We are overjoyed to welcome two prodigal sons back to the Fantagraphics fold: Mike Catron (pictured), who co-founded Fantagraphics with Gary Groth in 1976, rejoins us as an editor, and O.G. staffer Preston White returns to our art department.
The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon has all the scoop, and he also talked with Mike about what his new position entails and what he's been up to in the meantime: "So all of a sudden, the original four of us are together again, like the fabled Musketeers. (Everyone does know there were four, right?) The stars, after all these years, finally aligned once more. Call it the new Age of Aquarius for Fantagraphics." He also reveals his first major editorial project for us, a book which hasn't been revealed or reported elsewhere! Truly your must-read for the day.
FUNNY VALENTINES: A TRIBUTE TO JACK DAVIS Group art exhibition opens February 11 at Fantagraphics Bookstore
Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery celebrates the legacy of legendary artist Jack Davis with a group exhibition "Funny Valentines: A Tribute to Jack Davis" opening Saturday, February 11 from 6:00 to 9:00 PM. Davis is among the most influential American artists of his time. He created comics art for the seminal EC imprint and contributed to subversive magazines like MAD, as well as illustrating popular record albums, memorable movie posters, trading cards, mainstream magazines, and advertising campaigns.
Seattle-based Fantagraphics Books recently published the career retrospective Jack Davis: Drawing American Pop Culture. To commemorate the occasion, a stellar group of accomplished artists from diverse disciplines have created works demonstrating the influence of this prolific artist. Between 1959 and 1963 Davis drew four sets of "Funny Valentines" for the Topps trading card company. This series provided the inspiration the show featuring two-dozen contemporary cartoonists, illustrators, graphic designers, and fine artists. Exhibiting artists include Peter Bagge, Nikki Burch, Art Chantry, Tom Dougherty, Jesse Edwards, Ellen Forney, Art Garcia, Roberta Gregory, Charles Krafft, Jason T. Miles, Pat Moriarity, Tom Neely, Joe Newton, Ries Niemi, John Ohannesian, Augie Pagan, Eric Reynolds, Bob Rini, Johnny Ryan, Frank Santoro, SHAG, Matthew Southworth, and Jim Woodring. Original works by Jack Davis will also be displayed.
The opening reception on Saturday, February 11 promises to be a festive affair. Davis will appear at 6:30 PM via Skype from his home in Atlanta. Many exhibiting artists will also be present. A limited number of advance copies of Jack Davis: Drawing American Pop Culture will be available with a special signed bookplate. Please join us to pay homage to this extraordinary artist. This event coincides with the 4th anniversary installment of the colorful Georgetown Art Attack, featuring visual and performing arts presentations throughout the historic neighborhood.
FUNNY VALENTINES: A TRIBUTE TO JACK DAVIS
An exhibition featuring Peter Bagge, Nikki Burch, Art Chantry, Jack Davis, Tom Dougherty, Jesse Edwards, Ellen Forney, Art Garcia, Roberta Gregory, Charles Krafft, Jason T. Miles, Pat Moriarity, Tom Neely, Joe Newton, Ries Niemi, John Ohannesian, Augie Pagan, Eric Reynolds, Bob Rini, Johnny Ryan, Frank Santoro, SHAG, Matthew Southworth, and Jim Woodring.
Opening Reception Saturday, February 11, 6:00 to 9:00 PM
Hey look, photos I took at Tony Millionaire's "Portraits" art show & book signing at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery a couple weeks ago! It's always a blast when Tony's in town and we had a fantastic crowd for the event — thanks to everybody who came out! The show continues for a couple more weeks so get on down to see it.
Larry Reid introduces his masterful smash-hit short film "Everybody Loves Drinky Crow" as some DOOK DOOK DOOKing goes on:
A still from said film... drink, Drinky, drink!:
Surprise! Charles Burns was in town and made a guest appearance! Here he's chatting with Lynn Emmert & Eric Reynolds:
Fantagraphics' own Ian Burns gets in on the action and gets Tony's addition to his Animal sketchbook — you can see the finished product and a few more snaps from the evening on the blog of our own Stephanie Hayes:
A view of the exhibit — get a closer look at the artwork and see more photos from the evening on our Flickr page!
