A massively overdue collection of Online Commentaries and Diversions, now on a weekly (or so) basis:
Review: the Absolute on The Amateurs by Conor Stechschulte. "Where The Amateursand Stechschulte truly shine are the moments of calm reflection that heighten the tension between episodes of violence and dismemberment. The butchers continually discuss their predicament, shifting between sorrow, fear, rage, and exhaustion." – Marie Anellothe Absolute
Review: Comics Worth Reading recommends An Age of License by Lucy Knisley. "Like the best travelogues, An Age of License shows you what it would be like to visit a place while reminding you that you can never have the same experience. If you liked her last book, Relish: My Life in the Kitchen, you should definitely check this out — there are some food mentions you’ll appreciate, but where Relish focused on past events, An Age of License gives more insight into the person Lucy Knisley is now." – Johanna Draper Carlson, Comics Worth Reading
Review: The Irish Times discusses how The Love Bunglers by Jaime Hernandez exemplifies the strengths of the graphic novel format. "As ever with Hernandez, it’s funny, complex, unsettling and beautifully drawn. It’s also a reminder that a graphic novel can do things that a novel told in straightforward prose simply can’t." – Anna Carey, The Irish Times
"That's the fascinating paradox of John Severin's war comics, and of Kurtzman's war comics in general. A story like "Night Patrol!" may have all the details of the soldier's uniforms correct, portray their formations precisely and even be photo-referenced from the landscape of the region in which these men hike. But what really stands out here (maybe my favorite piece in the book due to its noir feel) is the sense that the men are trapped by their surroundings and their job, oppressed by the desolate landscape, unfeeling sky and cold rain that conspire to make their lives miserable." – Jason Sacks, Comics Bulletin
Review: The Comics Alternative examines the political and historical contexts of Wallace Wood's Cannon. "For anyone familiar with spy fiction, the stories serialized in this collection are fairly standard, often serving as political mirrors that reflect the disillusionment felt by soldiers and veterans exiting the Vietnam War. In the course of the book, Cannon fights South American insurgents (led by Hitler in disguise, of course), domestic terrorists, right-wing militias, emasculated conmen, and neo-Nazis (but not the ones led by Hitler in disguise)." – Kenneth Kimbrough, The Comics Alternative
Check out this amazing video on S. Clay Wilson, with highlights from the upcoming Pirates in the Heartland: The Mythology of S. Clay Wilson Vol. 1:
Review: Comics Bulletin on Mickey Mouse Outwits the Phantom Blot by Floyd Gottfredson. "This is a gorgeous, surprising, wonderful package of stories full of thrills, surprises and a heady level of quality cartooning. The twists and turns that the masterful Floyd Gottfredson delivers are wonders to behold. If you think that Mickey is just a boring corporate icon, you need to read his battles with the Phantom Blot." – Jason Sacks, Comics Bulletin
Review: Comics Bulletin on M.K. Brown's collected works in Stranger than Life. "Brown is one of those rare cartoonists who's been able to follow her own muse for most of her career, and while some of the material presented in this book has the sort of off-center approach that many of the bestNew Yorker cartoonists take (as in the excerpts above), other pieces are more freeform, more of what seems like a reflection of Brown's unique inner life; all bulbous people drifting through life, doing faintly ridiculous things for pretty much no good reason." – Jason Sacks, Comics Bulletin
Review:Comics Alliance looks at Inio Asano's Nijigahara Holograph and it's legacy of violence. "Nijigahara Holograph manages to do many things very well. It's a sprawling story that never loses its focus on characters. It's symbolically laden without being heavy handed...It carries a palpable dread that will haunt you well after you put it down." – Kevin Church, Comics Alliance
Review: HTML Giant on Cosplayers by Dash Shaw. "This comic looks to both examine and excise our notions of otaku, nerds, geeks, and the like. Cosplayers will strike a chord with anyone who turns to reading as an escape, be they lit-nerd, comic geek, messageboard troll, or a little mixture of all of the above." – HTML Giant
Next month's issue of Booklist will include review of a recent releases by a Fantagraphics creator, excerpted below: The Love Bunglers by Jaime Hernandez Starred Review: "Skillfully merging tragedy and serendipity, Hernandez brings the [Maggie and Ray's] intertwining stories to a satisfying, if hard-won, culmination. The simplicity of Hernandez's page designs and the elegant economy of his drawing style belie the thoughtful sophistication of his storytelling… Although The Love Bunglers certainly isn't a jumping-on point for new readers, fans who've followed Maggie's exploits over the years will find it a heartbreakingly satisfying achievement that leaves the door wide open for further chapters in this most rewarding and accomplished of serialized comics." –Gordon Flagg
Rolling Stone recently listed it's Top 50 Non-Superhero Graphic Novels and we made up 22% of that list (including a few books that we published and have been rereleased by others). If you haven't picked up one of these books, get steppin' to your local comic book store, buy one from the website, visit the library---you've go so many options! Picks by Joe Gross also of the Austin-American Statesman.
