• Commentary: "The completion of Fantagraphics's Krazy [Kat] Sunday series also means, quite possibly, the end of Krazy Kriticism — a brand of writing that, as far as I can tell, only the Kat engenders. Critic Gilbert Seldes first articulated its credo in the 1924 article 'The Krazy Kat That Walks by Himself.' After comparing Herriman to Dickens, Cervantes, and Charlie Chaplin, Seldes threw up his hands: 'It isn't possible to retell these pictures; but that is the only way, until they are collected and published, that I can give the impression of Herriman's gentle irony, of his understanding of tragedy, of the sancta simplicitas, the innocent loveliness in the heart of a creature more like Pan than any other creation of our time.' Thus did the gates open to a flood of ecstatic, mimetic writing in which every critical impulse was mercilessly drowned in gushing praise and fervent prayers to put the comics between covers." – Sarah Boxer, Los Angeles Review of Books
• Commentary: At Print magazine, Steven Brower looks at different ways comics publishers restore and present vintage comics material, including his own compilation of Mort Meskin comics, Out of the Shadows: "For the Mort Meskin collection, we hoped that a contemporary audience would rediscover him; Fantagraphic’s fresh, newly minted approach goes a long way toward achieving that."
• Review: "I mean this in the nicest possible way but self-confessed obscurist Hans Rickheit is clearly not all there in the head. ...[Folly: The Consequences of Indiscretion] is a collection of shorts from over the years, frequently featuring the same characters, in particular identical twins Cochlea & Eustachia, who inevitably get themselves into all sorts of unpleasant bother. Definitely the type of read to make you wary of opening doors when you’re not entirely sure what’s on the other side, as Hans frequently surprises his characters, and us readers, by taking you somewhere you’d never expect, nor probably want to go to." – Jonathan Rigby, Page 45
• Review: "‘Plunder Island’ is the fourth of six oversized volumes collecting all of E.C. Segar’s Popeye-era Thimble Theatre strips.... The Segar book is every bit as good as the three volumes that preceded it – brilliant cartooning and laugh-out-loud funny gags. The only difference this time around is that the Sunday strips fill the first half of the book and the dailies fill the second half (it’s usually the other way around) but otherwise it’s business as usual. I don’t have a single bad thing to say about Segar’s Popeye, and the whole book was thoroughly enjoyable..." – Rob Wells, Comics – On The Ration
• Profile: Andrew Dansby of the Houston Chronicle profiles Daniel Clowes: "Clowes describes an eerie but common sight in his studio. Since eyes are the last thing he draws when he's working, the room is full of characters without them. 'I've had other cartoonists come over, and they've told me it's pretty creepy to see all these faces with no eyes staring back,' he says. 'But that's where I can get the last 10 percent of the emotion on the page. If I get it just right, you can subtly influence any expression through the eyes more than any other feature. They're where the character comes to life.'"
• Review: "This thing [The Furry Trap] is a nightmarish monster. It's pretty great. ...[W]hat Simmons does so well -- without peer, honestly -- is smash together sweetness and nightmare. Innocence and the most vile corruption imaginable. The stories are unsettling, but Simmons takes it three steps further than many other creators in this vein and then pushes the events into exceedingly horrific territory and then shows how unsettled even the characters are, when they realize the kind of world they live in.... Yeah, this stuff is really good, in surprisingly different ways from story to story. It's a reprint collection that feels like a wonderfully terrible, vibrantly new manifesto on what comics are capable of." – Tim Callahan, Comic Book Resources
