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Category >> staff

Dilbert: Let's You and Him Fight!
Written by Eric Reynolds | Filed under staffoffice funKim ThompsonGary Grothcomic strips 1 Mar 2011 12:25 PM

   

Last week, Amazon.com temporarily reduced the price of our $125 Gahan Wilson: 50 Years of Playboy Cartoons to a ridiculously low $30. Several prominent folks, including our old pal Neil Gaiman, tweeted and/or blogged about it, and at one point on Monday night, the book had risen to #16 on Amazon's sales charts for ALL books, and to #1 in the bargain books category. Somehow, this led to the following actual, real email exchange about the comic strip Dilbert. A week later, the debate rages on. In other words: Just Another Week at Fantagraphics Books.

Kim Thompson wrote:

That Bargain Books section is pretty sweet sometimes. I just bought an $85 DILBERT supercollection for the office for twenty-two bucks. (Yes, I love DILBERT. I know most cartoonists can't get past the art, but it's funny as hell.)

Eric Reynolds wrote:

LA LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU!

Gary Groth wrote:

Oh my fucking God.

Kim Thompson wrote:

Read [Scott Adams'] blog, which is unencumbered by his godawful art. He's the sharpest comedy writer in comic strips.

Tell me if this one doesn't make you laugh: http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/1996-03-27/

Eric Reynolds wrote:

Sorry.

Gary Groth wrote:

I hope yer joking. It's too late to look for a new partner.

Jacob Covey wrote:

What's weird is Kim and Eric haven't ever worked in one of those godawful Dilbert cubical jobs to my knowledge.

Gary Groth wrote:

I bet I've worked in more shitty jobs -including "cubicle" jobs- than everyone here. I hate Dilbert and don't think it's funny. It's humor that's calculated to make working in cubicles more palatable.

Kim Thompson wrote:

I think you're all going by a vision of DILBERT of like 20 years ago. (Newsflash, DOONESBURY isn't about a bunch of college students arguing any more either.) It's blossomed into a relentless examination of deception and self-delusion in the workplace and beyond, based on the premise that 90% of actions taken are taken for reasons that are selfish, idiotic, or both, and boiling them down to their most basic absurdities.

Gary Groth wrote:

That's the problem: the strip is essentially gutless, so generic and so absent specificity as to be meaningless. Selfishness, sloth, and idiocy are its constant (easy) targets -vices to which no one can object- and executed in such a cutesy, innocuous way that they prompt a reflexively knowing and self-satisfied smirk.

The strip you linked to perfectly encapsulates the strip's modus operandi of recapitulating the Peter Principle in the most banal way imaginable. It reflects, regurgitates, and therefore flatters the reader's own "insight" on the workplace and panders to his sense of superiority to the bureaucracy he serves (or is served by).

The problem with the Doonesbury analogy is that Doonesbury was good. (Plus, you're ten years off: the college stuff took place 30 years ago.)

Kim Thompson wrote:

It's true that Adams is fundamentally pro-business (in the sense that many military comedies are actually pro-Army) but the idea that he's an agent of Satan intent on narcotizing the cubicle workers is hippy-dippy talk, unless you adhere to the notion that any blowing off of steam (e.g. laughter) just delays the inevitable revolution when workers will throw off their shackles and string up the man.

Gary Groth wrote:

That's a Dilbert-ish response, which suggests that its flattening perspective is contagious. Pop entertainment doesn't have to be anti-revolutionary in a hippy-dippy Marxist 1970s kinda way in order to be nauseating, status-quo supportive crap. The fact that it's not single handedly holding back a revolution that will never come just makes it more insidious. The rank ad file would remain narcoticized if Dilbert didn't exist, but its existence sure doesn't hurt.

Eric Reynolds wrote:

Irresistible force, meet immovable object.

Kim Thompson wrote:

Wait, when did Kenneth Smith start sending me emails signed "GG"?

This is the kind of apocalyptic society-is-doomed rant critics will periodically unleash on more or less harmless pop-culture successes which I genuinely can't take seriously enough to respond to. If you're going to go medieval on any work of (to stretch the definition to a breaking point in DILBERT's case, admittedly) art that rests on the foundation that in theory capitalism might be an OK system, then it's a bit like criticizing rock music from the point of view that electric guitars are pure evil.

I did get the DOONESBURY timeline wrong. Time flies!