47Safe Area Gorazde by Joe Sacco "Joe Sacco is one of the medium's premier journalists; that he has focused on war-torn regions makes his work feel that much more vital and impressive...Gorazde - is a great place to start."
44You'll Never Know series by C. Tyler "Tyler is a top flight memoirist, and You'll Never Know pulses with a maturity not often found in the medium."
43Usagi Yojimbo by Stan Sakai "Never less than thoughtful and entertaining, Usagi Yojimbo is one of the most consistent comics around."
15Uncle Scrooge by Carl Barks "His Donald Duck stories are a comedic blast, but his Uncle Scrooge stories are veritable silly symphonies of complicated plotting and intercontinental adventure. Need a master class in how to tell a great comics story? Read any Barks' Scrooge stories from 1950 until his retirement in 1966. It's all there."
5The Complete Crumb by R. Crumb "To ignore him completely is only to invite accidentally ripping him off; he's the Bob Dylan of the comics underground, and his work is embedded in the medium's DNA now."
1Love and Rockets by Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez "Imagine the Clash or R.E.M. or Run-DMC not only never broke up, but, for 30 years, never once released a less-than-excellent record. Imagine their command of their craft just became more pronounced year after year, earning the unshakable admiration of their fans and peers. Imagine they made the best record of their career, 30 years on, this decade. This is essentially what Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez have done with Love and Rockets, the greatest American comic book series of all time."
"The yarn Deitch spins around that outrageous premise includes surprisingly less of the supernatural and many more words than usual, which wrap around the panels and are carefully chosen to project the heroine's personality-that of a smart but unpretentious woman who once had an utterly fantastic adventure. Even more riveting than Deitch's other spellbinders." –Ray Olson
"the heightened emotional stakes are new: Frank's followers have watched him shrug off violent treatment with the resilience of a Warner Bros. cartoon character, but the loss of Fran seems more devastating than the worst punishment he's received at the hands of the devilish Whim."
"Hernandez's absence from Palomar hasn't dimmed his ability to bring its beloved characters to vivid life, and his visual approach, a skillful blend of cartooning and illustration, remains as distinctive and acute as ever. Fans who have missed Palomar will relish the chance to return there once again." –Gordon Flagg, Booklist
"…just as in our world, there's more to life than consumption, such as breakfast and odd proclamations ("From now on all eyeglasses will be rectangular") from enigmatic locations, or possibly people. You can never really be sure. More than a bit like the surrealism of real life, but everyone wears a muumuu." –Ray Olson, Booklist
"[The End is] as intelligently written and beautifully drawn-whether simply or intricately-as anything else this front-runner in his generation of comics artists has done. The last piece ends in blank-paneled silence, bringing to mind Wittgenstein's famous proposition, "What we cannot speak about, we must pass over in silence." –Ray Olson, Booklist
"The pleasing hodgepodge includes multipart sequences featuring Bagge creations like hipster wannabe Lovey and clueless suburbanites Chet and Bunny Leeway (resurrected from Bagge’s 1980s series, Neat Stuff); Bagge-scripted stories drawn by other alt-comics titans, including R. Crumb, Daniel Clowes, Adrian Tomine, and Gilbert and Jamie Hernandez as well as a story scripted by Alan Moore…While his rubbery, exaggerated visual style may be one-note (as effective and appealing as that single note might be), this diverse assortment of work, nearly all of it top-notch, shows that Bagge has plenty of arrows in his artistic quiver." –Gordon Flagg
"Chaffee’s artwork is bold and straightforward, and he imbues each dog with its own personality while avoiding excessive anthropomorphizing. The natural audience for this work is, of course, dog lovers, but you don’t have to be a caninophile to appreciate Chaffee’s remarkable ability to get inside the mind of man’s best friend." –Gordon Flagg
"…while other EC artists were moodier or spookier, Jack Davis’ stories stood out for their distinctly cartoony tinge, leavening the terror with a mocking humor…they remain entertaining six decades later, or as the Crypt-Keeper would put it, “There’s no ghoul like an old ghoul.” –Gordon Flagg