• Review: "Popeye Vol. 6: Me Li’l Swee’ Pea... is the last of the real, 'classic' Popeye volumes, meaning it’s the last batch of Popeye comics E.C. Segar did before dying of leukemia in 1938. Underscoring the tragedy is the fact that Segar’s skills hadn’t dimmed at despite his illness. The final daily storyline, King Swee’ Pea, is as strong and hilarious as Segar’s best material... This volume is also special as it contains one of the saddest sequences I’ve ever read in comics, wherein Swee’ Pea is taken from a distraught Popeye. ...I think it speaks to Segar’s genius about how verklempt this sequence still makes me." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "Krazy & Ignatz 1922-24: At Last My Drim of Life Has Come True... is the final volume in Fantagraphics’ Krazy Kat collection, though for roundabout publishing reasons, it catches the strip midway through its run. Reading this latest collection, I feel like I have a deeper appreciation for Herriman’s narration, which I always kind of saw as entertaining, but secondary to the dialogue and situations. I’m not sure why, but I feel like something 'clicked' here and another piece of the Herriman puzzle has fallen into place for me. Another great thing about this book: A whole run of Herriman’s 'Us Husbands' strip as well as some really early stuff." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "[Pogo: Vol. 1 of the Complete Syndicated Comic Strips:] Through the Wild Blue Wonder is an absolute peach of a collection; it features the typically handsome deluxe binding we’re used to from Fantagraphics and a beautiful cover, and the non-strip material within is more than enough to justify the double-sawbuck price tag.... Of course, any such collection lives and dies by the quality, readability and durability of the strips inside... [Pogo's] art... is simply breathtaking; the facial expressions and body language in these strips are often deceptively simple, but they offer a master class in how to communicate emotion and expression in cartooning.... [Kelly's] backgrounds are lovely and provide a perfect balance to the detail in the character illustrations... But what puts Pogo way, way over the top in terms of sheer audacious greatness isn’t its art, great as that is. It’s Kelly’s remarkably eclectic writing and inventive use of language that makes the strip." – Leonard Pierce, A Schediastic Hootenanny
• Commentary: "...Any Similarity to Persons Living or Dead is Coincidental... is a beautiful book, and I’ve been thinking a lot about it recently. There’s a certain brand of mean-spirited, petty humor that’s been pretty popular over the last few decades, in which the main point seems to be laughing at some celebrity or another who no longer has a thriving career. As if failing to maintain A-list status in as fickle and luck-dependent as Hollywood was a valid reason to be mocked. At first glance, some of Friedman’s work, with its cast of has-beens and never-weres, can seem to be another example of this kind of comedy, but it isn’t — most of these strips cut a lot deeper than that. The reader feels the sting and pain of failure and despair too strongly to feel superior. In other words, we’re all Rondo Hatton." – Tim Hodler, The Comics Journal
• Review: "In Athos in America , the ideas behind the first three stories are so clever and punchy that they carry the rest of the anthology. Furthermore, the stories are constructed such that, due to their structure alone, any further padding would be impossible. In many ways, Athos In America feels like the artist looking back at his body of work to date... Despite his style, Jason is quite effective in modulating emotion from story to story, going from gags to violence to tragedy, sometimes all in the same story. Jason is in total control of all aspects of his storytelling, and, even after a decade straight of ambitious publishing, it seems as if he’s just getting warmed up." – Rob Clough, The Comics Journal
• Review: "Isle of 100,000 Graves was even better than I expected, and that’s saying a lot about a pirate comic by one of my favorite cartoonists. I’ve only ever read Jason’s short story collections before now, so this was my first introduction to his long-form work. It’s funny, adventurous, and totally had me rooting for wily little Gwenny and her unlucky pirate companion as they searched for Gwenny’s missing dad in an island school for executioners." – Michael May, Robot 6
• Review: At The Comics Journal it's Tucker Stone on Love and Rockets Vol. I No. 2: "There’s so much to love in here, and Gary Groth’s overly excited, Gaddis-quoting essay really sets a wonderful tone. This thing stinks of comics, it’s wet and messy."
