• Review: "Some of the most interesting travel books happen by accident. If Alexander Theroux’s wife had not gone to Estonia on a Fulbright Scholarship, it is unlikely that he would have spent an extended period in the tiny Baltic republic, an experience that impelled him to write this book [Estonia: A Ramble Through the Periphery].... Despite all [his] genuine delight in the quaint, not merely linguistic but extending also to Estonian architecture, what Mr. Theroux mostly shows us about the country and its people is exasperation, irritation, furious rage. To say that it — and they — get on his nerves is the mildest of understatements. He takes endless potshots at their food, admittedly an easy target, but by the time you get near the end of the book and find a section titled 'What did I hate about Estonia,' it’s no surprise." – Martin Rubin, The Washington Times
• Plug: "The premise of Pat Thomas's handsome book [Listen, Whitey! The Sights and Sounds of Black Power 1965-1975] is that this was an era in which revolutionaries such as Bobby Seale and Angela Davis were treated as pop cultural icons, while musicians became revolutionaries – meaning Gil Scott-Heron, the Last Poets, Bob Dylan, John Lennon and more." – Caspar Llewellyn Smith, The Guardian
• Interview:The Believer presents the fourth and concluding part of Ross Simonini's 2008 interview with Jim Woodring (which can be read in its entirety here): "I don’t believe in art like I used to. I believe in something beyond it, something that contains art and everything else. But I just don’t quite have the nerve to chuck drawing and painting. Part of it is that I enjoy IT too much, and part is that I don’t have the courage to renounce the world. I don’t want to move out of this nice neighborhood so that I can live in a shed and devote myself to meditating and touching something I can’t feel. I’m addicted to the fun of playing in the world."
• Review: "Fantagraphics is giving us another opportunity to revisit R. Crumb's iconic character in a hardcover edition of his collected adventures, called The Life and Death of Fritz the Cat.... Despite Fritz's demise 40 years ago, these stories maintain their wit, satirical edge, and their ability to offend and shock. The earlier stories are funny and bizarre..., and the later ones are funny and angry... Even the final story can be viewed as funny in an extraordinarily dark context, although it helps to be aware of Crumb's intentions. To read 'Fritz the Cat, Superstar' first, or without knowledge of Crumb, would feel a lot like confronting a knife-wielding lunatic in a dark alley.... Fantagraphics' new hardcover edition of the Fritz portfolio is unburdened by editorial commentary or contextual material of any kind. This encourages readers to experience the comics as if for the first time -- and find that the acid in Crumb's humor still stings." – Casey Burchby, SF Weekly
• Review: "Just released by Fantagraphics, [Action! Mystery! Thrills!] is one the best books yet done on Golden Age Comics! Sadowski is by far my favorite editor of compilations/retrospectives on comic book art!... A fascinating and important look at an exceptional period of American art! My highest recommendation to anyone interested in 20th Century illustration and of course the comics!" – Golden Age Comic Book Stories (via The Comics Reporter)
• Review: "[Athos in America]'s the usual collection of laconic oddness and outright weirdness.... Yes, it would be fair to say if you're looking for examples of dark humour in comics, Jason probably would be a very good place to start." – Jonathan Rigby, Page 45
• Review: "Mixing illustrated text pieces with short comic strips, Kupperman uses [an] oddball conceit [in Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910-2010] to deliver a wacky, adventure-filled romp that sends you laughing your way through the twentieth century.... The thick, precise lines of Kupperman’s drawing style bring a much needed dead-pan expression to a book that might otherwise feel out of control. The text pieces are often well-used, giving Kupperman more room to play with Twain’s voice and toss in frequent verbal puns." – Matthew L. Moffett, No Flying No Tights
• Feature:The Stranger's Dave Segal talks to Pat Thomas about the creation of Listen, Whitey! The Sights and Sounds of Black Power 1965-1975 and says of the book, "Listen, Whitey! presents Black Power's volatile ups and downs with stunning imagery. Designed by Fantagraphics' Jacob Covey, the copiously illustrated Listen, Whitey! is a joy to behold as well as to read.... Ultimately, Thomas captures the revolutionary spirit of myriad vital strands of the movement and stokes your desire to hear these recordings."
