Saturday, May 1 marks the 9th installment of Free Comic Book Day. This annual promotion is intended to expose new readers to the medium and acknowledge loyal patrons with a free comic book produced especially for the occasion. Over 30 books in a variety of genres were produced for Free Comic Book Day this year.
Fantagraphics Books’ contribution to Free Comic Book Day is a delightful comic by Jim Woodring sure to appeal to readers of all ages. WEATHERCRAFT and Other Unusual Stories showcases Woodring’s visionary approach to cartooning. Included is an excerpt from Jim’s forthcoming full-length WEATHERCRAFT graphic novel, a Woodring character guide, artworks rendered in his singular style, and other features. Yours for the asking at your local participating comic book retailer.
Jim Woodring himself will appear at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery in Seattle on Free Comic Book Day from noon to 1:00 PM to pass out complimentary copies. We’ll also have a supply of Drawn & Quarterly’s free comic book YOW! featuring John Stanley stories from Nancy, Melvin Monster and 13 Going on 18. You’ll have one last chance to view the stunning exhibition of original art by Gilbert Hernandez and peruse a bevy of beautiful new books from the world’s greatest cartoonists. See you then.
Originally created in 1997 and 1998 for the underground anthology Zero Zero, The Search for Smilin’ Ed is the latest of Kim Deitch’s graphic novels to showcase his obsessive burrowing into the nooks and crannies of vintage American popular culture.
Where Boulevard of Broken Dreams focused on the earliest days of the animation industry, Alias the Cat delved into the history of comic strips, and “Molly O’Dare” (collected in Shadowland) concerned vintage movie serials, The Search for Smilin’ Ed explores the wacky world of children’s TV shows.
Launched on his latest investigation by a remark from his brother about a shared childhood favorite (“Y’know, I heard that when Smilin’ Ed died... his body was NEVER found!”), Deitch begins to uncover some truly amazing things about the kiddie-show host and his malevolent sidekick, Froggy the Gremlin. Meanwhile, Deitch’s muse and nemesis Waldo the Cat abandons Deitch to hang out with some demon buddies, and soon both Waldo and Deitch are closing in on the mysteries of Smilin’ Ed and Froggy.
Ranging across the entire 20th century, replete with flashbacks, stories within stories, and guest appearances from other Deitch regulars, The Search for Smilin’ Ed is a narrative whirligig that shows Deitch at his wildest and woolliest. For those whose heads have started to spin at the complexity of Deitch's mythology, we've included a full-color two-way fold-out guide to "The Kim Deitch Universe," and Deitch scholar Bill Kartalopoulos offers a lengthy essay on the ins and outs of this ever-evolving, ever-expanding world where fantasy, reality, and satire combine, clash, and are sometimes downright indistinguishable.
Bonus! Deitch has also created a brand new story starring Waldo in his 21st century post-Alias the Cat state of domestic bliss, stumbling across an army of (French-) talking beavers. Of course, there’s a story behind that...
“Kim Deitch has created a private world as fully realized in its own way as Faulkner’s. He’s an American original, a spinner of yarns whose beautifully structured pages and intricate plots conjure up a haunting and haunted American past.” – Art Spiegelman
Superficially resembling 1960s teenage humor comics, Tim Hensley’s graphic novel Wally Gropius is actually an acute satire of power, celebrityhood, and modern culture that tells the story of the titular character, who bears a closer resemblance to a teenaged Richie Rich or a classmate of Archie Andrews at Riverdale High than he does the famous Bauhaus architect whose name he shares.
Wally is the human Dow Jones, the heir to a vast petrochemical conglomerate. When the elder Thaddeus Gropius confronts Wally with the boilerplate plot ultimatum that he must marry “the saddest girl in the world” or be disinherited, a yarn unravels that is part screwball comedy and part unhinged parable on the lucrativeness of changing your identity.
Hensley’s dialogue is witty, lyrical, sampled, dada, and elliptical — all in the service of a very bizarre mystery. There’s sex, violence, rock and roll, intrigue, and betrayal — all brought home in Hensley’s truly inimitable style. Created during an era when another well-off “W” was stuffing the coffers of the morbidly solvent, Wally Gropius transforms futile daydreams and nightmares into the absurdity of capital.
Originally serialized in Fantagraphics' house anthology Mome, the story is presented here in a larger format with additional, previously unseen material.
