Inspired by a real-life incident — getting his tie caught in a moving Moviola editing machine — Gene Deitch, cartoonist, animator, memoirist, renaissance man, created Nudnik, his Everyman character, a cross between Candide and Godot.
The star of 12 Paramount-produced animated shorts that ran in theatres as an opening to the main movie in 1964 and 1965, Nudnik was one of Deitch's most creatively personal and commercially successful creations in a long career of innovative and successful work, including the award-winning animated versions of Jules Feiffer’s Munro and Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are.
Nudnik is the well-intentioned, kind, cheerful, but bumbling naïf, inspired by and reflecting such archetypal characters as Jackie Gleason's Poor Soul, Charlie Chaplin's Tramp, and Charles Schulz's Charlie Brown. He never gets a break, can't do anything right, but somehow muddles through, dignity more or less intact.
Nudnik Revealed! finally collects all of Deitch's original drawings, sketches, model sheets, storyboards, and color "set-ups" that he drew during the Nudnik production season of '64-'65, all reproduced from original art, showcasing his lively pencil line and his slick, authoritative pen and ink work. Deitch, a born storyteller and one of the great raconteurs of comics and animation, accompanies the copious examples of art with a running commentary — by turns, funny, spirited, and chock full of historical insights.
Since the 2004 publication of The Mischievous Art of Jim Flora, the once-forgotten illustrator has gained recognition as one of the foremost pioneers of a raucous, cartoonish style of commercial art that defines the Mid-Century aesthetic. Two follow-up volumes, The Curiously Sinister Art... (2007) and The Sweetly Diabolic Art... (2009), captured Flora's largely unseen fine art works, spotlighting a variety of themes such as architecture, cats and dogs, science, cars, trains — and the occasional swerve toward gratuitous violence.
But one of Flora's sustaining loves was music. His 1940s Columbia and 1950s RCA Victor record covers, in which legendary musicians were routinely afflicted with mutant skin tints and bonus limbs, are considered classics of outlandish post-Cubist caricature. During this period Flora also produced an enormous amount of promotional ephemera, including new release monthlies, trade booklets, ads, and point-of-sale novelties.
The now out-of-print Mischievous Art featured Flora’s known album covers. (No complete discography existed.) Since that book’s publication, more covers have been found, as well as rough drafts and unused designs. So Flora co-archivists/authors Irwin Chusid and Barbara Economon have compiled a complete collection of Flora covers (including recent discoveries) and unpublished sketches in one volume, augmented by music images not included in previous volumes. The High Fidelity Art of Jim Flora is the definitive anthology of the maestro's visual compositions, reflecting jazz, classical, and Latin music.
Regarding his jam-packed canvases Flora once said he "couldn't stand a static space." There’s nothing static about the images in The High Fidelity Art: they wail, dance, bounce, and swing from the chandeliers. Flora had a knack for grooving with a paintbrush, making art to which you can tap your toes and snap your fingers.
You might think that birth of Prince Valiant's son Arn at the end of the previous volume would have slowed down Val's adventuring, but you would be wrong. After the baby has been christened, Valiant and Gawain are dispatched to investigate reports of black magic in Wales, ending up in pitched battle at the aptly-named Castle Illwynde. Then it's off to Scotland to battle the Picts, and then home yet again for Val to visit his growing boy.
Valiant now enters the 1950s: The Thule winter is hard and bleak, and a prince who has designs on Aleta must be dealt with. Then it's another epic-length story, "The Missionaries," in which Val and several of his fellow knights and crew travel to Rome on a quest for teachers who might bring Christianity to Thule. The story also features an escape through the Alps, far too many red-headed girls, and a tragic, life-changing event for the young squire Geoffrey (a.k.a. "Arf"). And Foster charmingly ends the book with "The Prince Arn Story," a three-week sequence narrated by the toddler.
Prince Valiant Volume 7, once again shot from stunningly crisp and colorful original printer's proofs from Foster's original collection, also features the usual wealth of supplements, including another brace of rarely-seen Foster art, and an introduction by the recently-anointed artist of the ongoing Prince Valiant strip, Thomas Yeates.
EXCLUSIVE OFFER: If you pre-order the book direct from Fantagraphics, when the book is released you'll receive a code for a FREE download of the audiobook via email from Local 638 Records, with chapters read by a mind-blowing all-star lineup of music and cultural luminaries. See the full lineup here.
"It wasn’t the pounding headache or the all too familiar taste of blood in my mouth that woke me that morning, but the stink of cat piss. They all have cats. Cats and bad tattoos and mops of dyed black hair that reek of cigarettes and watermelon Bubblicious." This debut novel by veteran Seattle musician Danny Bland follows a pair of outsiders who find themselves locked in the palpable, dizzy grunge-rock scene of early-'90s Seattle.