• Review: "...Action! Mystery! Thrills! Comic Book Covers of the Golden Age 1933-1945 [is] wonderful. ...Sadowski offers up an incredibly diverse gallery of forgotten superheroes, pistol-toting gangsters, cartoonish Nazis, and talking animals. Each cover has been painstakingly restored to pristine condition, and is presented in full color on glossy paper. It’s as close to browsing the comics rack of a World War II-era drugstore as most of us will ever get.... Sadowski... is one of the most adept chroniclers of comic-book history working today. He offers succinct but informative notes on each cover, but his most notable achievement in this volume is his selection of covers. The notes are helpful and fun, but it’s the progression of images itself that is the most telling.... At a perfectly reasonable $29.99, it’s a must for any comic-book fan’s library." – April Snellings, Knoxville Metro Pulse
• Review: "Set to Sea is a book to read and contemplate on, a book to look at and think about, a book to read slowly and then to read again. It's a lovely graphic novel from a creator I hope to see a lot more from as the years go on, and I hope his own busy life affords him enough leisure and time to continue to make gemlike, poetic stories like this one." – Andrew Wheeler, The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
• Analysis:Buz Sawyer administers a spanking (and a beatdown) and Robot 6’s Matt Seneca analyzes the action in an October 1944 Roy Crane strip
• Review: "Barks's output has been reprinted often but either piecemeal in flimsy monthly comics or in high-priced collector's editions. [Walt Disney's Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes], covering the years 1948-49, is the first in a planned 30-volume Barks library that will reprint his entire duck oeuvre in durable, affordable hardcovers.... Above all, Barks's Duckburg rings true because of his cynical world view. He rarely plastered on the sentimentality that dogs other Disney creations.... Although there are moral values in Barks's stories, he was never didactic and never wrote down to his readers. In his words, 'I always tried to write a story that I wouldn't mind buying myself.'" – Owen Heitmann, The Sydney Morning Herald
• Interview: Peter Huestis, a.k.a. Princess Sparkle Pony, writes "Diane Noomin's comics cover quite a bit of territory, from the broad (ha, ha) farce of her Didi Glitz stories to penetrating social satire and revealing autobiography. At her best... she manages to combine all of the above approaches to devastating effect," and presents his 1995 Hypno Magazine interview with Noomin (the intro to which is blurbed on the back cover of Glitz-2-Go): "I consider myself a feminist. Certainly there are people who won't, but I'm a feminist and I think it's good to do sexual material, and make fun of sex, and not think that there are certain bodily functions that we shouldn't talk about because we're feminists. I think that's... fucked up."
• Plug: "Fantagraphics Books reprints the best, from beginning to end, of Robert Crumb's iconic Fritz the Cat comics. Collected here is a sampling from the life of the famous funny animal, the American everyguy, metropolitan college student Fritz whose wise words of 1960's rebellion win him attention from ladies of all species. It's hard not to be charmed by Fritz." – 211 Bernard (Librairie Drawn & Quarterly)
• Plug: "Reading or re-reading Sala's Mad Night seems an infinitely better use of all of our free time than reading anything on the Internet right now." – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Every Day Is Like Wednesday
• (Behind the) Scene(s): Read all about Frank Santoro's visit to the hallowed halls of our HQ and workshop presentation at our swingin' storefront in his tour diary at The Comics Journal
Thanks to Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse series co-editor David Gerstein for passing along these links I missed the first time 'round:
• Review: "Fantagraphics' second volume of Floyd Gottfredson's Mickey Mouse daily strip delves into the imagination of the cartoonist... Floyd Gottfredson is one of the most truly talented individuals that is finally getting his day in the sun. His contributions to the character and development of Mickey Mouse and newspaper storytelling are nothing short of revolutionary. Mickey Mouse Volume 2: Trapped on Treasure Island stands as second and essential tome in one of the most richly visionary and creative outputs in modern sequential art." – Rafael Gaitan, Comics Bulletin
• Review: "Like Volume 1, this volume does not disappoint. It's jam-packed full of lovingly restored daily strips. Some of the strips are definitely a product of their times. My only complaint is the color choice for the cover. Green? Seriously? And, not even a good shade either." – My Disney Collection Blog
• Plug: "While the stories are restored from Disney's originals and negative proofsheets, the book also includes over 50 pages of supplementary features, with rare behind-the-scenes art and vintage publicity material and has great paintings by Gottfredson from all stories." – Dave Wessels, Dave Wessels ComiX
