Starting to catch up on Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "The frighteningly hilarious world of Rickheit’s graphic novel is a deranged cabinet of curiosities, full of biomechanical tanks, writhing organic matter, amorphous monsters birthing adorable kittens, men and women in animal masks, and countless tubes, gas masks, sex toys, and pseudo-Victorian apocalyptic landscapes. It would all be too oppressive if Rickheit’s sense of humor weren’t so addictive.... This juxtaposition of dry humor undercuts the richly drawn horror of Folly, simultaneously adding to its strangeness and making it bearable for a casual read... The result is a narrative mosaic that pairs sumptuous, horrific imagery against a strange but lighthearted sense of humor." – Publishers Weekly
• Review:Walter Wehus looks at Kolor Klimax; key quote as translated by Kolor Klimax editor Matthias Wivel: "the common aspect is quality"
• Review: "While exploring this collection, I found myself enjoying the various challenges it presented. It did dare me to eschew my 'western' values of linear, results oriented thinking and simply give way to my intuitive understanding of the art before me. I can’t honestly say I 'get' every comic contained withing this anthology [Abstract Comics]... nor can I truly say I learned something about the medium that I didn’t already know. But to see comics stripped of their representational elements does amplify certain things that are so unique about the medium and probably reveals its potential even more fully. These are comics to be experienced." – Jason Newcomb, StashMyComics
• Preview:The Beat's Jessica Lee presents a 6-page preview of Nicolas Mahler's Angelman, saying "If you’ve noticed yourself to be a comic enthusiast who has become more and more disillusioned with the corporate transformation of super-hero comics, Angelman could well be the fresh breath of illustrated air you’ve been yearning for. What could easily be one of the most comedic releases thus far this year, Fantagraphics is releasing (in hardcover no less!) a new graphic commentary of the often-times outrageous and unbelievable trends in the comic industry."
• Profile:The Wall Street Journal's Ralph Gardner Jr. on the work and career of Drew Friedman: "Mr. Friedman's genius is that, on some level, his work is never utterly absent affection, or his subjects black and white, even when they're literally drawn in black and white. It might be a stretch to say that the artist captures their underlying humanity. What he does provide is a picture window onto their troubled psyches so that they and their moral afflictions, whatever they are, must be taken seriously."
• Interview: I don't think we've previously linked to Ted Widmer's career-spanning interview with Robert Crumb from the Summer 2010 issue of The Paris Review: "I was so eccentric when I was seventeen, eighteen, I used to walk around town wearing an Abe Lincoln frock coat and a stovepipe hat that I’d found in some junk store, defying people to ridicule me or think me eccentric. I was a teenage social outcast. At the time it made me feel very depressed, and rejected by girls. Later I realized I was actually quite lucky because it freed me. I was free to develop and explore on my own all these byways of the culture that, if you’re accepted, you just don’t do. I was free to explore the things that interested me."
• Interview (Audio): The Daniel Clowes victory lap continues with an appearance Monday on NPR's Morning Edition: "Clowes never aimed to be the kind of artist museums collect. But now, the walls of the Oakland Museum of California are covered with his drawings. It's 'quite embarrassing,' he laughs. After a stint as an art student at Brooklyn's Pratt Institute in the 1970s, Clowes tried unsuccessfully to get work as an illustrator. Sitting around drawing comics on his own, he decided to send a strip to underground publisher Fantagraphics. He was expecting rejection. Instead, 'they called me up and offered me a monthly comic book, and I felt like I hadn't earned anything,' he says. 'You know, it's like all of a sudden, you're being made president after you've been like, you know, on the city council in Cleveland.'" KQED also posts a couple of outtakes from the interview
• Interview: At The Comics Journal, Nicole Rudick talks with Diane Noomin about her new collection of DiDi Glitz stories, Glitz-2-Go: "In 1974, I did a full-fledged DiDi story for Wimmen’s Comix. It was four pages and was called “She Chose Crime”, and when I was putting this book together I realized that DiDi came out almost fully developed. She hasn’t changed, she hasn’t grown or anything like that. If I look at that first story, the drawing has changed and I’d like to think that certain things have gotten better, but in that story, DiDi’s persona is it. I don’t think I’d realized that."
This summer's release of Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons is fast approaching, and The Paris Review teases the book with a selection of artwork and an excerpt of editor Kelly Gerald's Afterword, "The Habit of Art," about how O'Connor's experience with drawing and its emphasis on visual observation informed her writing.
And look, your first glimpse of the physical book!
