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
In the rarefied realm of classic cartoon pin-up art, nobody did it better than Jack Cole. With his quirky line drawings and sensual watercolors, Cole, under Hugh Hefner's guiding hand, catapulted to stardom in the 1950s as Playboy's marquee cartoonist, a position he held until his untimely death at the age of 43.
Jack Cole has been justly celebrated as the creator of Plastic Man and an innovative comic book artist of the 1940s (especially in Art Spiegelman and Chip Kidd’s Jack Cole and Plastic Man: Forms Stretched to Their Limits). After finishing his 14-year run on Plastic Man, he found himself looking for something new. According to Cole, his savior was the Humorama line of down-market digest magazines. This girls and gags magazine circuit proved to be the perfect training ground to regain his footing and develop his craft at single panel “gag” cartoons. His ability to render the female form was already without peer. Though he signed his cartoons “Jake,” Cole’s exquisite line drawings and masterful use of ink-wash — a skill he carried over to Playboy — betrayed his pseudonym. In comparison to his contemporaries, however, Cole was probably Humorama’s least prolific artist. Though his images were frequently used for covers, Cole’s cartoons were few and far between, with scarcely a single drawing appearing every five issues.
Along with a foreword by editor Alex Chun, this volume (originally released in a now out-of-print hardcover edition that now fetches high prices on the secondhand market) collects the best of these hidden gems, including several shot from Cole’s stunning original art. Most of these drawings have not seen print elsewhere since their original publication.
"Cole's goddesses were estrogen soufflés who mesmerized the ineffectual saps who lusted after them." – Art Spiegelman
"Jack Cole was a masterful comic book artist who helped define the golden age of his art form." – Village Voice
Picking up right after Perla La Loca, the third volume of the definitive “Maggie” series repackaging, this compilation of stories from Jaime Hernandez’s solo comic Penny Century and his subsequent return to Love and Rockets (Volume II) charts the further lives of his beloved “Locas.”
But first... wrestling! Penny Century starts off with a blast with “Whoa, Nellie!,” a unique graphic novelette in which Maggie, who has settled in with her pro-wrestler aunt for a while, experiences that wild and woolly world first-hand.
Then it’s back to chills and spills with the old cast of Hopey, Ray Dominguez, and Izzy Ortiz — including Maggie’s romantic dream fantasia “The Race” and the definitive Ray story, “Everybody Loves Me, Baby.”
Penny Century also features two major “flashback” stories: “Bay of Threes” finally reveals the full back story behind Beatriz “Penny Century” Garcia, Maggie’s long-time, bleached-blonde bombshell friend (who gives this volume its name and can be seen as a super-villainess in the first two issues of Love and Rockets: New Stories), while “Home School” is one of Hernandez’s popular looks at his characters’ lives from when they were little kids, drawn in an adorable simplified Dennis the Menace type style. This volume also includes the Maggie & Hopey Color Fun one-shot, reproduced here in glorious black and white.
While supplies last this book is available with a signed bookplate (pictured below) as a FREE premium!
“Five six. Hundred twenty-eight pounds. Forty-three twenty-two thirty-six. High soft lisp. Genius level I.Q.” That’s how motivational speaker Mark Herrera sums up Rosalba “Fritz” Martinez, bombshell, former punkette, former psychiatrist, “Z” movie star — in this supremely sexy, constantly surprising graphic novel.
And Herrera should know, being only one of many to fall under Fritz’s “lithping” spell — others including slobbish rocker Scott “The Hog” and high school nerd turned obsessive bodybuilder Enrique Escobar (and that’s just her husbands).
Hernandez has taken this suite of stories (including the 48-page graphic novelette “High Soft Lisp”), originally serialized in Luba's Comics and Stories and the second volume of Love and Rockets, and fleshed them out with a dozen brand new pages, creating an original and inventive (and very steamy) volume that, through its connections to his main character Luba (Fritz is Luba’s half sister, and characters from the Luba stories pop up here), works both as a standalone graphic novel and a further exploration of Hernandez’s rich world.
Good grief, Charlie Brown, we're halfway there! That’s right! With this volume, The Complete Peanuts reaches the halfway point of Charles M. Schulz’s astounding half-century run on the greatest comic strip of all time.
