Flannery O’Connor was among the greatest American writers of the 2nd half of the 20th century; she was a writer in the Southern tradition of Eudora Welty, William Faulkner, and Carson McCullers, who wrote such classic novels and short stories as Wise Blood, The Violent Bear It Away, and “A Good Man is Hard to Find.” She is perhaps as well known for her tantalizing brand of Southern Gothic humor as she is for her Catholicism. That these tendencies should be so happily married in her fiction is no longer a surprise. The real surprise is learning that this much beloved icon of American literature did not set out to be a fiction writer, but a cartoonist. This seems to be the last well-kept secret of her creative life.
Flannery O’Connor: The Cartoons, the first book devoted to the author’s work in the visual arts, emphasizes O’Connor’s most prolific period as a cartoonist, drawing for her high school and college publications in the early 1940s.
While many of these images lampoon student life and the impact of World War II on the home front, something much more is happening. Her cartoons are a creative threshing floor for experimenting and trying out techniques that are deployed later with such great success in her fiction.
O’Connor learns how to set up and carry a joke visually, how to write a good one-liner and set it off against a background of complex visual narration. She develops and asserts her taste for a stock set of character types, attitudes, situations, exaggerations, and grotesques, and she learns how to present them not to distort the truth, but to expose her vision of it.
She worked in both pen & ink and linoleum cuts, and her rough-hewn technique combined with her acidic observations to form a visual precursor to her prose. Fantagraphics is honored to bring the early cartoons of this American literary treasure to a 21st century readership.
For an audience resistant to your views, O’Connor once wrote, “draw large and startling figures.” In her fiction, as in her cartoons, these shocks to the system never come without a laugh.
Many years ago, Jacques Tardi was introduced to American audiences with “Manhattan,” a grim and grimy story of depression, madness and suicide in New York City whose appearance in the premiere issue of RAW magazine was instrumental in defining both that magazine’s virtuoso aesthetic and its dark sensibility. Three decades later, New York Mon Amour collects “Manhattan” and three other tales of the Big Apple — rendered by Tardi with just as much panache and you-are-there detail as Paris or the trenches of World War I in his other books — in one spectacular volume.
Aside from “Manhattan,” the centerpiece of the book is the graphic novel “Cockroach Killer,” written by Benjamin Legrand. This violent, surreal conspiracy thriller, starring a hapless exterminator named Walter, features a striking two-color black-and-red technique unique in Tardi’s oeuvre, and remains one of the cartoonist’s most startling, confounding works. New York Mon Amour is rounded off with two short stories written by Dominique Grange: “It’s So Hard” (starring John Lennon — but not that John Lennon — and never before published in English) and “The Killing of Hung” (a story of revenge and redemption).
New York Mon Amour is a crucial and unique addition to Fantagraphics’ acclaimed Tardi collection.
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Originally serialized in Love and Rockets: New Stories, “Ti-Girls Adventures” managed to be both a rollickingly creative super-hero joyride (featuring three separate super-teams and over two dozen characters) that ranged from the other side of the universe to Maggie’s shabby apartment, and a genuinely dramatic fable about madness, grief, and motherhood as Penny Century’s decades-long quest to become a genuine super-heroine are finally, and tragically, fulfilled.
In addition to introducing a plethora of wild new characters, God and Science brings in many older characters from Jaime’s universe, some from seemingly throwaway shorter strips and some from Maggie’s day-to-day world (including some real surprises). The main heroine of the story, forming a bridge between the “realistic” Maggie stories and the super-heroic extravaganza is “Angel,” Maggie’s sweet-tempered and athletic new roommate and best friend, and now herself an aspiring super-heroine.
Aside from being presented in a large format that really displays Jaime Hernandez’s stunning art, God and Science will be a “director’s cut” version that includes a full 30 new pages in addition to the original 100-page epic, including four new full-color faux Ti-Girls covers, several expansions of scenes, an epilogue set back in Maggie’s apartment, and a long fantasy/timewarp sequence that draws the focus back on Penny’s awful predicament.
In 2011’s Dungeon Quest Book Two, we left our heroes, Millennium Boy, Steve, Lash and Nerdgirl, in the Temple of Bromedes as they began their initiation into the mysteries of Atlantis under the tutelage of the androgynous forest mystic, Bromedes. In this third book, our heroes complete their learning with Bromedes and are guided towards further quests in Rufford Park and beyond, to the Zuur Plateau. However, they are not yet clear of the hazards of Fireburg Forest. Resurfacing to the forest floor (after hitting the strongest weed in the universe, “Orangutan Daydream”), they must survive a perilous cliff path, discover moon shrines, battle wild Womraxes, endure knock-out gas, hypnagogic visions, nakedness and deprivation and, finally, embark on a desperate and courageous mission to rescue Nerdgirl from cruel Forest Bandits and retrieve their stolen equipment.
