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.
The Emerald City Pinball Party at Shorty's on Saturday was a blast! Celebrity guests galore and great fun for everyone. We held a pinball competition for awesome prizes from hostJim Woodring, including a backglass from the Frank pinball machine currently in development. In an effort to level the playing field - (so to speak) - the lowest scores determined the winners! Worst prize went to cartoonist Anthony Leano.
Here's Jim with artist Camille Rose Garcia, who stopped by following a fabulous signing at neighboring Roq la Rue gallery. While chatting with Fantagraphics associate publisher Eric Reynolds, they discovered that they grew up a few blocks from each other in Huntington Beach and graduated a year apart from the same high school!
Fantagraphics office manager Stephanie Hayes, cartoonist Kelly Froh, and ace publicist Jacq Cohen add some glamour to the bash.
The great Shannon Wheeler dropped in for libations and a game of pinball. (He was far too good to win any prizes.)
What could be more festive than a cake decorated with the cover of The Comics Journal #301 (featuring artwork from Robert Crumb's Genesis)? This gorgeous edible monstrosity was procured by TCJ's Matt Silvie for the Thanksgiving festivities chez Groth. Photos by Jacq Cohen.
Ah yes, I remember that. 1976 or 1977. My family had just moved from Munich, Germany to Montpellier, France, and my Mother, my brother, and I were cooling our heels in our usual summer vacation spot of Copenhagen, Denmark while my Father was setting up our new Montpellier digs. (That would be the same Montpellier that currently serves as home base for Lewis Trondheim and Jason.) WIth ample time on his hands, my Father, who was (and is) an avid photographer, had just discovered the age-old trick of photographing someone multiple times in front of a black backdrop to create the illusion of multiple iterations of the same person (no, kids, there was no Photoshop then), and had sent us some hilarious fumetti of himself in various goofy disguises interacting with himself.
Around the same time, future Marvel Editor-in-Chief Mark Gruenwald (whom I knew well through correspondence) — at the time still a fan, of course — had self-published his TREATISE ON REALITY, one of the central tenets of which was that the Marvel and DC universes contained an infinite amount of "realities" each of which was created by an individual human decision (a kind of sci-fi version of chaos theory in which the butterfly does AND doesn't flap its wings). So in one reality Peter Parker decided not to go to that science exhibit and didn't get bitten by that spider, or Bruce Wayne's parents didn't duck down that dark alleyway, etc. Those reality-creating "decision points" he dubbed "nexuses" (or "nexi"?). Somehow in my geeky mind this combined with the technique my father had been playing around with and the whole family got together (note my Mother's credit for "flying cucumber" effect) and created this illustration of what would happen if, as I was reading Mark's treatise, I found myself having to decide among continuing to read it, going for a snack, or going to bed (the trifecta of choices pretty much anyone faces when reading late at night).
Everyone got a kick out of it (including Dean Mullaney, who was very much the "nexus" of that group) and I've been lugging around that set of Xeroxes for three and a half decades — until some wisenheimer in the Fantagraphics offices found it in a box and slapped it up on Flog.
Tom Spurgeon's recollection on his comicsreporter.com blog that this ties into a group of round-robin fan correspondents that included Rob Rodi and Jo Duffy (also Ralph Macchio — the future Marvel editor, not the Karate Kid star) is on the nose.
I don't even want to think about how many of this blog's readers weren't even born when I did this.
Rest in peace Mark Gruenwald, a good guy who died far too young. Hopefully there are thousands of other alternate realities where he's still happily editing Marvel comics.
If you work at Fantagraphics long enough, you will invariably learn to marvel at the way that our fearless co-leader, Kim Thompson , has his hand in virtually everything that happens here. His ability to multitask is a source of endless conversation and awe. He juggles projects as easily as he does multiple languages. How does he do it? Well, thanks to this recent discovery in our archives, we now know the answer, and it turns out he owes it all to former Marvel Comics Editor Mark Gruenwald :