These years are especially fecund in terms of new canine characters, as Snoopy is joined by his wandering brother Spike (from Needles), his beloved sister Belle (from Kansas City), and... did you know he had a nephew? In other beagle news, Snoopy breaks his foot and spends six weeks in a cast, deals with his friend Woodstock’s case of the “the vapors,” and gets involved in a heated love triangle with Linus over the girl “Truffles.”
The Complete Peanuts 1975-1976 features several other long stories, including a rare “double track” sequence with two parallel narratives: Peppermint Patty and Snoopy travel to participate in the Powderpuff Derby, while Charlie Brown finally gets to meet his idol Joe Shlabotnik. And Peppermint Patty switches to a private school, but commits the mistake of allowing Snoopy to pick it for her; only after graduation does she realize something’s not quite right!
Plus: A burglary at Peppermint Patty’s house is exacerbated by waterbed problems... Marcie acquires an unwanted suitor... Charlie Brown and Peppermint Patty become desk partners... The talking school building collapses... Lots of tennis jokes... and gags starring Schroeder, Lucy, Franklin, Rerun, Sally, and that vicious cat next door. It’s another two years of Peanuts at its finest! Featuring an introduction by comedian Robert Smigel (Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, Saturday Night Live).
"The Complete Peanuts has framed Charles Schulz’s enduring masterpiece about as well any lifelong fan could’ve hoped." – "The Best Comics of the '00s: The Archives", The A.V. Club
Download an EXCLUSIVE 14-page PDF excerpt (1 MB) containing all the strips from January, 1975!
Sand & Fury is a story of blood, of sex, of death — of sound and retribution. It opens as a girl by the side of a desert road accepts a ride from a stranger. How could she know that behind that wheel sits the angel of death?
Of course, even the angel of death once had a life. During that life, death was a successful business woman, with a great career and an even greater future. It’s true she could be a little cavalier with her innate gifts; she had, after all, broken the heart of everyone who had ever loved her.
And then, one day, the monster entered the woman’s life and changed everything forever.
Inspired by the work of filmmakers like David Lynch and Dario Argento and cartoonists like Richard Sala and Charles Burns, a spiritual cousin to Roman Polanski’s Repulsion and The Tenant, Sand & Fury is at once an homage to those classic horror sources and a contemporary romantic thriller, drawn in a stark, chiseled, expressionistic line that evokes modern attitudes and classic terror at the unknown and unknowable.
Download an EXCLUSIVE PDF excerpt containing the first 10 pages of the story (1.9 MB).
"In Sand & Fury, Ho Che Anderson has done what I would have previously regarded as impossible. He’s found the illegitimate child of Faulkner and Lovecraft buried alive in a paranoiac’s terrified vision of the desert of the American Southwest... in a grave uncovered by the shriek of his own degenerate perversion of a banshee, for fuck’s sake." – Howard Chaykin
"Anderson’s blocky figures and Expressionistic use of caricature are augmented by processed period photography, an approach that calls to mind the minimalist abstractions of Frank Miller. The characters are frequently depicted in high-contrast shadow, wherein features become flattened and skin colour is often difficult to determine. The resulting aesthetic is striking and symbolic." — The Guardian
Set in a suburb that is both nowhere and everywhere, King of the Flies is a glorious bastard, combining the intricacy and subtlety of the best European graphic novels with a hyperdetailed, controlled noir style derived from the finest American cartoonists.
Mezzo and Pirus, previously best known in Europe for a series of cynical, brutal gangster stories, have abandoned their guns and gals for this cycle of suburban stories, but in King of the Flies the violence has just (for the most part) been interiorized.
King of the Flies first appears to be a series of unrelated short stories, each starring (and narrated by) a different protagonist, but it soon becomes obvious that these seemingly disparate episodes weave together to form a single complex narrative, with events that are only glimpsed (or even referred to) revisited from different perspectives — revolving around Eric, a ne’er-do-well, drug-taking teenager at war with his stepfather and, apparently, the whole world. (He is the titular King.)
King of the Flies is designed as a trilogy of albums, which will combine to form a single graphic novel of stunning intricacy and intensity. (Vol. 2, “The Origin of the World,” will be released by Fantagraphics in Fall/Winter 2010.)
Download an EXCLUSIVE 7-page PDF excerpt containing the entire first chapter (3.1 MB).
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!