Gary Groth wrote:

I am not asking for every comic strip to be an Adorno-esque revolutionary screed, but if the whole purpose of the strip is to comment on contemporary economic and commercial life, it's hardly asking too much to invest the work with a degree of conscience or acuity and not serve as a hypocritical feel-good bromide for a mindless status quo that it celebrates and criticizes at the same time.

Mostly, though, it's just lame - as any humor would inevitably be if it's foundation is based on social arrangements being "OK" (or, as I would put it, hunky dory). What a concept!

Anyway, I get it. Pop culture and -especially billion dollar pop culture successes- are harmless and criticizing them on political or moral grounds is going "medieval," because, y'know, they're, like, harmless and don't mean anything and why don't I chill out and sit back and take it easy for God's sake.

I consider it a success whenever I can elicit a dig at Ken Smith.

Kim Thompson wrote:

It's a hypocritical feel-good bromide that postulates that pretty much everyone in the world is a selfish idiot and all personal and professional interaction spirals inevitably into entropy? By what standards, compared to SHOAH?

Any humor that is not based on a socialistic view of the world is ipso facto lame?

Any pointed examination of human behavior within a certain context/matrix is invalid unless it fundamentally challenges that context/matrix? (E.g., the HURT LOCKER conundrum.)

It's possible there is a middle ground between apocalyptic doom-laden rants and dismissing-as-utterly-harmless, but this would require living in a non-Manichean world which, as we know from Mister A (or Rorschach), is a craven compromise with the forces of evil.

I think there is plenty of pop culture that is insidious and subtly destructive, and that's worth pointing out (although perhaps not quite so Howard Beale-ishly), but I also think it's possible to overreach and I think it can be morally dubious and qualitatively good at the same time. Sometimes I begin to suspect that ALL good art (or decent entertainment) is actually morally dubious at best.

Eric Reynolds wrote:

This could be the greatest critical roundtable in tcj.com history.

Gary Groth wrote:

• Kim was the first to cite capitalism and is, now, the first to cite socialism. There's a Manichean world view on display here, but not mine.

• Reading Wilde's paradoxical dictum on moral and immoral art literally always leads to trouble.

• There is a long list of morally dubious great art - RiefenstahlPoundCeline, the usual suspects- because their aesthetic virtues trump their moral vices or at least can be appreciated while holding one's nose. Unfortunately, Dilbert has no aesthetic virtues at all; its observations of the human condition are art-free and, not to put too fine a point on it, but we have both been too polite to mention what a visual eyesore it is even among the visually desiccated ranks of today's newspaper strips.

• I wondered why images of Dilbert flitted through my head when I was watching Shoah last week.

• A pointed examination would have to be just that - pointed.

• Postulating (postulating?) day after day and year after year that pretty much everyone in the world is a selfish idiot and all personal and professional interaction spirals inevitably into entropy devolves rapidly into a one-dimensional, reductive and even dishonest schtick (because not everyone in the world is a selfish idiot and all personal and professional interactions don't spiral into entropy - or do they? Maybe I'm behind the curve on this one) that's numbing in its repetitiveness and simple-mindedness. Even savage critiques of the way we live -think Face in the Crowd of Elmer Gantry- feature real human beings with whom we can empathize and who refuse to sink into nihilism and entropy. Dilbert isn't pointed, isn't a critique, isn't an examination - it's a relentless of glib, shallow cliches about office politics and managerial ineptitude that a million office drones could probably come up with if they just typed and scribbled long enough.

It has no juice, it has no fire. It's a sedative.

• Funny you should mention Network. A little shrill, sure, but at least it had guts and passion eloquence and a touch of humanity. Dilbert is just a load of crap.

Kim Thompson wrote:

Hey now, I take grave exception to the claim that we've been "too polite" to mention the hideousness of the art, I referred to "his godawful art" days ago, and then to Breathed "drawing better than Scott Adams, but everyone does, including Cathy Guisewite and 90% of the submissions in our slush pile."

I think we're played out on this. I'm not sure I can quite wrap my head around defending DILBERT against the charge of constituting, basically, "feel-good nihilism" although it sounds like a great genre. If Barnes & Noble had a section for "feel-good nihilism" I'd make a beeline for it every time, and not just for the DILBERT books.

Gary Groth wrote:

"Feel good nihilism" has ben a post-modern genre for years and has its own section in B&N. Where've you been?