(Thanks to Janice for help with this post, including the headline!)
Over on the Abstract Comics blog, Andrei Molotiu has leaked word about The Last Vispo Anthology: Visual Poetry 1998 - 2008, edited by Crag Hill and Nico Vassilakis and to be published by us in Fall of next year. Above, "Emma," a piece by Nico which accompanied the news. Fantagraphics loyalists may also know Nico as our longtime warehouse/shipping manager, and we've long been proud to boast one of the foremost practitioners of visual poetry, a.k.a. vispo, on our staff, so this book is near and dear to our hearts. Vispo and abstract comics are related disciplines, so readers of our Abstract Comics anthology should definitely keep this on their radar. An announcement about this book is forthcoming, but we figured we'd share as long as the news is out there.
• Review: "Graphic novelist Richard Sala cures the zombie apocalypse malaise with a new book that takes the basic set-up of those tales and turns it into an artsy, comical, downright weird exercise in terror that brings together several slices of the horror genre... into something modern and surprising. Equally, Sala’s art style helps the story ride high -- his dark cartoons manage to suck you into the narrative while still highlighting the meta quality of the story. This is a story about horror as much as it is a horror story, examining the themes that draw us into these stories as much as they are utilized by authors to comment on the real world. Somewhere between those two intentions lies The Hidden, a modernist horror tale that acts like the zombies it evokes, cannibalizing the genres from which it sprang and spewing out something new from those entrails." – John Seven, North Adams Transcript
• Review: "The stories [in The Frank Book] are fantastical, phantasmagorical fables full of transmogrification, mostly silent so that you can bring to them what you will and interpret them as you like, and if you were to sit down with someone else and discuss any given piece you’d find it very revealing – both of yourself and of your friend. I often describe them as 'mind-altering, yet legal.' Enlightening too, as I say.... [Jim Woodring] is a visionary, a veritable shaman with a love of Persian architecture and that rare ability to communicate wisdom — and folly (umm, yes, mostly folly!) — with skill. As a visual craftsman he totally floors me, his wrinkled-line textures placed just-so, leaving each panel on the page a perfect composition. A beautiful, beautiful book." – Stephen L. Holland, Page 45
• Interview:Comics Bulletin's Jason Sacks talks to Gahan Wilson about his new collection of Nuts: "The thing that inspired me and put me on the kids' side, kept moving me along on it, was that the grownups -- and more grownups do it wrong than right -- that they don't understand how complicated that little rascal is. How much they're taking in. How alive they are. How much they apprehend. And how seriously they take it. They are astoundingly alive with bad things and good things."
• Interview: Hanna Brooks Olsen of Seattlest talks with Megan Kelso about her upcoming presentation at Richard Hugo House this Friday: "I'm using a series of rotating images on a loop. Unlike when you're reading a comic by yourself, where you can go back and re-read a panel or flip back a page (if someone's reading aloud), suddenly it's going by, almost like a film, and you don't control the page. And I think that that control is what people love about comics. You get to entirely control that space. A lot of the things that are magical about reading comics on a page are lost when they're performed live."
Our own Jason T. Miles has joined in the efforts to benefit the family of Dylan Williams of Sparkplug Comics by gathering donations of artwork and auctioning them on eBay. Current offerings include Peter Bagge's original cover for Neat Stuff #5 (above) and pieces by our own Eric Reynolds and Jason himself, with an interpretation of a cover of one of Williams's Reporter comics (below). Click each image to go directly to the respective eBay auction page. Upcoming auctions from Jason will include work by a who's-who of Seattle cartoonists, including Max Clotfelter, Jeremy Eaton, Megan Kelso, David Lasky, Marc Palm, Greg Stump and more. Meanwhile, the "Divine Invasion" benefit auctions organized by Floating World's Jason Leivian continue as well, with some great pieces including original pages by Kevin Huizenga (bottom). Bid early, bid often.