“One of my favorite ‘graphic novels’ of all time. Hilarious and utterly unique, Wally Gropius is a work of unassuming genius that rewards on ever-deepening levels with each rereading.” — Daniel Clowes
A late-ish addendum to our launch of Joe Daly's Dungeon Quest, Book 1: we're pleased to now offer that book together with Joe's previous book, The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book, for a special discounted price of $29.99 (a savings of about 6 bucks)! Two books full of intrigue, action, weird characters and stoner humor delineated in stunning, hyper-detailed clear-line cartooning. Order right here and we'll ship you both books when Dungeon Quest arrives in our warehouse (and if you've already placed an order for both books individually, contact us and we'll adjust your order).
One day Millennium Boy decided to grab his hobo stick, his bandanna, and his Swiss Army knife, bid his mom goodbye, and head off on a quest for adventure. Joined by his best friend Steve (weapon: baseball bat; clothing: wife beater, cargo pants and sandals), they soon find themselves in a violent altercation with two other adventure seekers. It ends badly for their antagonists (“Whoa, check it out, dude! You actually knocked this dude’s brain right out of his cranium!”) and Millennium Boy and Steve become the proud owners of fancy weapons upgrades (a crowbar and a steel chain). So on they trek, and the next inductee to their group is the muscle-bound Lash Penis.
And then things start getting weird!
Readers of 2009’s Red Monkey Double Happiness Book will recognize Joe Daly’s delightfully unique stoner/philosopher dialogue and distinctive character designs, but the hilarious over-the-top Role Playing Game action (complete with periodic updates for each character’s status in ten criteria, including “dexterity,” “intelligence,” and “money”) propel this new story into a heretofore unachieved action-comedy realm. By the end of this book (the first chapter of a projected four-part epic), the trio has been joined by Nerdgirl the Archer, Lash Penis has nearly had his arm cut off, they’ve acquired a whole new nifty bag of tricks, and the menaces have become increasingly surreal and lethal. Where will it end?
Winner, Prix special du Jury (Jury Prize), 2010 Festival International de la Bande Desinée d'Angoulême
For over 20 years now, Jim Woodring has delighted, touched, and puzzled readers around the world with his lush, wordless tales of “Frank.”
Weathercraft is Woodring’s first full-length graphic novel set in this world — indeed, Woodring’s first graphic novel, period! — and it features the same hypnotically gorgeous linework and mystical iconography.
As it happens, Frank has only a brief supporting appearance in Weathercraft, which actually stars Manhog, Woodring’s pathetic, brutish everyman (or everyhog), who had previously made several appearances in “Frank” stories (as well as a stunning solo turn in the short story “Gentlemanhog”).
After enduring 32 pages of almost incomprehensible suffering, Manhog embarks upon a transformative journey and attains enlightenment. He wants to go to celestial realms but instead altruistically returns to the unifactor to undo a wrong he has inadvertently brought about: The transformation of the evil politician Whim into a mind-destroying plant-demon who distorts and enslaves Frank and his friends. The new and metaphysically expanded Manhog sets out for a final battle with Whim...
Weathercraft also co-stars Frank’s cast of beloved supporting characters, including Frank’s Faux Pa and the diminutive, mailbox-like Pupshaw and Pushpaw; it is both a fully independent story that is a great introduction to Woodring’s world, and a sublime addition to, and extension of, the Frank stories.
When Fantagraphics launched our collection of Krazy Kat Sunday strips back in 2002, we picked up with the 10th and 11th years of the legendary strip (1925-1926) because another publisher had already collected the first nine during the 1980s and 1990s. But now, with that publisher long gone and their Krazy Kat collections fetching record prices (some over $100!) among collectors, it’s time to go back and get every one of these comic-strip masterpieces back into print — re-scanned and re-retouched from original tearsheets, using 21st century digital resources.
Fantagraphics will be collecting these first nine years of Sundays into three volumes comprising three years apiece, starting with the very first Sundays from 1916 through 1918, and incorporating all the original articles and special features from the first edition, including rare art, series editor Bill Blackbeard’s definitive historical overview “The Kat’s Kreation,” and updated and expanded “DeBaffler” endnotes explaining some of the arcana behind the strip’s jokes.
Krazy Kat, with its eternally beguiling love triangle of kat/dog/mouse, its fantastically inventive language, and its haunting, minimalist desert décor, has consistently been rated (literally) the best comic strip ever created, and Fantagraphics’ award-winning series one of the best classic comic-strip reprint series ever published. Krazy and Ignatz 1916-1918, the 11th of a projected 13 volumes collecting the entirety of the Sundays, brings us within a brick’s throw of finishing “The Komplete Kat Sundays” once and for all!