In this third book, by far the longest installment of the series so far (288 pages!), the reader is also introduced to the history and mysticism of The Romish Book of the Dead, a sexually avant-garde “little forest man” (who becomes the fifth member of the crew), Steve’s newly discovered “battle warping” abilities (which Millennium Boy dismisses as being a mere “kundalini spasm”), weapons and armor upgrades and a whole new level of bizarre comedy, rousing adventure and ass-kicking action — all staged in front of fantastic backdrops replete with strange vegetation, ancient ruins and steampunk imagery.
One of the greatest visual storytellers in the history of comics. That was Mort Meskin, famed Golden Age artist whose name belongs in the first rank of comics storytellers: Will Eisner, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko.
See for yourself why Meskin earned the admiration and respect of his peers (as well as contemporary critics and historians) for his atmospherically charged work, his masterful use of form and composition to convey mood and action, his noirish use of light and shadow to create suspense.
This, the first-ever collection of Meskin’s comics, surveys his work from the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. Here, in just under 200 pages, you’ll discover the artist’s amazing ability to stamp his own fresh visual imprimatur across a wide variety of genres: superheroes (The Black Terror, The Fighting Yank, a never-before published Golden Lad), adventure (the origin of Sheena, Queen of the Jungle), science fiction (Tom Corbett, Space Cadet) — plus horror, kid gangs, crime, Western — even romance!
Rescued from the fading obscurity of old, yellowing comic books, this deluxe volume meticulously reproduces his work from the best available sources. At last, Mort Meskin steps into the spotlight and — OUT OF THE SHADOWS!
Praise for Mort Meskin:
“Deserves to be treasured by all comics fans and studied by all artists of the medium” – Rich Clabaugh, Christian Science Monitor
• Preview/Interview: At Print Magazine, Michael Dooley presents a bunch of pages of The Sincerest Form of Parody: The Best 1950s Mad-Inspired Satirical Comics and has a quick Q&A with editor John Benson: "When Isaac Asimov edited his massive Before the Golden Age anthology of 1930s science fiction... he relied entirely on his memories of reading the stories when they first appeared, and that's how he made his selections. Similarly, Jules Feiffer largely relied on his memories of the stories from his original reading when making selections for his seminal The Great Comic Book Heroes in 1965. Like the Asimov and Feiffer books, The Sincerest Form of Parody is partly an exercise in nostalgia, so in making my selections, I think it's fair to give some consideration to my reaction to the material when I first saw it."
• Review: "...Fantagraphics recently unlocked whatever crate must have been used to house Mr. Twee Deedle: Raggedy Ann's Sprightly Cousin: The Forgotten Fantasy Masterpieces of Johnny Gruelle. Over a foot long and over a foot-and-a-half tall, the hardcover features the most beautiful endpapers in recent memory. Gruelle’s artwork is full of whimsy, presented in both the richest nostalgic color and black and white. The narrative involves two children on a journey through a magical land as guided by a wood sprite, but this is truthfully an art book. It’s meant to be read sprawled out on the floor, the only surface in an average reader’s home that is likely large enough to properly balance this fine luxury. Rick Marschall provides a lengthy, informative essay that is lavishly accompanied by further illustrations." – Alex Carr, Omnivoracious
• Review: "In an age of indie-comics dependent upon the banality of the everyday, a hesitant realism, Rickheit eschews reality in favor of the impossible, a state of existence that is truly fantastical. But this is not a utopia, this is a world entirely of the body, though not only the body of human beings, but the body of all living meat, of anything that breathes and shits. This is a world of pure imagination, of subconscious desires let loose with an acutely detailed drawing style. And ultimately, [Folly]’s a perfect work for those who refuse to float away from their bodies but are ready to let their heads go where-ever one can find the new." – Invisible Mike, HTMLGIANT
• Tweet of the Day: "I just read The Furry Trap by Josh Simmons; I'll be on the Internet the rest of the day looking for instructions on how to boil my eyes." – Tom Spurgeon (@comicsreporter)
Fully half of this latest volume of Hal Foster’s epic masterpiece — again scanned from superb syndicate proofs — is devoted to the remaining chapters of “The Winning of Aleta,” a 20-month (!) epic in which Valiant obsessively pursues his bride to be. Not surprisingly this is followed by a sequence called “Matrimony,” which ends with a newly wed queen adjusting to the luxurious, exciting court life at Camelot.
But Val’s marriage does not signal an end to his adventures, quite the contrary. In “War in the Forest” Val is sent out to spy on encroaching Saxons — unknowingly aided by Aleta, who, disguised as a small knight (and dubbed “Sir Puny”) helps prevent disaster. But the 1946 strips end with Val and Aleta unable to return to Camelot and the displaced couple journeying to Thule…
Half the strips in this volume also include the delightful “The Medieval Castle,” Foster’s chronicle of two young boys growing up during the time of the First Crusade — but by the end of the 1945 strips this series has ended and the Valiant portion resume its full-page glory.
This volume also features a Foreword by P. Craig Russell, a gallery of Hal Foster's commercial illustration work and an essay titled "Aleta: Water Nymph of the Misty Isles" by Brian M. Kane.
With stunning art reproduced directly from pristine printer’s proofs, Fantagraphics has introduced a new generation to Foster’s masterpiece, while providing long-time fans with the ultimate, definitive version of the strip.