Five years before his breakthrough as the co-creator of Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, and other classic super-heroes for Marvel Comics in the early 1960s, Steve Ditko, inspired by the freedom he found at the laissez-faire Charlton Comics, was turning out some of the best work of his career.
Mysterious Traveler, which collects stories from (among others) Tales of the Mysterious Traveler and This Magazine Is Haunted, reprints over 210 full-color pages of Ditko in his early prime. These are stories that have never been properly reprinted until now — thrilling stories of suspense, mystery, haunted houses, and unsuspecting victims.
A high-rise apartment building in an unnamed European city. Its inhabitants come and go, meet each other, talk, dream, regret, hope... in short, live. A ghostly, shape-shifting anthropomorphic white rabbit roams from apartment to apartment, surveying and keeping track of all this humanity... and at the end of every night, he floats down to the basement where he delivers his report to the "great dark one."
Lushly delineated in penciled halftones, this moody graphic novel was orig- inally serialized in Fantagraphics’ acclaimed "Ignatz" series of upscale saddle-stitched booklets in duotone form, but this complete edition restores the artist’s original striking full-color treatment.
"What makes Gabriella Giandelli's world unique is her brave rejection of the fashionable and the stereotypical. Intimate and poetic, sensitive and enigmatic, Interiorae is her masterpiece." – Lorenzo Mattotti
48-page black & white/color 8.5" x 11" softcover • $9.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-571-6
Ships in: May 2012 (subject to change) – This item will be available to order simultaneous with its release to comic shops.
Five years in the making and meticulously edited by John Benson, Squa Tront returns with a profusion of rare and interesting features from the EC era: the story behind Basil Wolverton’s first EC art; Howard Nostrand’s last interview; art from the unpublished third issue of Flip; Jack Davis’s WWII cartoons; plus EC era art by Wallace Wood, John and Marie Severin, Harvey Kurtzman, and Roy Krenkel. The longest running EC historical magazine and a perfect companion to Fantagraphics’ new series of EC reprints.
Download and read a 6-page PDF excerpt (1.7 MB) including the Table of Contents.
Alas, E.C. Segar, arguably the funniest cartoonist to ever lay ink on paper, died at the age of 44, leaving less that a decade’s worth of strips featuring his immortal creation Popeye — so this sixth volume of Segar’s Popeye is in fact the final one, enabling collectors to add the last “E” to the P-O-P-E-Y-E spelled out on the spines of Fantagraphics’ smashing collection.
This final volume starts off in grand style with “Mystery Melody,” featuring the terrifying return of the shape-shifting Sea Hag. Olive Oyl, Wimpy, Poop- deck Pappy, the Jeep, the newly domesticated Goon, and Toar all appear in this four-month epic, as does Bolo, the latest in Segar’s cast of massive Popeye opponents.
Other stories include the melodramatic “A Sock for Susan’s Sake” (Popeye becomes the protector of a girl who lives on the streets), Popeye’s boxing duel with King Smacko, the return of Thimble Theatre’s original star Castor Oyl as a detective who solves the case of “Plastic Pan,” the Poopdeck Pappy yarn “Wild Oats” (culminating in a six-month prison sentence for the rambunctious oldster), “The Valley of the Goons” (in which Popeye is shocked to discover who the new leader of the Goons is), and the self-explanatory “King Swee’Pea.”
And that’s just the dailies! Popeye Volume 6 also includes 62 splendid full-page full-color Sundays, featuring further adventures of Popeye and an epically surreal six-month interplanetary voyage for Sappo, the star of Popeye’s “top strip.” The supplementary features include two historical articles by Popeye expert Rick Marschall (one on Popeye’s translation to the world of licensing and merchandising, and one on Segar’s place in comics and pop culture history), an illustrated Segar-written biography of Popeye originally serialized in newspapers of the time, and more rare art and photos.
Download and read a 15-page PDF excerpt (27.2 MB) with 10 pages of dailies and 5 pages of Sundays.
Lovers of art comics know Hans Rickheit from his smashing graphic novel The Squirrel Machine (2008), but Rickheit has, for over a decade, been producing his own self-published comics — reaching into the deepest cupboards of the back-mind and culling these strange artifacts. He has been a basement-dweller, gallery troll, and a purveyor of forbidden notions. Originally distributed into the world as Xeroxed pamphlets, these “underground comix” reflect the true nature of its nomenclature: Here are the archeological findings of the subterranean ruins of the psyche. Finally, these scattered elements have been compiled into a compact, lushly illustrated bedside reader. Give your cerebellum a tug and become a spelunker of the subconscious as we trespass among the scorched archaic wastelands of the offspring of apes and fools. Here we find the profane, beautiful progeny of prurient ideals. Immerse yourself in the nocturnal meanderings of unnamed protagonists. Ponder the uncomfortable sexuality of the twins, Cochlea & Eustachia. Recoil at the doings of a dwarfish malefactor in "Hail Jeffrey," or simply stare at the pretty pictures. Suffice to say that readers of The Squirrel Machine will not be disappointed.
