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JOHN WATERS TALKS CHARLIE BROWN AS THE '60S WIND DOWN.
As we rush toward the end of Peanuts' second full decade, Snoopy finds himself almost completely engrossed in his persona as the World War I Flying Ace — to the point where he goes to camp with Charlie Brown and maintains his persona throughout the entire two-week period (much to Peppermint Patty's bafflement).
Still, Snoopy looms large, so this volume (a particularly Snoopy-heavy one) sees him arm-wrestling Lucy as the "Masked Marvel" and then taking off for Petaluma for the national arm-wrestling championship; impersonating a vulture and a "Cheshire Beagle"; enjoying golf and hockey; attempting a jaunt to France for an ice-skating championship; running for office on the "Paw" ticket; being traded to Peppermint Patty's baseball team, then un-traded and installed as team manager by a guilt-ridden Charlie Brown; as well as dealing with the return of his original owner, Lila. If you're surprised by that last one, imagine how Charlie Brown feels...
Lila makes only a brief appearance (as does José Peterson, a short-lived — and short — star member of Charlie Brown's baseball team), but this volume sees the appearance of what would be Schulz's most controversial major character: Franklin. (Yes, in 1968 the introduction of a Black character caused a stir.)
Peppermint Patty, working toward her ascendancy as one of the major Peanuts players in the 1970s and 1980s, also has several major turns, including a storyline in which she’s the tent monitor for three little girls (who call her "Sir" — a joke Schulz would pick up later with Peppermint Patty's friend Marcie).
Stories involving other characters include a sequence in which Linus's flippant comment to his Gramma that he'll kick his blanket habit when she kicks her smoking habit backfires; Lucy bullies Linus, pesters Schroeder, and organizes a "crab-in"; plus Charlie Brown copes with Valentine's Day depression, the Little Red-Haired Girl, the increasingly malevolent kite-eating tree, and baseball losses. In other words: Vintage Peanuts!
"The real war," said Walt Whitman, "will never get in the books." During World War II, the closest most Americans ever came to the "real war" was through the cartoons of Bill Mauldin, the most beloved enlisted man in the U.S. Army.
Here, for the first time, Fantagraphics Books brings together Mauldin's complete works from 1940 through the end of the war. This collection of over 600 cartoons, most never before reprinted, is more than the record of a great artist: it is an essential chronicle of America's citizen-soldiers from peace through war to victory.
Bill Mauldin knew war because he was in it. He had created his characters, Willie and Joe, at age 18, before Pearl Harbor, while training with the 45th Infantry Division and cartooning part-time for the camp newspaper. His brilliant send-ups of officers were pure infantry, and the men loved it.
After wading ashore with his division on the first of its four beach invasions in July 1943, Mauldin and his men changed — and Mauldin's cartoons changed accordingly. Months of miserable weather, bad food, and tedium interrupted by the terror of intense bombing and artillery fire took its toll. By the year's end, virtually every man in Mauldin's original rifle company was killed, wounded, or captured.
The wrinkles in Willie and Joe's uniforms deepened, the bristle on their faces grew, and the eyes — "too old for those young bodies," as Mauldin put it — betrayed a weariness that would remain the entire war. With their heavy brush lines, detailed battlescapes, and pidgin of army slang and slum dialect, Mauldin's cartoons and captions recreated on paper the fully realized world of the American combat soldier. Their dark, often insubordinate humor sparked controversy among army brass and incensed General George S. Patton, Jr.
This is the first of several volumes publishing the best of Bill Mauldin's single panel strips from 1940 to 1991 (when he stopped drawing). His Willie & Joe cartoons are presented in a deluxe, beautifully designed two-volume slipcased edition of over 600 pages. The series is edited by Todd DePastino, whose Mauldin scholarship is on full display in a biography of the artist released in February 2008 from W.W. Norton. Willie & Joe contains an introduction and running commentary by DePastino, providing context for the drawings, pertinent biographical details of Mauldin's life, and occasional background on specific cartoons (such as the ones that made Patton howl).
Everyman Glenn Ganges ruminates on the simple times of the dot-com era when the reality of business was propped up by the unreality of addictive technology and hope. Kevin Huizenga cleverly parallels that unreality with the unreality of addictive networked first-person shooter video games, and the attempts of people around him to genuinely connect with each other. Huizenga’s elegant neo-clear-line style brings a crispness and humor to these low-key slice-of-life stories, and the gray-blue duotone he has picked gives the art a new depth and complexity.
The Splitsville series concludes as Fuzz and Pluck struggle to survive after their worlds have been turned upside down. A mad race and a tug of war culminates in a fatal convergence that changes everything!
