Whether you choose to call them “comics lit,” “graphic novels,” or just “thick comic books,” book-length narratives told in words and pictures confidently elbowed their way into the cultural spotlight in the first decade of this new millennium — beginning with the simultaneous 2001 release of Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth and Daniel Clowes’ David Boring, and continuing on through ground-breaking and best-selling works such as Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, Robert Crumb’s Genesis, Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, and Joe Sacco’s Palestine.
This renaissance in turn brought forth a chorus of critical commentary that not only addressed these recent works, but also initiated a much-needed look back at the previous century’s neglected and forgotten masterpieces.
This chorus, as presented in The Best American Comics Criticism, comprises both criticism (Douglas Wolk on Frank Miller and Will Eisner, Robert C. Harvey on Fun Home, Donald Phelps on Steve Ditko and Phoebe Gloeckner) and history (David Hajdu on the 1950s comic-book burnings, Jeet Heer on Gasoline Alley, Ben Schwartz on Little Orphan Annie, Gerard Jones on the birth of the comic-book business), as well as revelatory peer-on-peer essays by novelists (Jonathan Franzen on Peanuts, John Updike on James Thurber) and cartoonists (Chris Ware on Rodolphe Töpffer, Clowes on Mad’s Will Elder, and Seth on John Stanley).
Add in still more voices (The Daily Show’s John Hodgman on Jack Kirby, Sarah Boxer on Krazy Kat, Ken Parille with a meticulous deconstruction of Clowes’s David Boring), and a selection of revelatory interviews with comics masters (Kim Deitch, Yoshihiro Tatsumi, Marjane Satrapi, Will Elder, Chester Brown) and cartoonist tête-à-têtes (Eisner/Miller, Jonatham Lethem/Clowes, Dan Nadel/Sammy Harkham), and The Best American Comics Criticism offers a riveting and comprehensive look at a medium finally come into its own—not just creatively, but in terms of the respect and prominence within American culture it has so long deserved.
The Best American Comics Criticism is edited by Ben Schwartz, a contributor to The New York Times, The Washington Post, Salon, The Atlantic On-Line, and Bookforum.
See the full Table of Contents and read Ben Schwartz's Introduction in this EXCLUSIVE 15-page PDF download (193 KB).
We forgot to mention, the new second printing of The Wolverton Bible is currently in stock and features an updated color scheme for the cover — what was shades of green on the sold-out first printing is now various rust colors as seen above. Purty! We're still offering a free set of Wolvertoons Postcards with all direct orders, so get yours today!
Monte Beauchamp's annual darling of the graphic design and illustration world is a spectacular collection of cutting-edge comics, illustration, and graphic design. Blab!'s list of contributors past and present reads like a Who's Who of the contemporary visual art world. We're pleased to present the following seven volumes together for one low price: $12 per volume — around 40% off the combined cover prices.
Below is a brief description of the contents of each included volume; click the cover thumbnails for more information about each volume.
Vol. 11: Mark Ryden's spectacular cover is the gateway to this issue's visual feast, starring Spain, Richard Sala, Doug Allen, Stephane Blanquet, Peter Kuper, Drew Friedman, Lloyd Dangle, the first part of the Jonathon Rosen sketchbook, and much more!
Vol. 12: Blanquet, Walter Minus, Peter Kuper, Peter Hoey, Spain, Doug Allen, Matti Hagleberg, Greg Clarke, Drew Friedman, Baseman, DEVO's Mark Mothersbaugh, vintage French nudie photos, Krampus cards, plus covers and a story by the Clayton Brothers!
Vol. 13: Peter and Maria Hoey, the Clayton Bros., Sue Coe, Peter Kuper, Drew Friedman, Marc Rosenthal, Spain, Laura Levine, Baseman, Walter Minus, Blanquet, David Goldin, Christian Northeast, Johnson & Smith novelty ads, and a cover by George Eisner!
Vol. 15: Covers by Pop Art virtuoso Lou Brooks, Christian Northeast, Sue Coe on the so-called bird flu, Matti Hagelberg's undead President of Finland, Jeffrey Steele on the Black Dahlia, Peter Kuper's Little Nemo-inspired fantasy, Baseman, and Kilroy.
Vol. 16: Geoffrey Grahn, Laura Levine, Peter and Maria Hoey, Sue Coe, Judith Brody, Sergio Ruzzier, Mats!, Spain, Peter Kuper, Marc Rosenthal, Gary Baseman, The Clayton Brothers, Bob Staake and more. Covers by Tim Biskup.
Vol. 17 Cover by Jonathon Rosen, Shag!, Bazooka Joe, Sue Coe, Greg Clarke, Drew Friedman, Peter Kuper, Mark Landman, Max Vesta, Lou Brooks, Peter and Maria Hoey, Tim Biskup, Gary Baseman, Fred Stonehouse, Marc Rosenthal, Spain, Mats!, and Sergio Ruzzier.
Vol. 18: Paco Alcazar, Ryan Heshka, Skip Williamson, Steven Guarnaccia, Xavier & Helge, Mark Frauenfelder; newbies Travis Louie, Nora Krug, Travis Lampe, Mark Zingarelli, Richard Bears, Randall Enos; regulars Baseman, Biskup, Coe, Kuper, Shag; more!
"Always, always, always worth your consideration." – The Comics Reporter
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.
three 96-page 7.25" x 9.5" full-color softcovers • $40.00 postage paid (see below)
Along with the soon-to-be-released Our Gang Vol. 4 we are pleased to offer the first three volumes of Walt Kelly's rollicking adaptation/continuation of the beloved MGM shorts together for one low price including standard shipping within the U.S. (rush and foreign orders extra); see product description for details and more information.
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!
Six beautifully produced prints depicting the rise and fall of Camelot in lush, detailed illustrations by a master of cartoon classicism. Printed with utmost quality and care on creamy, textured paper and housed in a sturdy folio, this is truly a deluxe collectors item. Out of print and lost in our warehouse for years, now available again at an affordable reduced price. Plate One of each set is signed and numbered by the artist. Originally produced in 1983 in an edition of 1500; these are the final 50 copies.
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).
FREE Desktop Wallpaper Downloads! Just click on the size that matches your monitor resolution and the image will open in a new window; if you're on a PC, right-click the image and select "Set As Background"; if you're on a Mac, control+click and select "Set As Desktop Background." (We don't know what the procedure is for iPhones, but if you have one, you probably do, right?) More wallpapers...
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.
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.