You're right, you mentioned the hideous art e-mails ago; but in my defense, it cannot be said too much or too often.

Look, I know right at this moment, at 10:59 PM at the end of a grueling Tuesday, you believe that Dilbert is a not only a laff riot, but a shrewd, pointed exercise in sociological observation, but take my word for it just this once - it is a a piece of shit. There are issues facing us that are legitimately open to debate - should we have national health care, should we be landing troops on Libya, is Ditko as good as Kirby? - but this is not one of them.

Dilbert is the antithesis of everything Fantagraphics stands for - believe it, baby.

Kim Thompson wrote:

As in most cases, I am right and you are wrong.

DILBERT is not a sociological observation. It's (for the most part) an ongoing exercise in analyzing how something that is theoretically sensible and logical (corporate business structures built to produce things and make money) is undone by human nature (stupidity, selfishness, cowardice, etc.) to actually consistently do the opposite of what it's intended to achieve. One could argue equally convincingly that it's a paean to capitalism (laid low by its flawed practitioners) or a postmortem/condemnation of it (a system that doesn't take into account its practitioners is inherently doomed).

Leaving aside whether it's well drawn (it isn't) or well written (it is, a series of precise, almost haiku-like mockeries that remove any shred of humanity or individuality for pure conceptual humor), I can see where its adamant refusal to engage the moral or political underpinnings of capitalism or corporate culture might be infuriating for anyone who needs to strain his entertainment through his own sociopolitical colander of correctness. (Also the lack of humanity could be off-putting, I guess, if you're into the whole humanity thing.)

There's also the question as to whether it's funny or not, which is probably impossible to resolve because any sentence that starts off "This is not funny because..." is automatically meaningless.

Good debate! as Sean Hannity would say.

Did I mention I like ARLO AND JANIS too?

Gary Groth wrote:

Yes, once Dilbert is completely divorced from the historic/political/cultural/economic context that it clearly inhabits and exploits and after that pesky "humanity thing" is expunged from the equation and he strip is neatly turned into an abstraction (or "pure conceptual humor" you've really got something there.

Are you sure Scott Adams isn't a pseudonym for "Watson"? The results couldn't be appreciably different.

Kim Thompson wrote:

Er, uh, what?

Gary Groth:

No fair! That was going to be my opening argument against Arlo and Janis.

POLL QUESTION:

'Con Artists' Party at the Jewel Box Following the Emerald City Comicon
Written by Larry Reid | Filed under staffrockPeter BaggeFantagraphics Bookstoreevents 25 Feb 2011 11:00 AM

Con Artists flyer

Northwest residents won't want to miss out on the action after the Emerald City Comicon in Seattle on Saturday, March 5. Captain Kirk, Riker, Data, Crusher... hell — half the crew of the Enterprise will be guests at the convention. After the convention, beam yourself down to the Jewel Box Theater at the Rendezvous for the fabulous "Con Artists" concert. The show is FREE with convention credentials.

The party opens with a solo music set by Matthew Southworth, co-creator of Stumptown (with convention guest Greg Rucka.) Before concentrating on his comics career, Southworth made a splash with the Capillaries. Also on the bill is Peter Bagge's Can You Imagine? Bagge will be at the con on Saturday, and will entertain revelers at the Jewel Box with his pop combo featuring legendary musician and producer Steve Fisk. The festivities conclude with a set by the Rheas, fronted by our dreamy associate publisher Eric Reynolds. The lovely Janice Headley will spin spacey platters, and the Rendezvous, located at 2322 in Seattle's lively Belltown neighborhood, features fantastic food and affordable drinks. 21 and over with ID.

A limited number of advance tickets to the convention are still available at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery at 1201 S. Vale Street. Phone 206.658.0110. See you soon.

Daily OCD: 2/22/11
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under staffreviewsMomeJosh SimmonsJoe DalyEdward GoreyDaily OCDAlexander Theroux 22 Feb 2011 4:34 PM

Today's Online Commentary & Diversions:

Dungeon Quest, Book 2

Review: "Anyone who ever got into fantasy role-playing games during their early adolescence no doubt remembers how those early forays into heroic adventuring could be fraught with profane characters, ludicrous moments during breaks from the quest at hand, and the strange, often puerile creations of a hormonally charged dungeon master. All of those elements fuel the entertaining world that Daly drops readers into with [Dungeon Quest Book 2]... There are encounters with monsters, violent battles, magical items to be gathered, eerie dungeons, and so on, but we are also treated to a hilarious bit where the characters get zooted on weed and cocaine while spouting drug-appropriate dialogue. With a visual style that’s a gene-splicing of Charles Burns’s Lynchian creepiness with an 'underground' sensibility, this quirky work is every bit as entertaining as it sounds, spouting anarchic humor in every direction." – Publishers Weekly

