedic influences are deliberately funny, others are not. The unwittingly bad, the pompously ineffectual, the flimsily maudlin -- these are all genres I warm to. The Sunday comics page on 9/11 this year was a good example. Like it does anyone any good to see Hagar and Momma weeping."
• Review: "I literally dropped everything to read this thing.... Volume three in Ryan’s madcap ultra-violent combat comic [Prison Pit] is firmly in the vein, so to speak, of the first installment: No-holds-barred body-horror battle between monster-men who look like refugees from an alternate-universe He-Man whose house artist was Pushead instead of Earl Norem.... It is... a series fixated not just on surviving the present moment on a narrative level, but on drawing that moment out to ludicrous lengths on a visual level. Its action is defined by page after page of grotesque bodily transformations depicted beat by gruesome beat.... The introduction of the 'arch enemy' is a tantalizing link to the past for a story that draws so much of its power from living (and dying) in the now." – Sean T. Collins, The Comics Journal
• Review: "Everything Is an Afterthought presents a vision of the heyday of rock journalism, times that have long past.... The story Kevin Avery tells is of someone who believed passionately in the art that moved him... Few of the artists profiled in the selected works do much for me — late ‘70s Rod Stewart, Jackson Browne, [Warren] Zevon — but Nelson writes about each with such care and insight that I went back to listen to all of them again." – Alex Rawls, Offbeat
• Review: "Oddly enough, the title, its font and also the cover art of The Man Who Grew His Beard made me think of the 1985 book The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by neurologist Oliver Sacks describing the case histories of some of his patients, which given the completely insane collection of shorts in this book, both in terms of the stories and art, may not be entirely coincidental, I suspect. If surreal, single-panel humorist David Shrigley were ever to do comics, this is exactly what they would be like, to the point that I had to do a quick google search to check Olivier Schrauwen wasn’t a nom de plume for Mr. Shrigley. He isn’t." – Jonathan Rigby, Page 45
• List:Comics Bulletin includes Palomar by Gilbert Hernandez among their "Top Ten Comics to Share with Your Boyfriend and/or Girlfriend": "Palomar is really defined by its characterization, with the town's mayor Luba and her family often acting as the center. The stories set in Palomar are a large part of why Love & Rockets became such an important work as they showed how the scope of novels could be applied to the medium."
• Profile: At Trouble with Comics, Alan David Doane details his appreciation of the work of Bernard Krigstein, noting: "A few years ago, Fantagraphics Books released B. Krigstein: Volume One by Greg Sadowski. This oversized hardcover artbook/biography is one of the finest of its kind ever released, and although Krigstein’s story is largely one of restriction and boundaries, it should be noted that B. Krigstein Vol. 1 is not a depressing book. Its author was meticulous in his creation of a lasting, vital document of the subject, a man who took life and art very seriously and suffered greatly for both. The book is, in fact, a celebration of the life and work of Bernard Krigstein, and even if you think you know who that is, I guarantee you that by the time you get to the end of the book, you’re going to know the man and his work one hell of a lot better."
• Plugs: Martha Cornog of Library Journal spotlights some of our upcoming releases in the latest "Graphic Novels Prepub Alert":
The Life and Death of Fritz the Cat by Robert Crumb: "Crumb's infamous and ever-horny Fritz has been reprinted before, but not recently and never in hardcover.... An underground classic, with touches of critical brilliance amid its college-kid-wannabe plots."
The Crumb Compendium by Carl Richter: "Mr. Natural turns 45 next year, as many years as his creator Robert Crumb has been publishing. Fantagraphics is billing this compendium as the 'definitive reference guide' to Crumb's oeuvre, covering published comics plus other artwork, merchandise, articles and interviews, characters, and photographs. Richter is a Crumb collector who served as consultant to Fantagraphics on The Complete Crumb Comics set, and Crumb himself helped out. Hey, guys, keep on truckin'!"
Young Romance: The Best of Simon & Kirby's 1940s-'50s Romance Comics by Joe Simon & Jack Kirby, ed. by Michel Gagné: "The guys who created Captain America also jump-started romance comics with several vanguard series. Top selling until the Comics Code clashed with '60s permissiveness, the genre captured feminine readers even if plots and characters tended to push patriarchal sex roles and a Stepford Wives take on coupledom."
• Interview: Brian Heater's conversation with Drew Friedman at The Daily Cross Hatch continues: "Another reason I want to quit these books is that there’s always younger comedians coming up, and I just can’t keep up. Howard Stern’s gonna be an old guy in a couple of years.... I’m not crazy about some of them, and I just don’t want to think about drawing Adam Sandler when he’s an old man, or Ben Stiller, or even Jerry Seinfeld. It just doesn’t appeal to me."
• Lissa Pattillo of Kuriousity, who inadvertently helped break the news on Twitter, comments: "I’m really looking forward to reading Heart of Thomas. It piqued my interest after coming up a number of times during conversations re: Moto Hagio and Drunken Dream. We’ve got a year to wait but for almost 500+ pages, hardcover, and a classic manga we’d only dream of any other publisher releasing, it’ll be well worth it!"
• Brigid Alverson's MTV Geek coverage of our announcement provides excellent background on the book and its creator
• "Moto Hagio fans have a whole lot more to be happy about as Fantagraphics has announced that they’re following up their release of A Drunken Dream and Other Stories with Heart of Thomas come next August. The company put a lot behind the release this past year and it garnered them a lot of critical acclaim both from the in the know manga crowd but also from the mainstream side, making it much easier to jump into another prestige style release from the celebrated mangaka." – Chris Beveridge, The Fandom Post
Word has slipped out and is spreading around the Twittersphere like wildfire, so we thought we'd make it official: following our wildly successful edition of A Drunken Dream and Other Stories by Moto Hagio, we will be publishing Hagio-sensei's The Heart of Thomas (Thomas no Shinzō /トーマの心臓), edited and translated by Matt Thorn, next year. The book is planned to be a $35.00, 8" x 10" 480-page hardcover, black and white with 16 pages of duotone (as seen above), and is currently scheduled for August 2012, subject to change.
We'll be posting more information about this book and our complete Spring/Summer 2012 lineup in the near future — stay tuned!
[Note: This post has been updated to add the missing "The" to the title.]