Funeral of the Heart is Leah Hayes' stylistic tour-de-force and graphic novel debut, featuring a series of short stories by Hayes and illustrated entirely using the otherworldly medium of scratchboard. Hayes creates a world of unease and ambiguity populated by obsessive characters, forlorn animals, and mysterious, inanimate objects; odd occurrences, unnerving deaths and unconventional but genuine love bind these characters and their stories together. In "The Bathroom," a middle-aged couple discover a mysterious tunnel in their poolhouse after a neighbor's child accidentally drowns in their pool — leading to an immaculate bathroom and another drowning. In "The Needle," two sisters suffer the death of their grandmother as well as her possible resurrection at the hands of the woman with the needle.
The stories are hand lettered and juxtaposed against stark, highly stylized, graphically powerful, black and white images. Stories with titles like "The Bathroom," "The Needle," and "The Hair" sound innocuous, but they aren't fables that should be read to one's children — unless your children enjoy being made uneasy by beautiful things.
A stand-alone graphic novel from the "Locas" universe. It starts with a barely-glimpsed slaying ("Life Through Whispers") and ends with a funeral ("Male Torso Found in L.A. River"). Even though (or perhaps because) he's still carrying the torch for Maggie, Ray diligently pursues the dangerous and annoying "Frogmouth," aspiring actress and full-time train wreck, from seedy bars and back alleys through comic book conventions... all the way to the ultimate, and unexpected, consummation. Meanwhile, Hopey spends an eventful week during which she undergoes a couple of major life changes, both personal and professional... and for that matter cosmetic. New characters include Hopey's long-suffering on-the-side squeeze Grace; Maggie's new roommate, the sweet-natured jockette "Angel of Tarzana;" and the live-wire would-be gangsta Elmer — while such classic Love and Rockets characters as the hard-living Doyle, the aging but still-rocking Terry, and the mysterious super-heroine Alarma pop up in the margins... As does Maggie, well off stage but visible as Ray's resentful ex, Angel's roommate, and (forever and still) Hopey's best friend.
Fantagraphics Books is proud to re-release one of the most powerful and moving books in its distinguished publishing history: Debbie Drechsler's first collection of short comic stories, Daddy's Girl. Originally published in 1995 and distributed only to comic book specialty stores, Daddy's Girl was ahead of its time: Drechsler's account of her abuse at the hands of her father, told from the point of view of an adolescent, is one of the most searingly honest, empathetic, and profoundly disturbing uses of the comics medium in its history. Drechsler's meticulous brush lines gather into heavy textures that suggest the claustrophobic tension of the environment that threatens her pre-teen and adolescent female protagonists. Characters such as Lily, who can't escape her father's abuse, and Franny, a girl whose desire to be accepted leads her into dangerous territory, struggle not to be visually and emotionally overwhelmed. Central to this quasi-memoir is Lily's relationship to her father — a confused jumble of fear, trepidation, and love.
Jordan Crane's all-ages classic is in paperback for the first time! This gorgeously packaged (yet affordable) children's fantasy has become an instant classic since its original hardcover release in 2005, becoming a perennial bestseller for Fantagraphics in three hardcover printings. This paperback edition — a first — includes five new pages not included previously!
On their way through the city to school, Simon and his cat Jack keep taking shortcuts that lead them through fantasy worlds of wooden monsters and insatiable appetites, just for starters. Will they make back home safely? This is undoubtedly one of the more handsome and unique packages in recent memory, with a brilliant graphic novel inside that justifies its elegant format. The Clouds Above calls to mind everything from Where the Wild Things Are to The Wizard of Oz to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, with its depiction of a fantastic world that lurks just around the corner from reality and that only children believe exists.
We made brief mention of this a few posts back, but here's the full announcement:
By popular demand — by which we mean “endless nagging from people on the TCJ.com message board” — The Comics Journal is pleased to announce that online-only subscriptions are now available, at over half off the print-subscription price. Choose from five-issue and ten-issue subscriptions to the subscriber section of the TCJ website, where you can not only read the current issue over the Internet, but every issue from TCJ #278 to present as well! Details at the links.
But wait, there’s more! We realize that you might want a look at what you’re purchasing, so for one week only, we’ve decided to make the online version of current issue, TCJ #288, free in its entirety for your reading pleasure. The whole thing’s there, from the best-of-2007 section to the comics section, and there’s no need to register — just click here and start reading! Offer ends Sunday evening, March 16, at which time the issue goes back behind the subscriber firewall.