The Strange Case of Edward Gorey [Expanded Hardcover Edition]

Interview: The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon talks to Alexander Theroux about the new edition of his book The Strange Case of Edward Gorey: "Gary [Groth] asked me to expand on the paperback. I didn't know I was going to add to that. I originally typed that manuscript. I got the paperback on-line, and started to see where I would expand it. That's why it's occasionally repetitious. If there was a paragraph on what Gorey collected, I would build on that for the hardcover. So we never really foresaw that it was going to be a much longer book. But once I got the bit between my teeth in looking at him, I had remembered a lot of things and interviewed a lot of people... it just builds. Since the hardcover has come out, I had about 20 new thoughts about him. Recollections, new things, that come every day."

Murder by High Tide: Gil Jordan, Private Eye [June 2011]  Sibyl-Anne Vs. Ratticus [June 2011]

Interview: At Words Without Borders, the Amazon-supported Online Magazine for International Literature, Dot Lin talks to our own beloved Co-Publisher Kim Thompson about our line of Franco-Belgian all-ages comics: "I don't know how they'll be greeted by American audiences, but I'm in a position now where I can force them down people's throats. The fact that I seem to have succeeded with Tardi where everyone else failed has made me a bit cocky, I'm afraid."

Mome Vol. 19 - Summer 2010

Interview: The Comics Journal presents the second part of Ian Burns's Q&A with Shaun Partridge, writer of the Josh Simmons-drawn Mome serial "The White Rhinoceros": "Me and Josh, we always know something is good when we feel we didn’t do it. When I do a painting, if I look at the painting and go, 'That’s a cool painting! Oh! I did that! How weird.' That’s when I know it’s good and that’s why I think we know The White Rhino is really good. I’m connected to it in a way. I am. I wrote it; Josh is illustrating it. But we stand back from it and we’re like, 'Wow, this is really far out and fun.' And we just laugh."

Things to See: 2/21/11 Roundup
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Usagi YojimboTom KaczynskiTim HensleyThings to seeSteven WeissmanSteve BrodnerStan SakaistaffSergio PonchioneRenee FrenchNoah Van SciverMatthias LehmannMark KalesnikoMarco CoronaLilli CarréLaura ParkKevin HuizengaJosh SimmonsJasonGipiFrank SantoroDash ShawAndrice Arp 21 Feb 2011 10:51 PM

Stan Talks to Usagi

• This strip by Stan Sakai showing himself interviewing his creation Usagi Yojimbo is so damn cute I'm sharing it even though it was posted on the blog of our rival publisher Dark Horse. Heck, rival schmival, buy Usagi no matter who puts it out! It's Usagi!

Obama - Jason T. Miles

Happy Presidents Day from our own Jason T. Miles

Marching Band - Lilli Carré

A glimpse at her story in Mome Vol. 21 from Lilli Carré

Lucy Parsons comic

• Pick up the new issue of Bitch magazine for a one page comic about Lucy Parsons by Laura Park

Polyp

A mess of collaborative drawings by Andrice Arp and friends

http://www.fantagraphics.com/images/flog/mike/201102/wg_covered_meyer.jpg

At Covered, it's Tim Hensley's Wally Gropius done Action Comics #1-style by Jeffrey Meyer

And more Things to See from the past week:

• A new illustration from Matthias Lehmann at his Bloc-Notes blog

• Strips, illustrations and film reviews by Jason at his Cats Without Dogs blog

Steven Weissman's latest "I, Anonymous" spot on his Chewing Gum in Church blog

Landscapes in airbrush and pen from Frank Santoro

• Recent timely sketches & illustrations by Marco Corona at his Il Canguro Pugilatore blog

• More artwork from Mark Kalesniko's new graphic novel Freeway at his blog — dang a lot of work went into that book

• A page from a Kevin Huizenga "Focus" book at his New Construction blog

Noah Van Sciver has a Bad Dream and translates a ghost story to video

New sketches & strips by Laura Park

The latest from Renee French

• The final batch of sketches from the "21" sketchbook at Splog!, the Sergio Ponchione Lost Objects Gallery blog