The multiple Harvey and Eisner Award nominee returns for its fifth year. With this issue, the series has now featured over 2000 pages of comics in its four and half years of existence (2109, to be exact), which may be a record for an English-language alternative comics anthology. This issue's cover is by Nate Neal, who delivers "The Neurotic Nexus of Creation," a 15-page explication of the creative process. MOME 18 also includes the first new comic in several years by Dave Cooper, as well as the MOME debuts of Tim Lane, Ivan Brun, Joe Daly, and Jon Adams. Also returning are MOME stalwarts Lilli Carré, Ben Jones, Frank Santoro, Jon Vermilyea, Nicolas Mahler, Ted Stearn, Renée French, Conor O'Keefe, Derek Van Gieson, and T. Edward Bak.
Download an EXCLUSIVE 15-page PDF excerpt (5.9 MB) with a page from every artist in the issue.
Did you ever wonder how to stop brooding if your ears are protruding? Or how to indulge yourself and snore without being a bore? Or for the masochists among you, how to sit on a tack? Or for the narcissists, how to contemplate the back of your pate? Or something as simple as how to get out of bed gracefully? Or something a bit more challenging like how to boot a fly off your snoot? Or, if you’re the violent type, what’s the best way to kick someone in the teeth? Or, for those striving for greater refinement, how to be particular and is perpendicular?
If these conundrums have perplexed and mystified you, the remedy is at hand: cartooning genius Basil Wolverton’s "Culture Corner," an indispensable guide to demystifying life’s most worrisome and disconcerting social quandaries. With his fictional host, Croucher K. Conk, Q.O.C (Queer Old Coot), Wolverton would posit the problem and offer a uniquely Wolvertonian solution over seven or eight panels, each one a miniature masterpiece of scandalous visual humor.
Wolverton’s feature "Culture Corner" originally appeared every month in Fawcett’s Whiz Comics (featuring the adventures of Captain Marvel) from 1945 to 1952. Each episode would tackle a different subject from the practical to the pixilated — "How to cross a busy street" to "How to tweak a beak." Fantagraphics’ collection of the complete strips is the first time the little known feature has been reprinted since its original publication over 60 years ago! Revered by aficionados, it contains some of Wolverton’s most outrageous drawing and his trademarked lexicon of wacky wordplay.
The Fantagraphics edition also contains Wolverton’s original pencil versions of each strip, which have been carefully preserved over the years, and demonstrate a looser, more spontaneous interpretation of the finished strips.
World War I, that awful, gaping wound in the history of Europe, has long been an obsession of Jacques Tardi’s. (His very first — rejected — comics story dealt with the subject, as does his most recent work, the two-volume Putain de Guerre.) But It Was the War of the trenches is Tardi’s defining, masterful statement on the subject, a graphic novel that can stand shoulder to shoulder with Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front and Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms.
Tardi is not interested in the national politics, the strategies, or the battles. Like Remarque, he focuses on the day to day of the grunts in the trenches, and, with icy, controlled fury and disgust, with sardonic yet deeply sympathetic narration, he brings that existence alive as no one has before or since. Yet he also delves deeply into the underlying causes of the war, the madness, the cynical political exploitation of patriotism. And in a final, heartbreaking coda, Tardi grimly itemizes the ghastly human cost of the war, and lays out the future 20th century conflicts, all of which seem to spring from this global burst of insanity.
Trenches features some of Tardi’s most stunning artwork. Rendered in an inhabitually lush illustrative style, inspired both by abundant photographic documentation and classic American war comics, augmented by a sophisticated, gorgeous use of Craftint tones, Trenches is somehow simultaneously atypical and a perfect encapsulation of Tardi’s mature style. It is the indisputable centerpiece of Tardi’s oeuvre.
It Was the War of the Trenches has been an object of fascination for North American publishers: RAW published a chapter in the early 1980s, and Drawn and Quarterly magazine serialized a few more in the 1990s. But only a small fraction of Trenches has ever been made available to the English speaking public (in now out of print publications); the Fantagraphics edition, the third in an ongoing collection of the works of this great master, finally remedies this situation.
“‘The war to end all wars’ has become a magisterial comic book to end all comic books. I seldom give blurbs, but this book is an essential classic. Among all of Jacques Tardi's towering achievements as a comics artist, nothing looms larger than this devastating crater of a work. It’s a compulsively readable wail of Existential despair, a kaleidoscope of war’s dehumanizing brutality and of Everyman’s suffering, as well as a deadpan masterpiece of the darkest black humor. The richly composed and obsessively researched drawings — perfectly poised between cartoon and illustration — march to the relentless beats of Tardi’s three horizontal panels per page to dig a hole deep inside your brain. This is one Hell of a book.” —Art Spiegelman
"Tardi’s depiction of the First World War is so impassioned and visceral that it can be compared to the work of the artists who actually served in the trenches." – Joe Sacco