• 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
• Review: "The names here are mysterious, but the book makes a good case for many of the artists to be better known, which seems to be its intent. Tommi Musturi’s 'Samuel' stories, for example, several of which are included, are colorful, wordless, and Zen-like in their focus on the here and now. Joanna Rubin Dranger’s 'Always Prepared to Die for My Child' is another highlight, with simple drawings that manage to convey a lot. And Jenni Rope’s minimalist stories, which nearly bookend the volume, are poetic and impressive.... The number of woman cartoonists is also worth noting, partially because there’s no attention called to it. Kolor Klimax is a good first offering and may well indicate a series worth revisiting." – Hillary Brown, Paste
• Review: "Between the heavy cross hatching and almost wood-carved appearance of Rickheit’s art and his fixation on the degraded physical form, Folly often looks like a Jan Svankmajer film or Tool video adapted by Geof Darrow or Jim Woodring. Rickheit’s work is visually striking... Folly is a gorgeous but uncomfortable collection best enjoyed a few pages at a time." – Garrett Martin, Paste
• Review: "Like a Velvet Glove [Cast in Iron] is an early work by a creator who will later become one of the artform's greatest creators. There are themes and moments in this book that will be revisited in Clowes's later works, and revisited in smarter and more focused ways in some of his newer and greater works. Daniel Clowes is clearly building his skillset in this book, as he works on his art style, story progression and thematic obsessions. But it's still an incredible work of art that shifted my perceptions of the world a bit as well." – Jason Sacks, Comics Bulletin
• Interview (Audio): Mike Dawson's final guest as host of The Comics Journal's "TCJ Talkies" podcast is Tim Kreider, about whom Dawson writes in his intro, "Tim has often insisted that he doesn’t consider himself a proper political cartoonist, but was only drafted into writing about current events by the lunacy of the times. It’s true that going back and re-reading Tim’s comics in the run-up to the Iraq war, is a vivid reminder of how hysterical things were at that time (not in a good way)."
• Analysis: Matt Seneca examines a 1937 Krazy Kat strip for his column at Robot 6: "This page expresses a single gem of an idea, duality of character. It’s an idea both simple and profound, perfectly suited to Herriman’s aesthetic, and the way it’s put forth is so straightforward that it’s easy to read the strip over time and again before realizing that what it achieves could only be done using the comics medium."
• List:Time Out New York names the "50 Funniest New Yorkers," and coming in at #16: "Cartoonist Michael Kupperman transports his readers to another world altogether. In the recurring comic Tales Designed to Thrizzle and book-length parody Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910–2010, Kupperman perverts antiquated cultural signifiers into a jungle of foreplay robots, nut bras and absurd character concoctions such as the Mannister (a man whose superpower is turning into a bannister). Even in his live appearances — during which he occasionally appears as Twain — Kupperman has the same sort of folksy okey-doke quality as his pulpy '50s source material; but make no mistake, there's an uncanny comedy brain teeming underneath his cool exterior." – Matthew Love
• Review: "...Swarte’s work does have that free-wheeling and even irreverent feel that you’ll find in the best work of Gilbert Sheldon and Robert Crumb. Chris Ware writes the introduction to this book, and he does a good job of setting up the collection. As he points out, Is That All There Is?contains most of Swarte’s work, which has me wondering what comics were left out, and why. Regardless, this is an incredible collection that spans Swarte’s career from the early 1970s to today." – Derek Parker Royal, Ph.D.
• Review: "Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, the marquee team of the early days of comics, pioneered the romance genre in 1947 with this title, and, as you'd expect from the creators of Captain America, Young Romance wasn't bad. It had its fair share of melodramatic tear-jerkers, and occasional forays into misogyny (stupid women who need a man to teach them how to live), but Simon & Kirby also flirted with social issues like class distinctions and religious conflicts. And they didn't restrict themselves to small towns or big cities, like most romance stories, finding romance out West or in the Korean War. Young Romance offers 21 of the best of Simon & Kirby's romance stories, and that's probably just the right amount." – Andrew A. Smith, Scripps Howard News Service
• Analysis: At The Hooded Utilitarian, Robert Stanley Martin presents "one comics critic’s analysis and judgments of [Robert] Crumb’s career. I hope it’s of more interest than a pronouncement that his work is a single big project and one should just read all of it. Breaking his work down into distinct periods does, I think, help one to get a better handle on Crumb, no matter what one’s opinion of this or that individual effort. I certainly don’t think this essay is the last word. With Crumb, no essay ever is."