Sketches, portraits, & updates from Steve Brodner

Gipi still illustrates for Internazionale

• A nattily dressed forlorn monstrosity and a portrait of collaborator Shaun Partridge by Josh Simmons

• Daily drawings from Dash Shaw at The Ruined Cast blog

• Recent sketches by Tom Kaczynski at his Transatlantis blog

Things to See: 2/14/11 Roundup
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Wilfred SantiagoTony MillionaireThings to seeSteve BrodnerstaffSophie CrumbSergio PonchioneRenee FrenchNoah Van SciverMark KalesnikoMarco CoronaLaura ParkKevin HuizengaJosh SimmonsJohn HankiewiczJim BlanchardJasonHans RickheitEleanor DavisDash Shaw 14 Feb 2011 4:44 PM

http://www.fantagraphics.com/images/flog/mike/201102/nodoctors_cd.jpg

• Magnificent new album cover illustration by Tony Millionaire

OUTSIDE THE BONES

• Wonderfully lurid book cover illustration by Wilfred Santiago for Outside the Bones by Lyn Di Iorio

http://www.fantagraphics.com/images/flog/mike/201102/nite1.jpg

• Tributes to St. Ogan and more sketching by Kevin Huizenga at STL Drawing Club and New Construction

http://www.fantagraphics.com/images/flog/mike/201102/thenosehead.jpg

Renee French, still great on a daily basis

http://www.fantagraphics.com/images/flog/mike/201102/skbkfeb11.jpg

• New sketches & watercolors by Sophie Crumb

http://www.fantagraphics.com/images/flog/mike/201102/february10th.jpg

• I'm at a loss to describe this by Josh Simmons

Bush Sr.

Jason T. Miles continues his hall of laughing Presidents

http://www.fantagraphics.com/images/flog/mike/201102/oliver%20reed%20blog1.jpg

Oliver Reed by Jim Blanchard

And more Things to See from the past week:

• Strips, illustrations and film reviews by Jason at his Cats Without Dogs blog

A page from a forthcoming comic by John Hankiewicz

• Sketches by Marco Corona at his Il Canguro Pugilatore blog

• More artwork from Mark Kalesniko's new graphic novel Freeway and drawings of stylish girls at his blog

Noah Van Sciver's "Throbbing Head"

New sketches & strips by Laura Park

• Another great batch of sketches at Splog!, the Sergio Ponchione Lost Objects Gallery blog

Sketches, portraits, & updates from Steve Brodner

• Daily drawings from Dash Shaw at The Ruined Cast blog

Hans Rickheit attempts to capture a Cochlea & Eustachia catfight

• Sketches and prints by Eleanor Davis at her We Be Ouija blog

Things to See: 2/7/11 Roundup
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Things to seeSteven WeissmanSteve BrodnerstaffSergio PonchioneRichard SalaRenee FrenchNoah Van SciverMatthias LehmannMarco CoronaLaura ParkJim FloraJim BlanchardJasonHans RickheitDerek Van GiesonDash ShawDame Darcy 7 Feb 2011 11:51 PM

http://www.fantagraphics.com/images/flog/mike/201102/bride-copy.jpg

Some magazine illustrations from Richard Sala's archives

http://www.fantagraphics.com/images/flog/mike/201102/reaganw.jpg

Ronald Wilson Reagan by our own Jason T. Miles

http://www.fantagraphics.com/images/flog/mike/201102/keystonecrowd.jpg

• A previously unseen Jim Flora piece at the Jim Flora Art blog

http://www.fantagraphics.com/images/flog/mike/201102/chickenlittle%20blog1.jpg

Jim Blanchard did this custom-painted Chicken Little figurine a few years ago

http://www.fantagraphics.com/images/flog/mike/201102/oldstrangerstrip1.jpg

An older Chrome Fetus strip by Hans Rickheit that has been excised from his upcoming Folly collection

And more Things to See from the past week:

• New illustrations from Matthias Lehmann at his Bloc-Notes blog

• Various strips and illustrations by Jason at his Cats Without Dogs blog

Steven Weissman's latest "I, Anonymous" spot on his Chewing Gum in Church blog

• The latest Dame Darcy artwork and handicrafts in her latest blog update

• A new illustration by Marco Corona at his Il Canguro Pugilatore blog

A tale of the cartoonist's life from Noah Van Sciver

Laura Park sketches a snowy Chicago street

• Another great batch of sketches at Splog!, the Sergio Ponchione Lost Objects Gallery blog

New drawings from Renee French

Sketches, portraits, & updates from Steve Brodner

• Daily drawings from Dash Shaw at The Ruined Cast blog

• New sketches & strips from Derek Van Gieson at his These Days I Remain blog

Things to See: Yo Gabba Gabba! fan art by Eric Reynolds
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Things to seestaff 1 Feb 2011 4:43 PM

Yo Gabba Gabba!