• Review: "This week we look at one of the best things I bought last year: Fantagraphic’s first two volumes of the collected Floyd Gottfredson’s Mickey Mouse strips. About the presentation of the volumes, the quality is on par with other collections published by Fantagraphics. That is to say high.... This frenzied spirit and (mostly) good natured humor is just one of the reasons to pick up one or both of these volumes. Gottfredson’s art in these volumes is crisp and consistent with the Disney look. Probably because he worked in the animation studio before taking over the strips, there’s a great sense of movement and fluidity in the panels.... As impressive as the detailed panels are, the craft of the story shows equal skill." – Matt LaVergne, LEMUR Comics Blog
• Review: "[These] are outstanding books, filled not only with great comics, but with reams of background material on the character and the development of the strip itself. These books have gotten nothing but praise from most quarters and I'm very pleased to at last add them to the stack of beautiful books on comics which is slowly but steadily consuming my home." – Rip Jagger, Rip Jagger's Dojo
• Review: "This box set is one of the best books in my collection.... These early works about Mickey Mouse by Floyd Gottfredson are very enjoyable to read.... In these early stories of Mickey Mouse, he is very brave. He is a hero." – Inge, It's a Beautiful Life
• Plug: "Do yourself a favor – next time you are in the store take a few moments and pick up a copy of Lost in the Andes or Pogo, [or] either Mickey Mouse collection... [and] flip through it. Read a few strips. You will immediately see what I am talking about. These are rich, beautiful books and they deserve to be read by everyone." – Andy Mansell, The Heroesonline Blog
• Review: "[Swarte's] comic pages are playful symphonies, composed to the smallest detail. Though his style is static in nature, he is a master of panel layouts, organising the contents of each panel in such a way that movement erupts by the way he’s leading the eye across the page.... For those wanting to familiarize themselves with the comics of Joost Swarte, Is That All There Is? is a nice baptism into his specific world vision full of retro architecture and absurd happenings." – Bart Croonenborghs, Broken Frontier
• Review: "It is not very often that a comic (from any country) deals with gender identity in such a sensitive and accessible way, which is why I am so incredibly happy that Wandering Son is being translated into English.... I really do love Wandering Son. The story has a quietness to it that hides the intensity of its emotion. While gender identity is an important part of Wandering Son, it is not the only aspect of the story or or the characters. Shuichi, Takatsuki, their friends, families, classmates, and teachers all come across as real people. The connections between characters transcend gender, too. Friendships are developed and strengthened by common interests and standing up for each other.... I can't recommend Wandering Son enough and am really looking forward to the next volume." – Ash Brown, Experiments in Manga
• Review: "There really is no cartoonist in the world quite like the great Joost Swarte. His stories are surreal, silly, sexy and sometimes spectacular. They're gorgeously drawn in a classic European style that lights up every page of this wonderful and gorgeous book [Is That All There Is?]. Don't worry about these stories being too obscure or strange -- this book fun and silly and awesome. ★★★★★" – Jason Sacks, Comics Bulletin
• Review: "Wilfred Santiago’s graphic novel captures the talent of Clemente the baseball player while also showcasing and illuminating the many simple and human qualities of the man that forged him into an honest and authentic hero. 21′s complex yet accessible narrative and profound artwork make it a swift and affecting experience, one that I plan to enjoy on multiple future readings. If you’re a fan of baseball and things that are really well done, you could do a whole lot worse than to check out the novel for yourself." – Kyle Davis, Call to the Pen
• Review: "Editor/designer Greg Sadowski returns to his tireless exploration of the comic book with this magnificent collection of 176 full color covers [Action! Mystery! Thrills!], dating from the Golden Age. As in his previous volumes..., Sadowski supplies copious end notes and annotations. Though this time, the information additionally reads as an entertaining history of early comics.... Sadowski once again delivers an essential book for anyone with an interest in comics history." – Rick Klaw, The SF Site: Nexus Graphica
• Review: "...[C]urrent fans of the [Zippy] strip are in for a surprise, a shock, and, ultimately, a major treat, when they pick up Griffith's new career retrospective, Lost and Found: Comics 1969-2003... The journey from these energy-packed, overstuffed, unpolished early comics to the elegant masterwork of the present is a journey greater than that of Gary Trudeau with Doonesbury or Charles Schultz with Peanuts.... His early reign as an oversexed adolescent-minded wiseacre gives way to a long golden afternoon of wry and wistful philosophizing, with frequent salient eruptions of deserved ire and malice toward all!" – Paul Di Filippo, The Barnes & Noble Review
• Interview: At Literary Kicks, Alan Bisbort talks to Bill Griffith about his career-spanning collection Lost and Found: "When I put this new collection together, Fantagraphics had been trying to get me to do this book for about ten years. When they first suggested it, they wanted some of the early, pre-Zippy work, along with the other non-Zippy work of more recent years. But I told them at first that 'that stuff has got to be hidden. Maybe when I’m dead someone can bring it out' but then over a period of time I grew to accept my arc, so to speak, whatever my arc is."