• Review: "This series of short comic book tales is sure to offend the weak at heart and easily excitable. As with some of the best horror, The Furry Trap curb-stomps all expectations, zigs when zags are expected, and taps into areas some are just too uncomfortable to talk about.... There’s some sick shit happening in this hardcover and if you’re brave enough, you’ll crack The Furry Trap open and enjoy the stories free of restraint and convention, yet teeming with unbridled creativity and absolute insanity." – Mark L. Miller, Ain't It Cool News
• Review: "Without the rich cultural heritage of African-Americans, life in the U.S. would resemble Rachel Carson's Silent Spring: A dead zone, the silence broken now and again by the hissing of lawn sprinklers and whirring air conditioning units. Such are the thoughts inspired by Listen, Whitey: The Sights and Sounds of Black Power 1965-1975 by Pat Thomas.... The revolution seemed imminent because the portents were everywhere one turned in those years, and Thomas seems to have captured every single one of the portents in his explosive book. He allows us to see and hear the oppressed flexing muscles and tossing anger directly into the faces of their perceived oppressors.... It's the best of both worlds, a coffee table book with real scholarly heft." – Alan Bisbort, CT.com
• Review: "...I do not believe the details of the demise of the spiky-haired girl’s parents were ever revealed, but it would be uncharitable to assume the spunky, independent girl murdered them in their sleep.... Despite its homogenization, Bushmiller produced a funny and often clever gag strip.... Nancy was good enough to keep our elders laughing through the Great Depression and World War II. Nancy is certainly good enough to keep us laughing through the 2012 elections." – Mike Gold, ComicMix
• Preview: At The Beat, a 6-page sneak peek from Joe Daly’s Dungeon Quest Book 3, with Jessica Lee saying: “If you’re a fan of over-the-top action, heavy stoner humor, and quirky characters in the wildest of settings, now is your chance to catch up on Dungeon Quest. South African cartoonist Joe Daly ’s newest installment Dungeon Quest Book Three is proving to be the most epic of the series thus far.”
• Plug: At 20minutos.es, Ánxel Grove looks ahead to Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons: "That O'Connor is one of the best American storytellers of the twentieth century and that her stories are a must for anyone who enjoys good literature is already known. That she also was an excellent draftsman, writer and creator of cartoons was a secret known only to specialists in her work or dedicated fans." (Translated from Spanish)
• Review: "The white rabbit who serves as our guide suggests Alice in Wonderland, but despite fantastical touches, Interiorae is much more concerned with the world as it presents itself. Intertwining the lives of the people who live in an apartment complex, it’s in some sense a book-length meditation on a rather beautiful idea, that the day-to-day lives of all the little people aren’t just worth paying attention to, but are essential to the very fabric of the spaces we inhabit. Giandelli doesn’t entirely avoid mushy sentimentality nor the excesses of an open heart — absolutely no one is deserving of even so much as mild criticism here, which feels more naive than accepting — but her feel for our inner lives, as well as a visual style that evokes the richness of life as she sees it, win out in the end." – David Berry, National Post
• Review: "Nicolas Mahler’s childishly cute drawings put an adorable face on a satire with a pretty deep cynicism with the superhero comics industry. A creation of Korporate Komics, Angelman is pink dumpling with wings, blessed with the superpowers of sensitivity, open-mindedness and being a good listener, at least until focus groups and lagging sales put him through a gritty reboot and a some deep-seated neuroses about being a second-rate hero. Mahler’s points about corporate art certainly don’t aim for subtlety, but that doesn’t make them any less true, and a droll sense of humour keeps things from getting too preachy." – David Berry, National Post
• Review: "Athos in America... is another collection of graphic novellas and graphic short stories from master of deadpan presentation Jason in the style of Low Moon, and, as with the release of all new work from Jason, a cause for celebration.... This book is chock-full of examples of Jason’s inspired appropriation of classic trash pop culture, and his repurposing of it in formally experimental (or is playful a better word?) explorations of the human experiment.... Jason’s comics are among the hardest in the world to review, as it’s difficult to say anything beyond 'Well, that was perfect' in terms of assessment, and the specific magic he works is so difficult to describe in words, and so easy to communicate by simply pointing to a random volume of his work and saying, 'Hey, check this out.'" – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Robot 6