Vulnerable to the high relief of heroin addiction, Bland’s characters — Charlie Hyatt and Carrie Finch — are unapologetic protagonists whose epiphanies are as blinding as their weaknesses. Finch, 21, beautiful and dangerous, drowns out the voices in her head and the consequences of a misled life with electric guitars, booze and petulant misbehavior. Her single abiding faith takes the form of an unlikely savior — '60s psychedelic musician Roky Erikson.
At the ripe old age of 28, Hyatt attempts to make sense of the cards he has been dealt: a miserable job in a porn shop, a drug habit he cannot afford and the wildly unstable woman he had chosen to love.
Two damaged people can balance a seesaw for a long time, even finding the illusion of safety; but when one gets off unannounced, the other will fall. As Finch finds sobriety, her sanity and her relationship with Hyatt falter until an inevitable event brings the two back together a decade later.
Stephen Dixon, one of America’s great literary treasures, has completed his first novel in five years. His Wife Leaves Him is as achingly simple as its title: A man, Martin, thinks about the loss of his wife, Gwen. In Dixon's hands, however, this straightforward premise becomes a work of such complexity that it no longer appears to be words on pages so much as life itself. Dixon, like all great writers, captures consciousness. Stories matter here, and the writer understands how people tell them and why they go on retelling them, for stories, finally, may be all that Martin has of Gwen. Reminders of their shared past, some painful, some hilarious, others blissful and sensual, appear and reappear in the present. Stories made from memories merge with dreams of an impossible future they'll never get to share. Memories and details grow fuzzy, get corrected, and then wriggle away, out of reach again. Martin holds all these stories dear. They leaven grief so that he may again experience some joy. Story by story then, he accounts for himself, good and bad, moments of grace, occasions for disappointment, promises and arguments. From these things are their lives made. In His Wife Leaves Him, Stephen Dixon has achieved nothing short of the resurrection of a life through words.
When asked to describe his latest work, the author said that "it's about a bunch of nouns: love, guilt, sickness, death, remorse, loss, family, matrimony, sex, children, parenting, aging, mistakes, incidents, minutiae, birth, music, writing, jobs, affairs, memory, remembering, reminiscences, forgetting, repression, dreams, reverie, nightmares, meeting, dating, conceiving, imagining, delaying, loving."
His Wife Leaves Him is Dixon's most important and ambitious novel, his tenderest and funniest writing to date, and the stylistic and thematic summation of his writing life.
Stephen Dixon was born in 1936 in New York City. He graduated from the City College of New York in 1958 and is a retired faculty member of Johns Hopkins University. He is also a two time National Book Award nominee — for his novels Frog and Interstate. He still hammers out his fiction on a vintage typewriter.
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The Children of Palomar is Gilbert Hernandez's much-anticipated return to the small Central American town of Palomar, more than a decade after his last "Heartbreak Soup" story. Originally released as a three-issue magazine series titled New Tales of Old Palomar in the acclaimed international "Ignatz" format, these stories are finally collected into one handsome book.
All of these stories deal with the classic characters of Palomar such as sweet Pipo, her sharp-tongue sister Carmen, sheriff Chelo, and the gang of boys who help start it all: studious Heraclio, tall and fey Israel, disfigured but goodnatured Vicente, and girl-crazy Jesús and Satch.
In the first story, mysterious, fast-moving thieves are stealing food from wherever they can grab it; Sheriff Chelo and some citizens do their best to solve this mystery, but nobody seems to be able to catch these bandits in action until Pipo puts her soccer-trained legs to work and goes after them herself. In the second, Gato, Soledad, Guero, Pintor, and Arturo go exploring a bottomless chasm and come face to face with... well, we won’t spoil the surprise. The third and last story focuses on one of Palomar’s most beloved characters, the gorgeous but troubled Tonantzín: Everybody in Palomar seems to take the supernatural with a grain of salt, but young Tonantzín is determined to uncover the mystery of the laughing baby that only appears to her, haunting her daily life. What is the baby’s link to the giant stone idols that stand outside the small town...?
Who doesn't love a good ghost story? This gorgeous, coffee-table art book is a compendium of old, forgotten haunted houses imagined by artist Ben Catmull, along with the stories and rumors of who haunts them, and why. Each spread features a different haunted house, lovingly and exquisitely rendered in scratchboard on masonite, with a short, nightmare-inducing description of each scene.
In "Drowned Shelley," for example:
A chorus of frogs surrounds the house where young Shelley was drowned headfirst in the bathtub by her drunken stepfather. Say her name 13 times while looking in the pond and she will drown you in your sleep. Say her name the wrong number of times while looking in the pond, and she will leave hair in your breakfast dishes. Say her name 13 times while not looking in the pond, and she will watch you when you clip your toenails. Mispronounce her name 13 times while looking anywhere near the pond, and she will kick you somewhere delicate at the stroke of midnight.