Today's (and yesterday's when it was slow) Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "The Dutch artist and designer Joost Swarte has a tremendous reputation among cartoon-art aficionados, given his tiny body of comics work. The answer to the title of his 40-year retrospective, Is That All There Is?, is: 'Pretty much, yeah.'... Plot is beside the point. Swarte is more concerned with formal purity, and with making the deep structures of cartooning visible. He pares his art to mechanical, hard-edged vectors and curves: caricature triple-distilled into symbolic visual shorthand, with every line canted just so. His geometrically precise, nearly architectural drawings are the bridge between the Tintin creator Hergé and contemporary artists like Chris Ware, who wrote this volume’s foreword." – Douglas Wolk, The New York Times
• Review: "Now we're talkin'! The first two volumes in Fantagraphics' Steve Ditko Archives (edited by Blake Bell) were rewarding collections of the offbeat auteur's early work, and among the best archival books of horror comics published in the last several years. But in volume 3, a.k.a. Mysterious Traveler, we see Ditko's lunacy reach its full maturation... The bold dynamism and moody linework that would characterize Ditko's Spider-Man and Dr. Strange work just a few years later, as well as his horror tales for Creepy and Eerie, is in evident throughout.... Volume 3 is essential for classic horror comics fans, and further cements Ditko's reputation as an artist without peer." – Joseph McCabe, FearNet
• Review: "Kevin Avery has compiled an incredibly thorough account of one of folk and rock music’s most important critics of the 20th Century: Paul Nelson. Avery reveals Paul Nelson as not just a music critic, but also a true writer who loved his subject matter possibly more than anything else. After reading, I felt that I knew more about Nelson than simply his life’s accomplishments—I knew him as the man he was: an observer who secluded himself with his books, film and music." – SLUG Magazine
• Review: "Madcap university mystery. Girl detective Judy Drood, with the hapless Kasper Keene, investigates the disappearances of girls on campus. Beautiful young women (some dressed like pirates), monstrous old men (some of them professors), photography, a puppet, and a misguided quest for eternal youth all figure in.... The dark edge in Sala’s other work is fully expressed here [in Mad Night]. The book is incredibly violent (though the dark, woodcut-like art makes it feel absurd). Here’s a body count by how victims meet their end..." – Gene Ambaum, The Unshelved Book Club
• Plug: "Published three years ago in an indie porn comic, Josh Simmons’ 'Cockbone' remains a high water mark for today’s horror comic.... The Furry Trap will collect that story, along with ten others being described by the publisher as 'hard-edged horror.' You already know if you can handle this stuff, so if you can, it’s time to start counting days. Eli is, most definitely, coming." – Tucker Stone, "Flavorpill's 10 Most Anticipated Comics Releases, April-July 2012"
• Plug: "While it’s a bit of an exaggeration to call Dal Tokyo Panter’s lost masterpiece, it certainly hasn’t been the easiest thing to come by. That’s to be the case for anything that’s serialized over the course of multiple years, multiple publications, and two different continents. Thankfully, the entire book has finally found a home at Fantagraphics, and those of us without access to early-’80s copies of the LA Reader can finally experience 'a future Mars that is terraformed by Texan and Japanese workers' as only Gary Panter — one of the most influential cartoonists alive — can provide. For some of us, this book has been a long time coming." – Tucker Stone, "Flavorpill's 10 Most Anticipated Comics Releases, April-July 2012"
• Interview (Audio): Yesterday's Pat Thomas radio guest spot to discuss and spin Listen, Whitey! on The Hear and Now on Berkeley's listener-powered KPFA can be streamed from their website for another couple of weeks
• Analysis (Video):At his blog, Paul Hornschemeier shares video of two "talks given during my recent graphic novelist's residency at Thurber House in Columbus, Ohio. Tammy Birk (Professor of English, Otterbein University) discusses themes in Mother, Come Home while Ryan Jordan (Department of Philosophy, The Ohio State University) examines the nature of paradoxes in general, using Zeno's paradoxes in The Three Paradoxes as a launching point."