• Review: "For a list price of $39.99... this book [Amazing Mysteries] does a wonderful job of showing off Bill [Everett]’s early work and lets us learn a lot about the man. .... Bill was an enormous talent for telling stories. Bill’s work, often as writer and artist holds up much better then many other artists from his time. This volume is a lot of fun as you can flip through it and see how much Bill played with layouts and panel design.... Bill was an amazing talent.... Bill’s style is so distinct it is often easy to tell when he did all the work. Bottom line for a good collection of a master in his early days, this book is hard to beat." – Jim Martin, Comics and... Other Imaginary Tales
• Review: "There are only a handful of rock journalists who could have a collection of their work seem like a necessity, and Paul Nelson would be at the very top of that list.... Kevin Avery's book [Everything Is an Afterthought] gathers many of Nelson's finest pieces, most for Rolling Stone magazine... As amazing as all those stories are, it's also Avery's riveting biographical chapter on Paul Nelson that really takes a sledgehammer to the soul. Weaving together the recollections of many of Nelson's peers, the portrait we're left is of a man that struggled to maintain a hold on reality, finding higher enjoyment in the world of the mind.... Paul Nelson took what was already life-changing, and the way he saw it and could speak about it, made it even more thrilling. Now we can celebrate him all over again." – Bill Bentley, The Morton Report
• Profile: The lead-in to TCAF at Canada's National Post continues with David Berry talking to Zak Sally: "His latest book, Sammy the Mouse, had an original home as part of Fantagraphics’ Ignatz series, but is now being collected and bound by Sally himself, by hand in his Minnesota studio. The world of Sammy reflects this hands-on approach: it feels immediate and lived-in, almost less like a story than a tour of Sally’s internal brain architecture, with a slight misanthropy and freewheeling visual style that recall work like Chester Brown’s Yummy Fur. 'For me, finding those first underground comics was incredible,' says Sally, who got his start reading superhero tales, but was quickly turned. 'It turned comics into something you realized you could just do yourself: just get your s–t together and do it.'"
• Review: "Austrian cartoonist Nicholas Mahler cheerfully spoofs superheroes and modern comic-book publishing with Angelman... These kinds of jokes about the venality of superhero industry have been made many times before, but Mahler’s little squiggly characters are adorable, and his gags are genuinely funny, especially as poor little Angelman gets more and more loaded down with quirks and complications. Angelman is a satire, yes, but it also revels to some extent in the goofiness of revamps, retcons, and all the other gimmicks that keep mainstream comics afloat." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "The Matthias Wivel-edited anthology Kolor Klimax: Nordic Comics Now offers a generous sampling of recent work by new and veteran cartoonists from Sweden, Finland, Norway, and Denmark.... Overall, it’s a fine survey of creators who are largely unknown here in the States." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "Spain Rodriguez is one of the legends of the original underground comics wave, and he tells his own origin story in Cruisin’ with the Hound: The Life and Times of Fred Tooté, a collection of short stories about coming of age in Buffalo in the ’50s and ’60s. ...Cruisin’ with the Hound... gives a real flavor both of Rodriguez’s work — which was so different in its point of view than the other underground comics of the late ’60s and early ’70s — and from whence it came." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "It's over. And I am so sad. Fantagraphics's breathtaking reprints of some of the greatest comic strips of all time -- E.C. Segar's fabulously wonderful Popeye -- comes to a conclusion with this amazing sixth volume, a perfect collection of comics art that brings joy literally from cover to cover. From the latest spectacular die-cut front cover to the awesomely odd letter reprinted on the inside back cover, the final volume of the adventures of the sailor man and his friends, enemies and pets is pure joy and bliss, a deliriously charming collection... There was no world quite like the insane world that E.C. Segar created in Popeye. And that world is pure magic." – Jason Sacks, Comics Bulletin
• Review: "One of the most beloved comic strips of all time, Charles Schulz's Peanuts chronicled the adventures of Charlie Brown and friends for nearly five decades. Fantagraphics has been working for a few years now on a massive reissue of the entire strip, and their latest edition, The Complete Peanuts 1983-1984, collects work from the post-'classic' Peanuts era of the '60s. While it wouldn't be unfair to expect a bit of staleness at this stage, these later comics remain consistently witty and entertaining, and reflect Schulz's continued mastery of comedic timing within a four-panel layout.... Consistently subtle yet always timely, after 30 years, Schulz still had a winning formula on his hands." – Phil Guie, Critical Mob
• Interview (Audio): Podcaster Jason Barr: "Johnny Ryan guests on this addition of A.D.D. We talk about political correctness, illustration, growing up outside Boston, religion, wanting to be a priest, childhood loves, hating Doonesbury, having a funny family, not giving a shit, confrontational art, marriage & why people are afraid of Johnny Ryan among many other topics."