Catmull's images are evocative, haunting masterpieces that never tread in graphic imagery, choosing instead to suggest horrors far more frightening than what they explicitly depict. With just the right touch of humor to balance the terror, Ghosts and Ruins is sure to please fans of Edward Gorey or Tim Burton, and makes a perfect gift book for the ghost story fan in your house.
Gahan Wilson is probably best known for his macabre Playboy cartoons, filled with charming monsters, goofy mad scientists, and melting victims, and his cutting-edge work in the National Lampoon, but he's also one of the most versatile cartoonists alive whose work has appeared in a wide range of media venues. Gahan Wilson Sunday Comics is Wilson's assault from within: His little-known syndicated strip that appeared in America’s newspapers between 1974 and 1976.
Readers must have been startled to find Wilson's freaks, geeks, and weirdos nestled among family, funny-animal, and soap opera offerings. (The term "zombie strip" — a strip that has long outlived its original creator — takes on a whole new meaning in Wilson's hands.) While each strip, at first glance, appears to be a standard, color Sunday strip (albeit without panel borders), each Sunday Comic is a collection of one-panel gag cartoons, delineated in Wilson's brilliantly controlled wiggly-but-sophisticated pen line. The last gag cartoon on each Sunday is part of a recurring series, either "Future Funnies" or "The Creep." Some Sundays are a freewheeling mélange of board meetings, monsters, and cavemen (with cameos by Wilson's Kid character from Nuts, his gimlet-eyed view of childhood, collected in 2011 by Fantagraphics), while others riff on a topic or subject (clocks, plants, wallpaper, etc.). As is his wont, Wilson mines the blackest of black comedy in the banal horror of human nature.
Gahan Wilson Sunday Comics collects, for the first time, each and every one of these strips, luxuriating across a 12" x 6" landscape format, with Fantagraphics' trademark high production values, innovative design, and succinct historical commentary.
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TEotFW follows James and Alyssa, two teenagers living a seemingly typical teen experience as they face the fear of coming adulthood. Forsman tells their story through each character's perspective, jumping between points of view with each chapter. But quickly, this somewhat familiar teenage experience takes a more nihilistic turn as James's character exhibits a rapidly forming sociopathy that threatens both of their futures. He harbors violent fantasies and begins to act on them, while Alyssa remains as willfully ignorant for as long as she can, blinded by young love.
Forsman's story highlights the disdain, fear and existential search that many teenagers fear, but through a road trip drama that owes as much to Badlands as The Catcher in the Rye. Forsman’s inviting, Charles Schulz-influenced style lends a deadpan quality that underscores the narrative's tension. The End of the Fucking World is certain to be one of the most talked-about graphic novels of 2013.
Forsman is arguably the most acclaimed talent to come out of the Center for Cartoon Studies, a school founded in 2004 by graphic novelist James Sturm and educator Michelle Ollie in White River Junction, VT. Forsman graduated in 2008 and is a two-time Ignatz Award-winner for his self-published minicomic, Snake Oil. The End of the Fucking World is his first graphic novel.
In Fantagraphics' ceaseless effort to rediscover every world-class cartoonist in the history of the medium, we turn your attention to a neglected part of the art form — sports cartooning — and to its greatest practitioner — Willard Mullin.
The years 1930-1970 were the Golden Age of both American sports and American comic strips, when giants strode their respective fields — Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Hank Aaron in one, George (Krazy Kat) Herriman, Milton (Steve Canyon) Caniff, Walt (Pogo) Kelly in the other — and Mullin was there, straddling both fields, recording every major player and event in the mid-20th-century history of baseball. Mullin was to baseball players what Bill Mauldin was to soldiers: advocate and critic, investing them with personality, humanity, dignity, and poignancy; Mauldin had Willie & Joe and Mullin had the Brooklyn Bum, his affectionate 1939 character representing the bedraggled figure of the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Willard Mullin's Golden Age of Baseball: Drawings 1934-1972 collects for the first time Mullin's best drawings devoted to baseball — depictions of players like Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Yogi Berra, and Sandy Koufax, legendary managers like Casey Stengel and George Steinbrenner, and events like Lou Gehrig's emotional retirement speech on July 4, 1939, for which Mullin not only drew a portrait but composed a poem (which he often incorporated into his cartoons). Mullin's fluid line and delicate but vigorous brushwork are shown to beautiful effect, with many drawings reproduced from original art.
See why millions of baseball fans from the '30s to the '70s looked forward to Mullin's cartoons in their daily paper. Mullin was voted "Sports Cartoonist of the Century" upon his retirement by his peers, and his legacy has been summed up by New Yorker cartoonist Bob Staake, who wrote, "Mullin defined the modern sports cartoon by combining representative portraiture, cartoonish doodlery, and editorial commentary — part news account, part personal observation, his cartoons celebrated sport for its entertainment, cultural, and artistic value."