Our own Eric Reynolds sketched up Muno, Plex, Brobee, Toodee & Foofa as a coloring page for his adorable daughter Clem and posted it on his Flickr page so you can download a high-res version and print it out for your kids too (Eric notes you might want to white out the word bubble first). Fun!

Craig Maynard: 1958-2010
Written by Kim Thompson | Filed under staffFantagraphics history 24 Jan 2011 1:09 PM

Craig Maynard

It is with great sadness that we have learned, and feel we should pass along, that one of the members of the Fantagraphics family died last year. CRAIG MAYNARD, who worked on staff here in Seattle in the early 1990s, passed away last September and we just learned about it from his family (through a reply to a rerouted Christmas card).

Craig had been suffering from a number of debilitating illnesses for years and the news was not exactly a shock, but all of us from that era who worked with Craig (Gary G. and me, of course, and also Dale Yarger, Pat Moriarity, Roberta Gregory, Michelle Byrd, Jim Blanchard, Frank Young, among others) were still saddened.

Craig, who worked in the production department doing design and paste-up (as well as lettering — a number of our earlier, pre-digital-font foreign-translated EROS books feature spectacular Maynard lettering) was a delightfully upbeat, energetic presence in the office, with a guffaw that would rattle the windows. A fine cartoonist in his own right, he channeled his experiences and concerns as a proudly out gay man into a handful of EROS comics, including the off-the-hook outrageous LEATHERBOY and the furious, despairing one-shot UP FROM BONDAGE ("a powerful example of politically conscious homoerotica," a critic rightly called it at the time).

But like many others who knew and loved Craig, I prefer to remember him for "Minor Memories and the Art of Adolescence," a series of beautifully-realized, touching autobiographical short stories that graced the pages of PRIME CUTS and GRAPHIC STORY MONTHLY. (We have posted a sample story here.) Sadly his illnesses put an end to his cartooning career as such (he eventually became literally unable to hold a brush or pen), leaving an ambitious project he had been working on unfinished.

Craig deserved far, far better from life than he got, and those of us who knew and loved him were and are humbled by his fortitude and perseverance in the face of adversity. We are grateful for the time we had with him — fortunately much of it in better times, as the accompanying photo shows (thanks to Jim Blanchard) — and he will be missed.

[Update: For more, read Tom Spurgeon's excellent obituary at The Comics Reporter. – Ed.]

Minor Memories and the Art of Adolescence - Craig Maynard
(Click to continue reading.)

Daily OCD: 1/5/11
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Usagi YojimboStan SakaistaffreviewsPeanutsMoto HagiomangaLove and RocketsJoe DalyJasonJaime HernandezJacques TardiDaily OCDCharles M SchulzCarl BarksBlazing CombatBest of 2010 5 Jan 2011 4:20 PM

Today's Online Commentary & Diversions:

List: David Wolkin names some memorable comics he read this year:

It Was the War of the Trenches

"It hurts to read [It Was the War of the Trenches], but Jacques Tardi’s renderings are still quite beautiful as far as I’m concerned, which makes the whole thing that much more painful."

Blazing Combat [Softcover Ed.]

"Blazing Combat blew my mind. [...] The only thing this book has to say is that war is always terrible and people always die... Most of the stories are written by Archie Goodwin, but are duties are handled by a whole mess of the greats, including John Severin, Gene Colan, Wally Wood and Alex Toth, Goddamn Alex Toth. This book is worth buying just for the 3-4 Toth stories."