• Feature: "Love and Rockets has probably been my favorite comic book series for over a decade now. Though it’s been running since the early '80s, I didn’t discover it until Penny Century #1 came out in the late 90s -- I was immediately drawn to the cover art (as seen here), and the story within wasn’t at all what I expected. Of course, I immediately started reading all the collections starting from the beginning, so I could figure out who these characters were and discover their rich backstories." – Alicia Korenman, Chapelboro
• Plug: "Available now is an exceptional collection that just might have missed your attention. I have particularly enjoyed [The Sincerest Form of Parody].... This collects the 30 best stories from all the wild comics that came out to compete with EC's original Mad Comics, in 1953-55.... Plus I enjoy every project editor JohnBenson writes about. He offers fascinating insights into each of these disparate titles, interesting facts about the artists and even what they were spoofing." – Bud Plant
• Plug: On YALSA's The Hub blog, Emily Calkins includes Wandering Son by Shimura Takako on their list of graphic novels featuring LGBTQ characters
• Profile: Esteemed underground comix historian Patrick Rosenkranz at The Comics Journal: "Spain Rodriguez acknowledges that age hasn’t necessarily brought wisdom, but it does help him appreciate his youthful adventures more, especially the unique experience of growing up in Buffalo, New York in the 1950s, which he portrays in his latest book,Cruisin' with the Hound.... This new volume from Fantagraphics Books tells more about his childhood, the guys and girls in his neighborhood, early encounters with sex, religion, and science fiction, and the birth of rock and roll." Sample quote from Spain: "Each moment is unique. That’s the thing about comics. If affords you the potential to be able to capture that moment, probably more than anything else. It has certain objective and subjective potentiality. It’s something that nobody else can do. Each person is unique, each person sees things in their individual way and comics give you that opportunity."
• Review: "A book with 400 pages of Alex Toth comics is a dream come true. Toth is one of the early greats of comics. Many of the golden age and early silver age comic artists made drawings that were charmingly crude, but there were a few supergeniuses among them. Alex Toth's art is obviously a cut above a lot of his peers. His understanding of how to use areas of black is unequaled. Cartoonists like Frank Miller and Charles Burns, who really like to use as much black as possible, owe a lot to Toth as a guy who really broke new ground in blacking it up. If you want to learn something about shading and composition you go get this book [Setting the Standard] and just black out." – Nick Gazin, VICE
• Review: "I still like looking at Ditko's stuff and think his work is valid. He's not a great drawer but he is clearly full of intense feelings and a lot of rage. Although his actual rendering skills aren't as strong as someone like Toth his ideas, feelings, and visual concepts are strong. This book [Mysterious Traveler] collects various sci-fi and horror comics he drew that are all pretty fun to look at and have neat visual ideas littered throughout." – Nick Gazin, VICE
• Review: "[Glitz-2-Go] deals with feeling unattractive and dressing kinda like a drag queen and being dissatisfied with relationships. The Didi Glitz comics were produced at a time when doing art about the hidden perversions of the 50s was big. Pee Wee Herman, Blue Velvet, John Waters, a lot of stuff Devo did — it all fits in with this book." – Nick Gazin, VICE
• Interview: At PSFK, an excerpt of Rob Walker talking about Significant Objects in Need to Know Magazine: "People value and are attracted to stories, and this often plays out in the world of objects. What we tried to do is take that observation in a different direction. Instead of a traditional story ‘about an object’ (where it was made, why it’s so great, how it will make your life better), we wanted creative writers to invent stories inspired by objects, which can lead to all kinds of unpredictable results. And in this case, the results turned out to be strong enough that the stories stood on their own."
• Commentary: A Fletcher Hanks creation tops Pip Ury's list of "6 Great Old-Timey Comics for (Traumatizing) Kids" at Cracked: "Fantomah, Mystery Woman of the Jungle is often credited as the first comic book superheroine, debuting in early 1940 and predating Wonder Woman by almost two years. Whoever decided she counted as one, however, has an extremely loose definition of what superheroing entails -- for starters, as far as we know superheroes aren't meant to be mind-numbingly terrifying."