"…his paramount creation was the celebrated if obscure newspaper strip Barnaby, which, from its distinct visual look (minimalist, Thurberesque drawings; typeset word balloons) to its wry, understated humor, was unlike anything else ever to hit the comics page…There have been sporadic reprintings, but this effort, the initial installment in a five-volume series, is the first to collect it in its entirety. Even Mr. O'Malley couldn't conjure up a more welcome endeavor." – Gordon Flagg
"Because day in it means a lifetime (like what we mean by saying, "in Grandma's day"), the title of this spare graphic novel denotes an entire century… For lengthy stretches of his story, he's unspeaking, in the background, nowhere around as we watch the more dramatic lives of friends and family flare in bizarre illness and death, in madness and violence, and in love, at home more than in the wars and wanderings they are called to. All along, he lives with his mother, the still center of a century-long family storm that Hernandez's mastery of comics somehow makes somberly beautiful." –Ray Olson
"This welcome reissue publishes the work to its originally intended large page size and restores the original watercolors…The gritty yet gaudy artwork by Romberger, a friend of Wojnarowicz's who worked closely with him on the project, convincingly conveys the seedy milieu of Wojnarowicz's younger years as well as his later rage and frustration as he awaits his death, with the expressionistic colors ratcheting up the nightmarish intensity. Two decades on, Times Square is cleaned up and the AIDS crisis in America is largely contained; but Wojnarowicz's defiant cri de coeur retains its harsh potency." – Gordon Flagg
"…best known for his stories for the legendary EC Comics—8 of which are included here—Krigstein also produced remarkable work…in genres ranging from crime and horror to war and westerns.… Although Krigstein was a masterful illustrator…capable of varying his style to suit the demands of the story, his genius lay in how he broke down the scripts, using multiple, subdivided panels to audaciously manipulate time.…Krigstein’s thoughtful, intelligent approach to telling a story should be an eye-opener to readers of today’s mainstream comic books, which increasingly rely on huge panels filled with vacuous excitement and overblown rendering."
In this January's issue of Booklist you can find a review of our recent releases, excerpted below:
Heads or Tails by Lilli Carré: "Most of these stories are concerned with alternatives—overlapping realities, different explanations of a single phenomenon, evolving contradictions. . . As a graphic artist, Carré carries forward the design tradition that stems from the gossamer surrealism of Cocteau; as a verbal artist, she may be the most successful prose poet going. . . Her Wanda Gag-meets-Gene Deitch drawing style and new-weirdness literary bent make her work acutely interesting to both read and scrutinize." — Ray Olson (Starred Review)
Bizarre Magazine recently ran an article by Stephen Daultrey featuring some primo "JUICY" posters from our arty porn poster book Sexytime, edited by Jacques Boyreau and Peter Van Horne. Seeking to celebrate "the age of trashy porn with tales of enemas, garage lube, balcony wanking" and Sexytime, Daultrey and Boyreau's words effectively magic a nostalgia within the reader that I didn't think possible.
The 1960s brought on such a world that "Grindhouse movie producers had begun competing about who could up the filth factor," Boyreau points out. This pushed the crazitude of poster art to a higher level, porny and punny. Think enemas, pumps and dumps.
Daultrey laments the availibility of VHS tapes and internet porn meant a lessening need for "suggestive and sometimes absurd posters [that] made the films even more trendy and often operated as standalone works of art that were almost entirely autonomous from the fuck films they promoted."
But that's the beauty of the posters seen in Sexytime says Boyreau, "They activated their own post-porn, personal narratives. They're much like how Impressionist paintings or religious, symbolic paintings can induce visionary relationships between body and soul."
To read more, pick up the next Bizarre Magazine for the full article and buy a copy of Sexytime. That one at the library has at least '69 holds' on it and is smelling a wee bit ripe.