(The following 6 links are via Sandy Bilus at I Love Rob Liefeld:)

A Drunken  Dream and Other Stories [Pre-Order]

List/Review: "Notable shoujo mention: A Drunken Dream and Other Stories by Moto Hagio... There is fantastic imagery, and fantastic stories. [...] As a translation and publishing choice, I commend Fantagraphics. For anyone who wants to read what is considered to be a classic gem of shojo then this is it." – Anime Diet (see also their review)

List: Melinda Beasi of Manga Bookshelf names A Drunken Dream and Other Stories one of the two Best Classic Manga of 2010: "...Moto Hagio’s collection of short manga... focus[es] particularly on issues of family, delving deep into some of the ugliest impulses of our biological tribes and the damage they can do to their least valued members..."

List: Patrick Markfort of Articulate Nerd counts down his top 10 Favorite Comics of 2010:

Complete Peanuts Boxed Set 1975-1978 [NORTH AMERICA ONLY]

"7. The Complete Peanuts 1975-1976, The Complete Peanuts 1977-1978, by Charles M. Schulz... After the fascinating early years of the strip in the 50's and its evolution and refinement into one of the all-time great strips in the 60's, it was a delight to rediscover these wonderful 70's strips, which to my mind strike a perfect balance between the ever present serious and silly sensibilities of Peanuts. Schulz's life's work is all things to all people, with a cuteness and sweetness on the surface, a razor sharp wit just underneath, and depths of poetry and sadness at its heart.  The Platonic ideal of a comic strip."

A Drunken  Dream and Other Stories [Pre-Order]

"5. A Drunken Dream and Other Stories, by Moto Hagio – I've been waiting years for someone to publish something by Moto Hagio, and I was not disappointed in the slightest by this book. In fact, I loved everything about it, from the drop-dead gorgeous design work by Adam Grano, to the fine selection of stories by editor Matt Thorn, to the reprint of Thorn's definitive interview with Moto Hagio... None of this would mean much if the stories weren't any good, of course. Fortunately, they're exceptional. These exquisitely drawn short narratives across a variety of genres spanning Hagio's decades-long career are terrific reads in and of themselves, and provide a fascinating glimpse into a tradition of comics-making we've still seen very little of. More like this, please."

Love and Rockets: New Stories #3 [with FREE Signed Bookplate]

"1. 'Browntown' and 'The Love Bunglers, Parts One and Two,' by Jaime Hernandez, from Love and Rockets: New Stories #3 - Jaime Hernandez is my favorite living cartoonist, and these short stories, which MUST be read in conjunction with each other, are my favorite thing he's ever done. What a thrill to witness first hand the publication of a certain All Time Great Comics Work from an artist whose place in the canon is secured ten times over. [...] Read my full review of Love and Rockets: New Stories #3 here."

List: "Love and Rockets New Stories #3 – [...] Jaime has this wonderful gift to make his characters seem real and natural. It’s been almost 30 years that he’s been writing and drawing the stories of Maggie and Hopey but they feel more like old friends now than ever before." – Scott Cederlund, Wednesday's Haul, "The Best of 2010"

Usagi Yojimbo: The Special Edition [Pre-Order]

List: "A giant, two volume hardcover edition with a solid slipcase, this excellent collection [Usagi Yojimbo: The Special Edition] features the first seven volumes of the series and a ton of extra content. Probably the most beautiful book on this list." – Aaron Colter, Fearing Americans, "The Best Comics of 2010"

Dungeon Quest, Book 1

List: "Best Pop Culture Satire: [...] An award winning comic that made me laugh out loud a little too much while reading at the local cafe. [...] Full of shamans, reanimated pirate skeletons and hysterical pop culture nods, Dungeon Quest Book One is one of my favorite pieces of comic satire to come out in a long time." – Ian Gonzales, Unwinnable, "The Best Comic Books of 2010"

List: At The Forbidden Planet International Blog Log, the contributor identified only as Michael places Jason's Werewolves of Montpellier on his top 3 Best of the Year: "...[A]s usual Jason’s art is beautiful in its very unusual style with super thick line work and flat and bright colouring. The story is more of a drama, which again is a change from the usual comedy route and the addition of a romance sub-plot makes this book one of Jason’s most complex and best."