Our own Ian Burns has joined me in the exclusive "Theme Sketchbook of Frank Oz Puppet Characters Club" with his own super-impressive book of Animal from The Muppet Show (my personal second-favorite member of The Electric Mayhem, after Zoot), which is giving my Yoda collection a serious run for its money. Here are some Fantagraphics-relevant entries as posted by Ian on the Versus the Moon blog (where he posts 2 new ones a week, so keep checking back):
• Review: "Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse: Race To Death Valley by Floyd Gottfredson will be warmly received by comics aficionados but should also intrigue Disney animation buffs who aren't necessarily plugged into comic strip history. Editors David Gerstein and Gary Groth have not only scoured the planet for the best surviving artwork on Gottfredson's first epic continuity, which ran in newspapers from April to September of 1930; they've provided background essays (by a raft of experts), vintage press materials and artwork to put it into the context of Walt Disney's burgeoning career, and Mickey Mouse's budding stardom.... I have a feeling that this book, crafted with such obvious care, will earn Gottfredson a new legion of admirers." – Leonard Maltin
• Review: "Popeye hawking newspapers? Donald Duck selling gasoline? You'll find them and a whole cavalcade of comic strip characters in Drawing Power: A Compendium of Cartoon Advertising, edited by Rick Marschall and Warren Bernard. In a hundred-plus pages you are treated to a sampling of cartoon print ads from the 1890s to 1940s. There are short informative blurbs about the cartoonists (some of whom were featured in ads themselves) and the history behind the ads. A great treat for fans of comic strips, Americana, and ephemera." – The Christian Science Monitor "Top Picks"
• Review: "Not long ago a very interesting book was released which aims precisely to investigate and chronicle the parallel paths of comics and advertising from 1870 until 1940 entitled Drawing Power: A Compendium of Cartoon Advertising. Fantagraphics Books offers a hearty volume... which is our guide with text and images to the 'commercial' roots of the comic strip and the amazing work that resulted from comics creators who worked in advertising.... Drawing Power: A Compendium of Cartoon Advertising is a book that will surely pique the interest of those involved in the communication sector, but also all who are drawn to pop culture. An excellent edition from Fantagraphics..." – Lida Tsene, Comicdom (translated from Greek)
• Review: "Richard Sala’s The Hidden is yet another undead saga, though it’s more ambitious than most.... As the backstory deepens, Sala ties The Hidden to older literary traditions, weaving in pieces of folktales and the legend of Frankenstein. Because Sala has had a career-long fascination with B-movies, gothic illustrations, and general ghoulishness, this plot is right in his wheelhouse. But The Hidden isn’t just an entertaining riff on well-worn horror concepts. Taking his cues from Mary Shelley, Sala explores human vanity and arrogance as a way of showing how everything can go so wrong so fast." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "...Mome 22 concludes the run of one of alt-comics' longest-running and most essential anthologies. Like Weirdo before it, Mome bridged the gap between veteran cartoonists and the new breed... Here’s hoping that as with Zap, Raw, Arcade, and so many that have gone before, another anthology will rise to take Mome’s place. And soon." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "...Shimura Takako is a master at portraying subtle events in a slice of life story about adolescence that never feels didactic.... One of the things I like about Wandering Son is the way many of the events in the book are simultaneously safe and filled with dramatic tension.... Like the storyline, Shimura’s art is simple but nuanced.... As you’d expect from Fantagraphics, the production quality for Wandering Son is excellent. I hope that more manga is on the horizon from them. While I’ll happily read more cheaply produced manga, it is nice to have a variety of options. Carefully curated manga like Wandering Son is a treat." – Anna Neatrour, Manga Report