• Analysis: At where else but The Hooded Utilitarian: "'Lightning Only Strikes Twice Once, Y'Know': Phallic Mothers, Fetishism, and Replacement in the Comics of Los Bros Hernandez," Part I (focusing on Gilbert's work) and Part II (focusing on Jaime), by Eric Berlatsky
• Review/Plug:City Weekly's Scott Renshaw previews Kevin Avery's appearance at The King's English Bookshop in Salt Lake City on Friday to sign Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson, saying "Avery crafts a biography of a largely self-taught thinker who immersed himself in his passions, whether that meant classic film, the detective fiction of Ross Macdonald or folk music. The author allows his subject to develop primarily through oral history, as his friends and contemporaries recall a quirky iconoclast who disappeared into obscurity and a lonely death in 2006. But the book is most compelling simply by bringing Nelson’s own distinctive writing voice to a new generation, a voice that burned with intelligence, unabashed pimping of the work he loved and a commitment to understanding what artists were trying to accomplish."
• Profile: Scott Iwasaki of The Park Record talks to Kevin Avery in advance of his signing at Dolly's Bookstore in Park City, UT on Saturday: "'Even though it started out as an anthology of Paul's work, as I started learning more about him and his life, I found there was a lot of Paul between the lines of the reviews and I knew the book I needed to do had to also be a biography,' Avery said. 'I thought it would be a great way to present his work and tell his story.'"
• Review: "...I like comics to be really crazy. Luckily there are people out there who share my deranged concept of what comics should be. One is Johnny Ryan, who understands comics at odds with artistic correctness and had already demonstrated his lack of respect towards his fellow artists in particular, and everything in general... The level of violence reaches insane levels of pure abstraction; the figures in Prison Pit cannibalize, maim, tear, break, eat and shit with such enthusiasm and rawness, it's like watching some amoebas evolving through the microscope.... A Stan Lee for the new millennium." – Alfonso Garcia, C (translated from Spanish)
• Interview: There's a seemingly-slightly-out-of-date but still fun Q&A (with acrostic Qs!) with Steven Weissman at Wall Drawing: "Nice colors help a lot. Black and white is tough, you know, I have to think more. Even when I’m drawing for fun I like to use markers, screentones and so forth."
• Review: "Gagne’s selections are first-rate. These stories are fiery fare. Lovers clash like storm-tossed waves on rocky shores. They battle misconceptions and social injustices.... Even stories created under the constraints of the Comics Code pack a wallop. In the skilled hands of Simon and Kirby, love is most definitely a battlefield. The book’s special features are also top-notch.... Young Romance: The Best of Simon & Kirby’s Romance Comics belongs in the personal library of all Simon and Kirby fans and all serious students of comics art and history. It’s a prime example of what I mean when I say this is the true golden age of comics." – Tony Isabella
• Review: "[Nuts] is certainly a very good strip... and it was this completely left-field life event, showing a style of comics I'd never seen before.... The book looks just great, even if I would quibble with the designer's very odd choice to call this a 'graphic novel' on the front cover, and while something about it honestly lacks the genuine, timeless brilliance of Wilson's decades of Playboy comics, this is still an important and very readable collection.... Recommended." – Grant Goggans, The Hipster Dad's Bookshelf
• Interview: At Publishers Weekly, Casey Burchby talks to Kelly Gerald, editor of Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons: "I’d been researching and working on the cartoons for a while, but I can’t take any credit for getting this project off the ground. Gary Groth and Fantagraphics approached O’Connor’s agent about doing a book and worked out an agreement for an exclusive contract in late 2009, which was when I was contacted. Some years ago, I gave a presentation on the cartoons at an O’Connor conference in Milledgeville where some representatives of the O’Connor estate were present. They liked what they saw and remembered me when the Fantagraphics contract was developed. I’m very grateful to them."
• Profile: At The Comics Journal, R.C. Harvey on the life and work of Ernie Bushmiller: "Various among us have long been baffled and sometimes afflicted by the persistent presence, lurking at the fringes of cartoon afficionadom — or, sometimes, burrowed deep, prairie-dog-like, into its heart — of a sect or cultish non-organization of penumbra dimension, cult-ivated (so to speak) by a person or persons unknown.... In an effort to explain this mysterious and irrational dedication, we now paw through the alleged facts of Bushmiller’s life and work."
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