The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec Vol. 1: Pterror Over Paris and The Eiffel Tower Demon [Pre-Order]

Review: "Jacques Tardi's Adèle Blanc-Sec is a longtime favorite French anti-heroine... The over-the-top parody of the monster-hunting adventurer, combined with a whiff of innate French superiority to the source material, ...may appeal to the extremely casual reader of comics, or one with deep knowledge and interest, but probably not to a reader who enjoys picking up the latest zombie comic." – Mike Rhode, Washington City Paper

Reynolds by Jim Blanchard

Survey: The Beat's year-end/looking-forward survey of comics pros (part three) includes incisive commentary from our own Eric Reynolds

Carl Barks

Coming Attractions: More reporting & commentary on our Carl Barks news from MTV Geek and Ambrosia (in Portuguese)
Daily OCD: 12/30/10
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under staffreviewsNewaveMoto HagioMomeMichael KuppermanmangaLove and RocketsLos Bros HernandezJoyce Farmerhooray for HollywoodDash ShawDaily OCDBest of 2010 30 Dec 2010 3:18 PM

Today's Online Commentary & Diversions:

List: At Entertainment Weekly, Ken Tucker names The 10 Best Graphic Novels and Comics of 2010, including:

A Drunken  Dream and Other Stories [Pre-Order]

"Ostensibly Japanese comics aimed at the adolescent-girl market, these so-called Ten Stories of the Human Heart are lush mixtures of dreamlike imagery and realistic depictions of young people’s yearnings, hopes, reveries, and fears. Gathering representative work from four decades of publication, A Drunken Dream [and Other Stories] exerts a hypnotic pull on the reader, Moto Hagio knows both her commercial audience and her ideal audience — which is to say, the world."

Special Exits [Pre-Order]

"A long-form narrative about the decline of her parents’ health, Special Exits avoids cheap pity and piousness by doing what any good art should: focusing on specifics — the ways in which Farmer’s parents slide into old age and ill health; the care they require and receive. That this is also a portrait of a strong marriage is an added benefit. Frank, never shying away from the awkward indignities of aging, Special Exits illuminates two lives, as well as that of the author’s."

Love and Rockets: New Stories #3 [with FREE Signed Bookplate]

List: Comic Book Resources ranks Love and Rockets: New Stories #3 in the 7th spot on their Ten Best Comics of 2010:

"The best volume since Los Bros went with this yearly anthology, New Stories #3 has exemplary work from both, but Jamie's story of the young Hoppers is one of his best comics ever." – Timothy Callahan

"Love and Rockets properly hits its stride and the two brothers use their unique approach to do something quite insane. Surrealism and realism in equal doses." – Sonia Harris

"This year, I read nearly every comic ever created by Los Bros Hernandez; what a pleasure to discover at the end of my immersion that their two most recent comics are also two of their best, and thus two of the best comics by anyone. Gilbert and Jaime both tear furiously into love and sex; what they find inside is ugly; what they do with it is beautiful. I'll never forget that panel." – Sean T. Collins

Review: "Is there a comic that's run longer than Love and Rockets and maintained the same level of quality? ...[T]his year's annual is as good or better than anything Los Bros. have yet produced. It starts off with a strange sci-fi story — fans will recognize this as one of Rosalba 'Fritz' Martinez's many B-movies, but you don't have to be in on the gag to find Gilbert's story weird and funny and disturbing. Jaime's contribution to the volume is a story about would-be couple Maggie and Ray having a first date, with an interstitial tale about Maggie's childhood that sheds heartbreaking light on her relationship with her brother. ...Los Bros. are plain-spoken and sympathetic, finding pathos in even the grimiest character." – Sam Thielman, Newsday

Newave! The Underground Mini Comix of the 1980s

List: Josh Blair of Candy or Medicine names Newave: The Underground Mini Comix of the 1980s one of the Top Ten Mini Comics of 2010: "Ok, ok, I realize this isn't actually a mini-comic, rather than a gigantic collection of mini-comics, but it's definitely a book worth owning."

Tales Designed to Thrizzle #6

List: Brian Cronin of CBR's Comics Should Be Good chooses Tales Designed to Thrizzle #6 as the first entry on his Top Ten Comic of 2010 countdown: "Another hilarious issue by Michael Kupperman."

Mome Vol. 20 - Fall 2010

Interview: At The Comics Journal, part 2 of Chris Mautner's Q&A with Mome editor Eric Reynolds (part 1):  "I’m not a real ballbuster when it comes to deadlines from issue to issue, so I’ll invite people to contribute and they’ll take their time, whether they hit the next issue or the following issue. They’re just juggling all these things, and it happens to come together every issue."

Dash Shaw artwork from Rabbit Hole

Analysis: At Cinematical, John Gholson examines the role of Dash Shaw's comic artwork in John Cameron Mitchell's new film Rabbit Hole