• Review: "Jason’s deadpan, anthropomorphic characters make his books must-reads for me.... I'd give [Isle of 100,000 Graves] to my daughter... and my wife... in hopes that, after laughing at the Hangman’s Academy’s students, teachers, and administrators, they’ll agree to dress up in multi-colored hoods and carry instruments of torture next Halloween." – Gene Ambaum, The Unshelved Book Club
• Review: "Chun fills his collections with the best cartoons – the ones that can still delight readers, and Covey uses his lively and inventive design sense to make these old cartoons fresh and vital. With The Pin-Up Art of Humorama, Chun and Covey will once again make you believe that the art of Humorama is still alive and kicking – although the line ceased to exist decades ago. [Grade:] A" – Leroy Douresseaux, I Reads You
• Review: "This Fantagraphics edition collects the first two French albums of Les Aventures Extraordinaires d’Adèle Blanc-Sec (Pterror Over Paris and The Eiffel Tower Demon) in a large format hardback edition, and it’s beautifully presented. First released in 1976, Jacques Tardi’s story has a timeless quality, set in an alternative, steam-punk universe, shortly before World War I.... Tardi’s art recreates the scenery beautifully, with stunning backdrops bringing the architecture and beauty of Paris to life. ...[A] compelling and enjoyable mystery story with an alternative Victorian feel." – Grovel
• Review: "Comic fanboys have read Sgt. Rock or The Howling Commandos which are realistic in many ways, but there was a time when a comic mag got down right truthful. I’m speaking of Blazing Combat #1-4 (1965-66, Warren) and recently Fantagraphics collected the run in both hardcover and softcover. Blazing Combat was an anthology comic that showed the very dark and very real side of war. A loose followup to the EC Comics War genre books, it showed US G.I.’s dying in terrible ways, commanders giving orders with little regard for consequences and the militaristic definition of collateral damage. Jim Warren let it all hang out when it came to editing Archie Goodwin’s writing... Of course Goodwin is a genius and I’m usually more of a word-man when it comes to comics, but this time it’s the art that captured my attention. It’s a who’s-who of monster talent..." – Chris Marshall, Collected Comics Library
• Review: "Fred [the Clown] is a figure of innocence, a lovelorn sad sack who keeps getting hit by custard pies — and, even harder, by life — over and over again, but keeps standing back up to go on. Langridge mostly tells his story in short wordless comics stories... in his usual style, a crisp modern interpretation of the classic '20s animation look... They're slapsticky stories of a sad clown, using the accouterments of vaudeville and early Hollywood, that nonetheless feel entirely new and fresh and funny. I don't know how Langridge does it, but he does it very very well." – Andrew Wheeler, The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
• Plug: "You must buy @DaveMcKean's NSFW book 'CELLULOID' at your local comics or book store. Or in a plain brown wrapper..." – Neil Gaiman
• Preview/Plug:Comicsphere re-formats and re-presents one of our previews of Johnny Ryan's Prison Pit Book 3 to their readers, with Josh West saying "This is set to be 120 pages of ‘once you see it, it can’t ever be unseen’ scenarios and, honestly, Comicsphere couldn’t be more excited! Unbelievably unpredictable, violent, satirical and likely to entertain more than anything else on the shelves through September, the Prison Pit makes Hell look like nothing more than a relaxing Sunday morning stroll through a (really hot) meadow."
• Interview:Comic Book Resources' Tim Callahan has a wide-ranging conversation with Johnny Ryan about Prison Pit and other topics: "I guess I have this fascination with stories where the 'hero' is not a hero at all. He's a loser or an idiot or a scumbag, but somehow the author makes us give a shit about him or her.... I think this is a strain that also runs through my work. It's about bad people, doing bad things, but I try and trick people into caring about or liking these people."
• Preview/Plug:Comicsphere gives the same treatment as above to our excerpt of Jacques Tardi & Jean-Patrick Manchette's Like a Sniper Lining Up His Shot, with Josh West saying "...Jacques Tardi returns to the world of guns, crime, betrayal and bloodshed with this stunning, grisly, and remarkably faithful interpretation of Manchette’s last completed crime thriller."
