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."
Queer cartooning encompasses some of the best and most interesting comics of the last four decades, with creators tackling complex issues of identity and a changing society with intelligence, humor, and imagination. This book celebrates this vibrant artistic underground by gathering together a collection of excellent stories that can be enjoyed by all.
No Straight Lines showcases major names such as Alison Bechdel (whose book Fun Home was named Time Magazine’s 2006 Book of the Year), Howard Cruse (whose groundbreaking Stuck Rubber Baby is now back in print), and Ralf Koenig (one of Europe’s most popular cartoonists), as well as high-profile, crossover creators who have flirted with the world of LGBTQ comics, like legendary NYC artist David Wojnarowicz and media darling and advice columnist Dan Savage. No Straight Lines also spotlights many talented creators who never made it out of the queer comics ghetto, but produced amazing work that deserves wider attention.
Until recently, queer cartooning existed in a parallel universe to the rest of comics, appearing only in gay newspapers and gay bookstores and not in comic book stores, mainstream bookstores or newspapers. The insular nature of the world of queer cartooning, however, created a fascinating artistic scene. LGBT comics have been an uncensored, internal conversation within the queer community, and thus provide a unique window into the hopes, fears, and fantasies of queer people for the last four decades.
These comics have forged their aesthetics from the influences of underground comix, gay erotic art, punk zines, and the biting commentaries of drag queens, bull dykes, and other marginalized queers. They have analyzed their own communities, and their relationship with the broader society. They are smart, funny, and profound. No Straight Lines will be heralded by people interested in comics history, and people invested in LGBT culture will embrace it as a unique and invaluable collection.
A detective is walking down the street. It is raining. He sees a "Lost Cat" poster. A minute later he sees the cat from the photo. He picks it up and goes back to the poster. He calls the number. A woman answers. He turns up at her place and gives her the cat. She invites him in from the rain for a cup of coffee. They talk and find out they have a lot in common: both are divorced and living alone.
Some days later he invites her out for a dinner. She accepts. He shows up at the agreed time. She doesn't. He calls her home and knocks on her door. No answer. He asks the neighbors. They haven't seen her. She has disappeared. He makes some phone calls and investigates, but can't find her. He gets a new client and has to start working on a new case. In his head he continues their conversation...
Lost Cat, the new graphic novel by Jason, is both a playful take on the classic detective story, and a story about how difficult it is to find a sister spirit, someone you feel a real connection to — and what do you do if you lose that person?
When Al Columbia is not drawing chilling comics or making home-made flame throwers (they can shoot as far as fifteen feet!), he's with his band cooking up something cool. The music video "Black Bikini" was filmed on location at 'Plum Island.' Columbia has about eight songs ready for his new album called Journey to Death Island, which will be out from Psychopop Records in the near distant future. Give it a listen, maybe even a shimmy and shake.
Read Ghost World and other Clowes classics in a whole new way! Ken Parille and a passel of great comics thinkers provide critical and contextual insight into the artist and his hugely influential work. News of this book prompted The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon to comment, "Ken Parille's stuff is routinely pretty great... Count me in." It's a must for all Clowes fans and serious comics readers.