• Review: "Since its 1996 Olio Press inception with The Curse of Brambly Hedge, writer/artist Linda Medley’s sweetly Grimm magnum opus has sometimes appeared fitfully, and this week, Castle Waiting Vol. II #16 continues that trend. More specifically, as her publishers note in a one-page introduction, three years have passed since last the black-and-white Fantagraphics Books neofable graced comics shops. Still, those same publishers — Gary Groth and Kim Thompson, not exactly gentlemen known for lavishing praise profligately — also characterize the series as 'one of the greatest and most beautifully drawn fantasy comic books of all time,' and the verity of that characterization, even after so long a hiatus, earns Castle Waiting this column’s most heartfelt recommendation, as does the series’ gentle humor. Regarding its visuals, by way of example, a two-page view of Jain’s new quarters sparks astonishment for the impeccability of its draftsmanship; regarding its wit, meanwhile, a gentle chuckle should greet Rackham’s comment about the castle’s three handmaidens: 'They’ve been old biddies for so long, it’s hard to imagine that they were once young biddies…'" – Bryan A. Hollerbach, PLAYBACK:stl
• Review: "Record collecting was an engagement with mystery. [Pat] Thomas understands this and his book, Listen, Whitey, which documents the pieces -- both lauded and obscure -- of the recording element within the Black Power movement of the 1960s and ‘70s.... These small discs were part of the overall effort that allowed African Americans to get real information about the Black Power Movement, to let them know they weren't alone, to show them ways to be involved, to stoke ideas and energy, and to provide catharsis. Thomas mines this territory to construct a richly illustrated history of a time when revolution was damn hard, and it left reminders that it once existed." – John Seven, North Adams Transcript
• Scene: Culture blogger Philip Utley of Kellygreen reviews the Daniel Clowes retrospective exhibit — "There’s a quiet, clever intelligence to his work. He can also be harsh and sexually frank. Which, of course, totally offends me. So, when a show of his work came to the newly renovated Oakland Museum of California, I pulled out my dildo and jumped in the car." — with a bunch of close-up photos of the artwork
In this month's issue of Booklist you can find reviews of three of our recent releases, excerpted below:
Amazing Mysteries: The Bill Everett Archives Vol. 1, edited by Blake Bell: "Dating from 1938–42, most [stories] feature superheroes designed to compete with the then-new Superman, such as Amazing-Man, who gained his powers from the Tibetan monks who raised him; the Flash Gordon-derived Skyrocket Steele; and Hydroman, who could transform himself into a waterspout. The stories and artwork are laughably crude by modern standards, although no more so than those in other comic books from the period. But even the earliest ones show traces of the sleek polish that would become Everett’s hallmark. By the later stories, his mature style is firmly in place, a sign that future volumes in the series will be of even greater interest." – Gordon Flagg
Krazy & Ignatz 1922-1924: At Last My Drim of Love Has Come True by George Herriman: "Herriman’s graphically dazzling, ineffably beguiling creation remains unequaled a century after its first appearance, and the 13 volumes amassing his three decades’ worth of fanciful Sunday funnies are mandatory purchases for any comics-art collection. This volume is filled out with Herriman rarities, including his first daily comic strips, from 1903, and the full run of Us Husbands, a far-more-conventional Sunday strip about married life that Herriman drew throughout 1926." – Gordon Flagg
The Sincerest Form of Parody: The Best 1950s MAD-Inspired Saritical Comics, edited by John Benson: "MAD historian Benson presents 32 stories and nine covers from the copycats fielded by nine publishers, and at the end of the book discusses them. If you read the stories before the notes and you’re a devotee of the early MAD, you’ll have recognized the imitative qualities Benson points out, such as how MAD’s Jack Davis and Bill Elder had the drawing styles that were aped, and how Elder’s habit of adding what he called chicken fat — jokey signs, bits of business going on in the background, incongruous decoration — to every panel was swallowed whole by the knockoffs. But as Benson tells us, none of the pretenders quite 'got' MAD or, more important, its nearly sole writer, Harvey Kurtzman, whose all-important 'touch' lay in his jaundiced, derisive, smart attitude toward American commercial culture. Prime Americana." – Ray Olson
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