• Review: "Wandering Son... is a measured, sensible and sensitive series... Part of Wandering Son's hook is a distanced view at discomfort with one's own body. The manga is written to evoke the feeling of being ill at ease in one's own skin, such that everyone who has went through puberty can sympathize with these characters, regardless of their own relationship with sexual identity issues. I'm not so sure how particularly, generally appealing the prospect of reliving those feeling may be, but that sort of identification is a crucial part of what makes Wandering Son a superlatively fascinating manga.... Though it may or may not be an effective mirror to our own lives, it has its reader thinking about everything, both small and significant, [that] shape[s] us. As a result, Wandering Son proves to be deeply involving in an unconventional way." – Scott Green, Ain't It Cool News
• Review: "[The Life and Death of Fritz the Cat]'s beautifully drawn, even the earliest material. Fritz’s face is as expressive as all get-out, though you may be surprised at how dainty Crumb’s line is mid-period. One thing, however, remains consistent throughout and once more it’s Winston who hits the juvenile nail on its dream-addled, sex-obsessed head. 'Oh you’re such a child! Such a self-centred, egotistical child!'" – Stephen L. Holland, Page 45
• Review: "I believe that the Drunken Dream collection of stories lays the groundwork for measuring all of the wonderful components of girls’ comics. It’s a heck of a yardstick, I’ll tell you that.... It’s impossible to read through these panels and not feel your own life in them — and that’s why Hagio is such a brilliant writer. Shoujo manga is all about feelings, and Hagio is the master of feelings. The Queen of Feelings. THE EMPRESS OF FEELINGS.... I had never heard of the 24 Year Group before reading this anthology, but I feel like my life has been dramatically enriched by this collection. I want to buy three copies of it so that I can loan 2 to new people and have a back up loan copy for the eventual time when one of them gets stolen." – NOVI Magazine
• Commentary: At The Creators Project, Emerson Rosenthal talks to our own Larry Reid for an article on "the rise of DIY publishing and the revival of the printed word": "'The "Great Recession" forced us to get better with design if anything […] what you’re getting is a better looking book, more sustainable, and cheaper on the shelf. If anything, it’s a better product,' says Reid. 'At the same time, the self-bound ‘zine is definitely on the rebound.'"
In this month's issue of Booklist you can find reviews of three of our recent releases, excerpted below:
Bill Griffith: Lost and Found – Comics 1969-2003: "Prefaced by Griffith’s long, anecdotal accounting of his work and including stories featuring other characters who’d eventually join the strip’s cast as well as 48 pages in full color..., this collection attests the perdurable wit, style, and smarts of one of the greatest of the 1960s San Francisco underground cartoonists." – Ray Olson (Starred Review)
Athos in America by Jason: "What’s amazing is how much [Jason] can squeeze from so little. Though their emotional register usually falls somewhere between disappointment and death, the stories make an eclectic bunch.... Sure, Jason’s following his muse down the wormiest of rabbit holes these days, but you wouldn’t want him any less weird." – Ian Chipman
The Big Town by Monte Schulz: "It is as impressive as it is ponderous, and the maximalist mentality of overloaded historical detail is precisely what some will love and others will leave. Readers as taken by the era as Schulz is won’t find a bigger bonanza." – Ian Chipman
"Gilbert's stories are typically excellent in this issue, as he manages a certain luridness in one story that brings sexuality to the fore, and goes the other direction in a more oblique, subtle story. Of course, the story that got everyone buzzing was the second half of Jaime's "The Love Bunglers", which is an ending for this thirty-year cycle of stories--and one where Jaime sticks the landing with authority."
