Roy Crane is one of America’s greatest cartoonists and Fantagraphics is embarking upon an ambitious reprinting of his best work, beginning with his gorgeous adventure strip — Captain Easy.
Crane created the first American adventure strip — before Hal Foster’s Tarzan and Prince Valiant, before Milton Caniff’s Terry and the Pirates, before Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon — and quickly established himself as a master of the comic strip. Begun in 1924 under the eponymous title Wash Tubbs, within four months it moved from a gag-a-day strip about a girl-crazy young grocery store clerk to an adventure strip when Wash Tubbs embarks on a treasure hunt. Captain Easy was introduced in 1929 and began starring in his own Sunday page in 1933, which begins our first volume of Captain Easy.
The first of six volumes contains the earliest Sunday pages from 1933 to 1935. In his first adventure, Captain Easy visits a lost city, battles pirates, dons a deep-sea diving suit to explore a sunken ruin in search of treasure, and everywhere he goes, he finds beautiful women — a lost princess, a pirate queen, a savage woman in need of` “taming.” A romantic adventurer from a less politically correct age, Captain Easy is a Soldier of Fortune whose bravery and daring are exceeded only by his Southern gallantry.
Crane created the template for the adventure strip, combining adventure and humor in a Bigfoot cartooning style that perfectly conveyed the tongue-in-cheek tone and light-hearted thrills that kept readers on the edge of their seats. As comics historian Brian Walker put it, “the artist’s patented visual storytelling technique blended humor, drama, heroics, and pretty girls.” Crane’s Captain Easy influenced virtually every cartoonist who followed him — from Chester Gould (Dick Tracy) to Milton Caniff (Terry and the Pirates) — and even Hollywood’s adventure movies starring the likes of Cary Grant or Errol Flynn adopted Crane’s tone of two-fisted, good-natured derring-do. Citing Crane’s influence on comics, the artist Gil Kane once said, “Superman was Captain Easy; Batman was Captain Easy.” According to comic strip historian Richard Marschall, Crane was “a master not only of storytelling but of the art form, developing expressive techniques and a whole dictionary of conventions and signs for future comic strip artists.”
The first volume of Captain Easy also features a selection of Crane's original color guides, a biographical and critical introduction to Crane and his work by comics scholar Jeet Heer illustrated with rare Crane art, a preface by series editor Rick Norwood, and a foreword written by Charles M. Schulz for the 1974 Luna Press Wash Tubbs collection.
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!
Hate Annual #8 features a whopping new 20 page Buddy Bradley story where Lisa (everyone’s favorite psycho!) makes her first foray into show biz and gets way more than she bargained for! This issue of P. Bagge’s annual Hate also features strips compiled from his Discover Magazine gig: 5 biographies of scientists you’ve never heard of! — other than maybe Walter Reed, who’s well known only for that hell of a hospital named after him, and not for the handy yet forgotten fact that he discovered how malaria is spread... All that and many other odds and ends from hither and tither (see below for details). Why love when you can Hate!
The Rascals are back in another 100-plus vintage full-color pages of rollicking comedy and high adventure. Created in 1946 and 1947, these stories show Walt Kelly refining the style that would serve him so well for his later masterpiece — Pogo.
Much of this fourth volume is taken up with an extended four-part cycle of stories — almost a graphic novel, really! — in which Froggie and the Gang (including Julip the Goat) ship out with Professor Gravy on his showboat for an engagement downriver, which results (of course) in a series of action-packed adventures involving fisticuffs, gunfire, fireworks, and horse thieves. All this, plus more mundane kid pursuits such as a hotly-contested baseball game.
As always, series editor Steve Thompson is on hand to provide fascinating behind-the-scenes details on these marvelous stories, and beloved cartoonist Jeff Smith (Bone) provides an all-new cover. For anyone who loves those simple, innocent post-war times, the Our Gang stories are as refreshing as a 5-cent glass of home-made lemonade on a hot summer day.
“Kelly continues to take his version of the Gang further away from the typical ‘kid-jinks’ of the movies. He not only involves them in serious adventures but potentially life-threatening situations... For those of us ‘of a certain age,’ summers were filled with days when we were pushed out the door after breakfast and told not to come back until lunchtime, after which we were again sent out to play until supper. Just like the Gang kids, we wandered out of our own neighborhoods, met and interacted with strangers, fought and played with other kids, and so on. The Gang’s activities are more extreme than those of most of us reading the stories, but only in degree.” — from the introduction by Steve Thompson
Download an EXCLUSIVE 14-page PDF excerpt (9.7 MB) — that's a complete story!
THE LEGENDARY ANTI-WAR COMIC COLLECTED FOR THE FIRST TIME IN ITS ENTIRETY, NOW IN A 2010 SOFTCOVER EDITION.
Written by Archie Goodwin and drawn by such luminaries as Frank Frazetta, Wally Wood, John Severin, Alex Toth, Al Williamson, Russ Heath, Reed Crandall, and Gene Colan, Blazing Combat was originally published by independent comics publisher James Warren in 1965 and ’66. Following in the tradition of Harvey Kurtzman’s Two-Fisted Tales and Frontline Combat, Goodwin’s stories reflected the human realities and personal costs of war rather than exploiting the clichés of the traditional men’s adventure genre. They were among the best comics stories about war ever published.
