As a recent thank you to Publisher Kim Thompson and editor Kristy Valenti (and more) for moving offices, I hatched up a scheme to paint the library door in our basement. If you haven't visited the Fantagraphics office recently, the lovely 70s shag carpet was ripped up awhile ago leaving the basement aesthetics a bit similar to that of a cattle kill floor. NO LONGER!
Inspired by Guy Peellaert's smashingly neon art in Jodelle, Office Manager Steph Rivers and I pulled out the carbon paper to adapt the drawing to our door. Also called graphite paper and available at art or architecture stores, it is an invaluable tool for mural making or large scale painting projects.
And then we let the Vitamin-C-infused paint hit the door. Now our library door matches the library door in Jodelle! Steph on the left as I sneakily took a photo.
The finished product may have worked too well. Now everyone at the office wants a new door. Maybe a Graham Chaffee one or Johnny Ryan....
Now time to paint all the book spines to match the ones in this library. Mwuhahahaha!
Hey, you're a busy person. We get that. Or maybe you and your sweetie boo said you weren't doing anything but then you found a six pack of that craft brew you love so much or the full Battlestar Galactica series on DVD waiting for you. Well, we've got some cards for you to print out fast at work, while everyone is reading the cards their moms mailed to the office. They aren't going to save you but its better than handing someone a Slim Jim you bent in the shape of a heart while filling up your car at the gas station. Or is it? (Valentine above uses panels from Prison Pit 4 by Johnny Ryan)
So for the next month or so people will tell you all the reasons why you should read The Comics Journal #302. It has the last interview with Maurice Sendak, an amazing How to Draw section with Roy Crane and his ghost artist (it's worth at least one semester of comic book school credit), a tribute to Dylan Williams, an extensive interview with Jacques Tardi, a new Joe Sacco comic, a Percy Crosby examination and so much more. But I'm here to tell you how you could use TCJ 302 to sweat. At 672 pages, this tome is not just a brick of knowledge, it's a heavy-ass brick of knowledge.
While the matte cover could potentially soak up a lot of sweat, wrist bands and occasionally toweling yourself will keep your TCJ 302 fighting fit.
The single arm row is a great workout for your back. Kneeling over a chair or bench, place one knee and hand on it. Hold TCJ 302 in other arm fully extended towards the ground. With your back parallel to the ground, slowly bring the book up to your midsection and then return to the starting position. Remember to keep your back still as you shakily lift up TCJ 302.
Now the triceps are a problem area for most Americans. Standing completely straight, feet planted firmly hip-width apart on the floor, start with your TCJ 302 in your hand extended straight up in the air. Using not gravity or momentum but your own muscles, bend your elbow and slowly bring your forearm behind your head. If you do this move too fast, you might get a papercut on your ear as the pages flip around a bit. Make sure not to move your elbow or upper arm. Then return your arm to the fully extended position. Feel free to place your free hand on your hip or wrap it around your face to cradle your elbow to ensure it doesn't dip down during the rep.
Now, some of you think you can just read TCJ 302 on the bus or in bed without any training or conditioning. Unless you want a repeat of the late 90s-2000s "Harry Pottered Nose" or to generations before that "Unabridged Les Mis" we suggest you read sitting upright until you've conditioned your forearms to proper reading strength. Be alert and well-hydrated while reading.
Now don't think I've forgotten about cardio! Run your usual one mile, three miles, sprints or what have you, but while holding TCJ 302 and imagining Maurice Sendak's mischievous beasts breathing down your neck. For added horror, run while holding the TCJ 302 above your head.
Some of you might be cartoonists yourselves who have a love of history, the craft and critical analysis. Bully for you! This excersize will whip your arm into shape. Strap TCJ 302 onto your drawing arm and work on your 1000 pages of bad comics until the good ones show up (per Dave Sim's advice). Soon you'll be one-arm push upping your way to glorious two-page spreads and switching from nib to brush to tech pen with the greatest of ease.
Just an FYI that we did indeed join another social media outlet for your enjoyment. Find us on Instagram as 'Fantagraphics' for more photos of your favorite books getting made, panels galore and my new favorite game 'count the razor blades found on the office floor.' While we can guarantee no brunch photos — unless someone makes us that Cannibal Fuckface waffle iron we've been wanting, we've got some mangy cats who love to pose with our books. Well anyway, it'll be some no filter fun and we can't wait to see how many of you like our photos from your workplace elevators and bathrooms. Follow Barnaby's advice and double-time it today.
The strongest umbrella in the wind of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review: Paul Constant of The Stranger looks at The Last Vispo: Visual Poetry 1998-2008, edited by Nico Vassilakis and Crag Hill. "As an art book, it demands hours of investigation. . . For those linguistic pioneers looking to find the future of fiction, this could be one of the most informative poetry anthologies to be published in the new millennium."
• Review:NPR's My Guilty Pleasure looks at the Jacques Tardi graphics novels of Adèle Blanc-Sec who is "young writer with the brains of Sherlock Holmes, the body of Angelina Jolie and the stoic fortitude of the Marlboro Man." Rosecrans Baldwin states, "The books are part adventure comic, part hardboiled fiction. They're terrific whodunits that conjure up all the precise atmospheric detail of, say, a Georges Simenon novel, but with twice the plot."