"This was Bagge's first feature-length Buddy Bradley story in years, and it's a doozy. Buddy, Lisa and young Harold visit Lisa's parents in a story called 'Hell,' and Bagge truly pulls out all the stops in depicting extreme familial weirdness. His dialogue is as sharp as ever, his line is quite lively and his uncanny ability to depict the creeping weirdness of suburbia is even more disturbing than in the initial run of New Jersey stories in Hate."
"Kupperman's 'Quincy, M.E.' story in this issue is a tour-de-force of twisting narrative structures and just plain crazy silliness. Kupperman's art has become increasingly bland as his aesthetic references have changed from 1920s comic strips to 1950s comic books, forcing the reader to perform double-takes at the crazy juxtapositions he creates. If his comics aren't as visually exhausting and exciting as they once were, he still provides an avalanche of ideas and jokes for the reader to sort through."
• Review: "Norwegian cartoonist Jason has returned with more full-color stories populated by lonely, and at times sociopathic, anthropomorphic characters. Cats, dogs, and ducks steal, fight, murder, and drink themselves into oblivion. Although brimming with black humor, the tales are far from ridiculous; the disjunction between the cute creatures and their actions often serves to highlight the despair inherent in their lives. Text is light, as the images drive the narratives. In these spare, mute panels, infused with flat oranges, greens, and browns, small movements covey great meaning and emotion.... Visually exciting, at times hilarious and at times devastating, Athos in America will only add to Jason’s well-deserved reputation as a star of the graphic novel world." – Publishers Weekly
• Review: "This volume [Amazing Mysteries: The Bill Everett Archives Vol. 1] provides an illuminating look at the artist’s numerous attempts at catching Sub-Marineresque lightning in a bottle for a second time, a task that mostly eluded him. The comics studios of the golden age were product mills that threw any idea against the wall in hope it would stick, and Everett did much the same. Forgotten sci-fi and superhero creations, as well as forays into westerns, historical retellings, and crime comics, populate this loaded volume, which reads like it fell straight out of some four-color twilight zone." – Publishers Weekly
• Review: "Over 150 pages of reprints, a brilliant back-of-the-book by Benson running 26 pages, and an introduction by my old buddy, cartoonist/historian Jay Lynch..., this book is a welcome addition to any comics library.... [I]f nothing else, The Sincerest Form of Parody saves you a lot of time separating the wheat from the chaff. But in and of itself, it is a very worthy book – entertaining on his own, and critical from a historical point of view. You should check this one out..." – Mike Gold, ComicMix
• Review: "[Jordan] Crane’s comic, The Last Lonely Saturday, explores the trials and release of life after loss. Crane’s story beautifully follows a husband’s weekly ritual to pay respect to his wife. In no more than a few pages, Crane retells the husband and wife’s entire history. From the comic’s meticulous book design, with its quaint size and the rounded, hand-lettered type in the first pages, readers can expect the story to be heart-warming. But Crane pulls at readers’ heartstrings with surprising grace. While the story is rooted in the traditional American cliché of lovers reunited in the afterlife, the story is told deftly." – Juan Fernandez, The Tartan (via Robot 6)
• Review: "[Freeway] captures the frustration of being stuck in traffic, particularly the array of images (violent and otherwise) that traffic brings to my mind (even better than Falling Down). Like me, Alex also relieves his frustrations with a lot of swearing." – Gene Ambaum, The Unshelved Book Club
• Plug: "I ran into animator Michel Gagné at the Annie Awards last week (where he picked up an Annie for Best Video Game, Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet) and asked him about his next project. Turns out Gagne had been toiling on a labor of love (literally) that has just gone on sale this week.... That book, Young Romance: the Best of Simon & Kirby’s Romance Comics, is not the usual thing we endorse here at Cartoon Brew – but as a life-long Jack Kirby fan and oddball comic book buff, this project is right up my alley.... I’ve ordered my copy and highly recommend it, sight unseen. Thanks, Michel!" – Jerry Beck, Cartoon Brew
• Plug: "Joe Simon and Jack Kirby created Captain America but they literally created the romance comic genre. The pages [of Young Romance] were packed with dialogue and dramatic art as women fought for love." – Will Harris, KOMO News