"Athos in America – Jason returns to The Last Musketeer and includes other Jasony stories like 'The Brain That Wouldn’t Virginia Woolf.'"
• Plugs:Graphic Novel Reporter includes almost everything we have coming out over the next 3 months in their "Great Graphic Novels of Fall 2011" roundup, particularly the Adult Fiction and Nonfiction categories (though we feel we should point out that Alexander Theroux's Estonia is neither fiction nor a graphic novel)
• Plug: "We’re over halfway done, and have moved into the last 20 years of the strip with the release of The Complete Peanuts: 1981 to 1982. Can you believe how fast time is flying? Kudos to Fantagraphics for maintaining the incredibly high standard of quality and presentation they established at the outset, with this entry featuring an introduction from cartoonist Lynn Johnston. More!" – Ken Plume, FRED
• Interview:Newsarama's Albert Ching talks to Michael Kupperman about his new book Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910-2010: "One other character I frequently think of when doing Twain — writing that book, or doing him in Thrizzle — is Dave Thomas from SCTV doing Walter Cronkite. Which in some ways is very similar — this kind of roguish, semi-self-befuddled character, roaming around having adventures."
• Interview:The Daily Cross Hatch's Brian Heater begins a multi-part chat with Drew Friedman: "Basically when Monte Beauchamp who edits those books invited me to do a book, I thought about what I like to draw the most. I like to draw comedians and old Jews. So I put those two together and started working on them between assignments over a year. I just got pleasure in drawing them. I could put aside any annoying assignment I had and just get down to drawing those old Jewish faces. That’s what it came down to."
• Interview:Washington City Paper's Mike Rhode had a little pre-SPX Q&A with Noah Van Sciver: "I'm excited to stop by the Fantagraphics table and say hello to those guys and see what's new." Well shucks!
• Lore: "’71 was a weird year for me. I never had quite so many women coming and going, as I did that year in the apartment I shared with Gary. But I was still drinking too much and just overdoing it in general, hedonistically speaking. I was getting very little good work done (gosh, I wonder why?) and was generally pretty miserable." – Kim Deitch's epic memoir-in-music "Mad About Music: My Life in Records" at TCJ.com forges into the 1970s
• Staff picks: Our own Ambassador of Awesome (and funniest Flogger) Janice Headley is the guest contributor to this week's Robot 6 "What Are You Reading?" column
Ian Burns has his fortune told by Dame Darcy, July 10, 2010
Ian Burns is the second-most recent staff acquisition here at Fantagraphics (designer Tony Ong holds current "new guy" status) — you may know him as one of the voices who answers our phone and takes your orders, or as the friendly bearded fellow at our Emerald City Comicon booth this year, or perhaps you've read his "Diaflogue" interviews with Leslie Stein and Kim Deitch. If the latter, you know that Ian is a pretty thoughtful guy about comics, and I'm happy to learn that he's been contributing essays to Graphic Eye, the recently-launched comics reviews-and-interviews site headed up by our erstwhile intern, steadfast supporter and good pal Gavin Lees (which in itself is great news). Here's Ian's discussion of "Merlock Jones," the shape-shifting detective in E.C. Segar's Thimble Theatre (as seen in Popeye Vol. 3), and here's his analysis of Jim Blanchard's portrait of Osama bin Laden which appeared on the cover of The Stranger earlier this year. Not only that, Ian's also been contributing to The Comics Journal website, including this well-traveled recent interview with Brandon Graham. (And if you ever meet Ian in person, ask to see his theme sketchbook of Animal from The Muppet Show — it's giving my Yoda sketchbook a run for its money, I tell you what.)
On behalf of everyone at Fantagraphics, let me be the first to congratulate our own Jacob Covey and his beautiful wife, Liz, on the birth of their new baby daughter, Maren, who joined the ranks of the world yesterday morning. Mom, baby, and even daddy and big sister Freya are doing well. Much love from your Fantagraphics family, Coveys.