• Review:Blacklung by Chris Wright gets reviewed on Nerds of a Feather. Philippe Duhart says, "Wright’s genius is further evident in his ability to use these aberrant cartoonish characterizations to convey human emotion, particularly terror. Wright’s portrayal of violence is stark and chilling – despite or perhaps because of his singular style. . . Black Lung worked on all counts. Plus, pirates."
• Review (video):Kapow Comics down in Australia reviews Chris Wright's Blacklung. Al states "this is a complicated book with musings on philosophy, literature, mortality and especially, religion has a big focus." Sonya says, "Every single character changes in this story, their journey changes them . . . [Blacklung] prayed on my mind. It lingers with you."
• Review: Glen David Gold looks at Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons edited by Kelly Gerald in the LA Review of Books. In an attempt to see how the bread is made, Gold, "Cartooning was O'Connor's first artistic passion. . . . An article in the local paper and a pile of rejection slips from The New Yorker indicate how serious she was. . . not an early blush of Flannery the fiction writer at work. But I'd still recommend it to the curious. Come at it without expecting same genius, but look at it because it's an extreme close up of biography."
• Review:Publishers Weekly looks at Jack Jackson's Los Tejanos and Lost Causes. "Comics’ current vogue for nonfiction was pioneered in these two works from the late underground comix founding father Jackson, who died in 2006. Jackson brought an R. Crumb–style crosshatching and love of facial grotesquery to these two densely researched historical graphic novels."
• Plug:Publishers Weekly and Ada Price show a sneak peak of The Heart of Thomas by Moto Hagio. Enjoy 14 pages of pure genius but don't forget to read each one right to left! We're talking manga here.
• Review: Rob Clough of The Comics Journal enjoys The Hypo by Noah Van Sciver."he’s made a fairly significant leap as both a draftsman and a storyteller in a relatively short period of time . . . Van Sciver’s greatest achievement in this book is his storytelling restraint. He lets his cross-hatching gets across the grime . . He wants to show the reader a different side of the Lincoln we grew up reading about in the history books, but also wants the reader to connect this younger man to the future president."
• Review:Fantasy Literature takes a peek at Castle Waiting Vol. 1 by Linda Medley and Ruth Arnell is in love. "the charming ink illustrations have a piquant charming quality that match the story wonderfully. . . Linda Medley has written a gentle feminist fairy tale comic book that truly deserves to have a wider audience."
• Review: Sonia Harris of Comics Book Resources reads Black Hole by Charles Burns all in one sitting, one evening. "Reading Black Hole all at once in a nice, tidy bundle, it is impossible to experience what Black Hole was for all those years while it was slowly seeping out, issue by issue. . . it is visceral poetry, a true expression of the medium with imagery and words working together to create the most intimate impact. Black Hole is beautiful and terrible, it is a treasure."
Cathy Malkasian thinks we're dirty. What else can we expect when she sends us a box of beautifully-crafted soap? We're working so hard on publishing books; its a sweaty business. To be fair, she sent the box to Eric Reynolds but he is nice and clean enough to share with the rest of us. Each soap is a charcter from Malkasian's 2007 hit, Percy Gloom. Look at those perfectly molded soaps, Percy even has his cute hat on!
Malkasian's next graphic novel is due out in April entitled Wake Up Percy Gloom! S0 get soapy and squeaky clean for the next book. You'll have to pardon me for ending this FLOG! post early, I've got a sudsy, frothy Percy soap face to stick into my sweaty under-arms.
Waffle days are BACK at Fantagraphics thanks to a hearty group of staffers: Stephanie, Jacq, Kristy, Steph O. and Jen. The waffles proceeded, of course, a staff meeting because we like our sweet AND sour here.
Featuring delicious chicken and some heart-shaped vegan waffles, we chowed down with the regular condiments too like Nutella, peanut butter, fruit, whipped cream and good ol' Vermont maple syrup. Ian nibbles in anticipation of that perfect golden brown waffle.
Emory and Tony talk turkey (bacon).
Grillmasters Jen and Jacq.
Interns were not locked in the basement as per our usual when free food is around so they frolicked wielding doughy forks and wearing happy grins. WAFFLES ARE BACK.
(Beautiful waffle pic by Steph Haynes. There is no grunge appropriate Instagram filter, yet.)
Gary Groth shares a recent personal accomplishment:
I made this shot at about 40 yards, so not exactly Olympics-level marksmanship. Still, I was pretty elated. My Errol Flynn moment.
Now, you might say that it was pure luck or happenstance, like making a hole in one -the law of averages insists that if I shoot enough, I'm eventually going to nail it- and I wouldn't argue. But I would say, in my favor, which is that if the grouping weren't as tight as it was, and it was mighty tight lemme tell you, it would've been less likely to occur. So, here's to a very tight grouping. You may congratulate me on my Facebook page, thank you very much.