The author instructs you not misuse this tome. Poke it gently with a long stick, if you must. Careful, it might ruin the carpet. Placate it with a belly-rub or sweet pastry before it attacks the children. Don’t worry, your tongue won’t stick. If it fits, don’t shove it in too quickly. Keep it as your own cherished object; a shameful, guarded secret. The filter for reality’s blinding glare. Detritus of the Under-Brain. The Unspeakable Thing You Always Knew.
Folly: The Consequences of Indiscretion. By one of the most inscrutable and discomfiting cartoonists alive.
"They were all there, the pimps, the fags, the whores, the curious, the alcoholic, the weird of the late ’50s... blues lovers, Canadian bikers, thrill seekers, junkies, insomniacs, hepcats...” So begins “Down at the Kitty Kat,” one of the 20-plus never-before-collected memoirs and yarns by Spain Rodriguez, one of the original gang of Zap Comix provocateurs.
Although he’s best known for his two-fisted tales of the chopper-riding Trashman, Spain’s blunt graphic style and uncompromising gift for caricature, rendered in eye-punishing slabs of black and white, work equally well for more subtle fare — such as these memoirs of his misspent youth.
Cruisin’ with the Hound ranges from Spain’s days as an innocent young churchgoer to his time as a member of the Road Vultures motorcycle gang, with stops along the way for his discoveries of science fiction and other, more adult pursuits (“The Birth of Porn”) — as well as the “The Education of an Underground Cartoonist,” describing his journey from a pimply Captain Marvel-reading scribbler to his arrival as a professional artist.
But the heart of this collection is a cycle of stories (originally published in the acclaimed Blab! magazine) set during Spain’s teenage days in the 1950s, often featuring the doomed, dot-eyed Fred Tooté, a wild, flaky character in whose company some of his wildest escapades occurred.
Raunchy, hilarious, and often violent as hell, Cruisin’ with the Hound is an unsentimentally nostalgic trip to half a century ago — the anti- Happy Days, set to a true rock ’n’ roll beat.
Finally back in print, Any Similarity... is a collection of Drew Friedman’s earliest comic strips and illustrations, featuring his most obsessively stippled black-and-white panels and his most hilarious wise-guy takes on the stars and demi-stars and never-quite-stars of that swamp we like to call showbiz.
In these strips, many of them written by his brother Josh Alan Friedman (both are sons of the legendary Bruce Jay Friedman: humor genes will tell!), the artist works out his obsession with such celebrities as Jim Nabors, Frank Sinatra Jr., Joe Franklin, Bob Hope, Andy Griffith... and Ed Wood, Jr. film star Tor Johnson, whom Friedman actually catapulted back into some sort of semi-fame when these strips were first published in the 1980s.
Friedman is the kind of pop-culture aficionado whose Three Stooges worship is focused not on Moe, Larry or Curly but on Shemp (whose unmistakable mug graces the new cover of this edition), and whose teasing adoration can often be mistaken for mockery or contempt. But who but a worshipful fan would lavish quite so many dots on the loving delineation of these greats’ every pimple and wrinkle?
“I stand in awe of Drew Friedman’s technique and the certain flavor of sad old America he captures.” – R. Crumb
Our final limited-edition deluxe Krazy hardcover (it's Volume 1, but the third to be published) collects the three Krazy & Ignatz softcover books which comprehensively compile the first nine years (1916 through 1924) of Krazy Kat Sunday strips, under hard covers. It's not a slipcase, it's a single hardcover book. The covers to the original three softcover books are NOT included, but literally everything else is, including nine years' worth of black-and-white masterpieces (and 10 color strips), plus all the bonuses (other rare strips, the entire Us Husbands). This is the one collectors have been waiting for, enabling you to complete your Krazy Sundays collection in three enormous, deluxe hardcover books designed by Chris Ware.
"The Krazy & Ignatz books have been a godsend to comics fans... Each book is bizarre, sweetly amusing, and blissfully continuity-free." – "The Best Comics of the '00s: The Archives," The A.V. Club