Read editor Kim Thompson's Afterword from Vol. 1, detailing the production and restoration of these new editions, right here on our website.
From our Marschall Books imprint comes this magnificent collection of Mr. Twee Deedle, Johnny Gruelle’s masterpiece, unjustly forgotten by history and never before reprinted since its first appearance in America’s newspapers from 1911 to 1914.
The title character in the Sunday color page, Mr. Twee Deedle, is a magical wood sprite who befriends the strip’s two human children, Dickie and Dolly. Gruelle depicted a charming, fantastical child’s world, filled with light whimsy and outlandish surrealism. The artwork is among the most stunning ever to grace an American newspaper page, and Gruelle’s painterly color makes every page look like it was created on a canvas.
Gruelle’s creation was the winning entry out of 1500 submissions to succeed Little Nemo, which the New York Herald was losing at the time to the rival Hearst papers. With such import, the Herald added a $2000 prize, a long contract, and arguably the most care devoted to the reproduction of any color newspaper comic strip before or since.
Yet the wood sprite and his fanciful world have been strangely overlooked, partly because Gruelle created Raggedy Ann immediately after the strip’s run, eclipsing not only Mr. Twee Deedle but almost everything else the cartoonist ever did.
Mr. Twee Deedle stands as a bizarre time-warp: at a time when most children's literature and kids' comic strips were somewhat violent or starkly moralistic (the Brothers Grimm; The Katzenjammer Kids; and even Little Nemo itself, which often depicted nightmares, fears, and dangers), Twee Deedle was sensitive and whimsical. Instead of stark moralizing, it presented gentle lessons. It reads today like a work for the 21st century… indeed for all times, all ages.
Mr. Twee Deedle is edited and includes an introduction by comics historian Rick Marschall. The volume presents the first year of the forgotten masterpiece and selected episodes from later years, as well as special drawings, promotional material, and related artwork.
This book spotlights over 100 comic strips, comic books, and graphic novels to feature black characters from all over the world over the last century, and the result is a fascinating journey to, if not enlightenment, then at least away from the horrendous caricatures of yore.
The book begins with the habitually appalling images of blacks as ignorant “coons” in the earliest syndicated strips (Happy Hooligan, Moon Mullins, and The Katzenjammer Kids); continues with the almost-quaint colonialist images of the often-suppressed Tintin album Tintin in the Congo and such ambiguous figures as Mandrake the Magician’s “noble savage” assistant Lothar in the ’30s (not to mention Torchy Brown, the first syndicated black character), moving on to such oddities as the offensive Ebony character in Will Eisner’s otherwise classic The Spirit from the ’40s and ’50s.
We then continue into the often earnest attempts at ’60s integration in such strips as Peanuts (and comic books such as the Fantastic Four), as well as the first wave of “black strips” like Wee Pals, juxtaposed with the shocking satire of underground comics such as R. Crumb’s incendiary Angefood McSpade. Also investigated is the increased use of blacks in super-hero comic books as well as syndicated strips. Black Images in the Comics wraps up from the ’80s to now, with the increased visibility of blacks, often in works actually produced by blacks, all the way to the South African strip Madam & Eve, Aaron McGruder’s pointed daily The Boondocks, and more — including over a dozen new entries added to the out-of-print hardcover edition.
Each strip, comic, or graphic novel is spotlighted via a compact but instructive 200-word essay and a representative illustration. The book is augmented by a context-setting introduction, an extensive source list and bibliography, and a foreword by Charles R. Johnson, the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation fellowship and winner of the National Book Award for his 1990 novel Middle Passage.
Stephen Dixon is one of the most acclaimed authors of short stories in the history of American letters. His work, characterized by mordant humor and a frank attention to human sexuality, has earned him a Guggenheim Fellowship, the American Academy Institute of Arts and Letters Prize for Fiction, the O. Henry Award, and the Pushcart Prize. Fantagraphics Books is proud to re-present his 2010 hardcover collection of short stories, What Is All This?, in paperback form.
Dixon’s finely chiseled sentences cut to the quick of people’s lives. None of these stories have been collected in any book; they have appeared in a wide variety of literary journals over almost 40 years and Dixon has entirely rewritten all of them. Dixon admirers will be cheered to learn that these stories comprise a wholly original work.
Centrally concerning himself with the American condition, Dixon explores in What Is All This? obsessions of body image, the increasingly polarized political landscape, sex — in all its incarnations — and the gloriously pointless minutiae of modern life, from bus rides to tying shoelaces. Using the canvas of his native New York he astutely captures the edgy madness that infects the city through the neuroses of his narrators with a style that owes as much to Neo-Realist cinema as it does to modern literature. What Is All This? is designed by Fantagraphics’ award-winning Art Director Jacob Covey, whose hardcover design was honored as one the industry’s 50 best books/covers of the year by AIGA.
Stephen Dixon was born in 1936 in New York City. He graduated from the City College of New York in 1958 and is a former faculty member of Johns Hopkins University. He is also a two time National Book Award nominee — for his novels Frog and Interstate. He still hammers out his fiction on a vintage typewriter.