Blazing Combat ended after its fourth issue when military post exchanges refused to sell the title due to their perception that it was an anti-war comic. Their hostility was fueled by the depiction of the then-current Vietnam War, especially a story entitled “Landscape,” which follows the thoughts of a simple Vietnamese peasant rice-farmer who pays the ultimate price simply for living where he does — and which was considered anti-war agitprop by the more hawkish members of the business community.
Writer Archie Goodwin and the original publisher James Warren discuss the death of Blazing Combat and market censorship as well as the creative gestation of the series in exclusive interviews.
Download an EXCLUSIVE 19-page PDF excerpt (3.4 MB) containing the first three stories. Also, click here to read Michael Catron's introduction to the book.
This item is available with two different cover designs. Please indicate your preference when ordering.
THE ACCLAIMED 2008 DEBUT, BACK IN PRINT IN A 2010 SOFTCOVER!
Abandoned Cars is Tim Lane’s first collection of graphic short stories, noir-ish narratives that are united by their exploration of the great American mythological drama by way of the desperate and haunted characters that populate its pages. Lane’s characters exist on the margins of society—alienated, floating in the void between hope and despair, confused but introspective. Some of them are experiencing the aftermath of an existential car crash—those surreal moments after a car accident, when time slows down and you’re trying to determine what just happened and how badly you’re hurt. Others have gone off the deep end, or were never anywhere but the deep end. Some are ridiculous, others dignified in their efforts to struggle to make sense of, and cope with, the absurdities, outrages, ghosts, and poisons in their lives.
The writing is straightforward, the stories mainstream but told in a pulpy idiom with an existential edge, often in the first person, reminiscent of David Goodis’s or Jim Thompson’s prose or of films like Pick-Up on South Street or Out of the Past. Visually, Lane’s drawing is in a realistic mode, reminiscent of Charles Burns, that heightens the tension in stories that veer between naturalism on the one hand and the comical, nightmarish, and hallucinatory on the other. Here, American culture is a thrift store and the characters are thrift store junkies living among the clutter. It’s an America depicted as a subdued and haunted Coney Island, made up of lost characters—boozing, brawling, haplessly shooting themselves in the face, and hopping freight trains in search of Elvis.
Abandoned Cars is an impressive debut of a major young American cartoonist.
2009 Ignatz Award Nominee: Outstanding Anthology or Collection
Download an EXCLUSIVE 16-page PDF excerpt containing the first two stories (2.2 MB).
This collection features over 120 pages of vintage Crumb comics starring the white-bearded, diminutive sage-cum-charlatan, ranging from charming, free-wheeling early '70s stories to the disturbing, controversial '90s stories (as seen in the Crumb movie), including the entire 40-page "Mr. Natural and Devil Girl" saga from Hup! (collected here for the first time in book form). Crumb's Mr. Natural is probably the most famous underground character of all (topping even Fritz the Cat and the Freak Brothers), recognizable even to "civilians." Don't miss this opportunity to snatch up this jam-packed collection of comics from one of the all-time masters, now available in hardcover for the very first time!
Now in FULL COLOR! This issue includes Jungle Princess battling rhino traders, a story of Broadway theatrics in “All About Drainage,” more of America’s favorite physicist/writer duo, Twain & Einstein, plus slightly cursed merchandise, Cockney grave robbers, and Cowboy Oscar Wilde.
Download an EXCLUSIVE 4-page PDF excerpt (4.7 MB) starring Jungle Princess!
Bonus Savings: Order the Thoroughly Thrizzled Pack containing Tales Designed to Thrizzle Vol. 1 (collecting issues 1-4 in a deluxe hardcover) plus issues 5 and 6 all together for a discounted price of $27.49 (a savings of about 7 bucks)! Order now and we'll ship you all 3 items when issue 6 arrives in our warehouse.
Do ideas of war and enemies hold a people together? Is a culture of conflict too seductive not to be irresistible? These are the questions Cathy Malkasian explores in her second graphic novel, Temperance.
Malkasian creates, as she did in the critically acclaimed Percy Gloom, a fully realized, multi-layered world, inhabited by vividly realized characters. After a brutal injury in battle, Lester has no memory of his prior life. For the next thirty years his wife does everything to keep him from remembering — and re-constructing — a society, Blessedbowl, that elevates him as a hero. Blessedbowl is a cultural convergence of lies, memories, stories, and beliefs. Its people thrive on ideas of persecution, exceptionality, and enemies, convinced that war lurks just outside their walls. They have come to depend on Lester, their greatest war hero, to lead the charge once the Final Battle begins.
What kind of enemy could topple such a people and its walls? Mere memory, it seems, as Lester gradually emerges from his amnesia. Temperance is an eyewitness’s account of recovery and awakening. The graphic novel works on two levels. It considers the concepts of violence, stories, and belief, and their place in holding a culture together, slyly echoing contemporary political issues in a nation at a stressful time currently at war with a ubiquitous enemy. Secondly, the fissures in Lester and Minerva’s marriage is echoed in the greater political upheaval around them.
Malkasian creates a densely textured social context, masterfully conveying the idiosyncratic physical domain with its spiraling structures and quasi-medieval architecture along with intimate yet plastic portraits of her characters in a rich, tonal pencil line. Temperance is a galvanizing work of empathy and violence by one of today’s most thoughtful and accomplished cartoonists.
2008 Eisner Award Winner: Russ Manning Most Promising Newcomer Award — Cathy Malkasian