Wrapping up another week of Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "Fantagraphics sets a high standard for quality in all of their products, and [Gahan Wilson: Fifty Years of Playboy Cartoons] does not disappoint. ... It's just amazing...this is a product with a real 'wow' factor. ... If you're an admirer of Wilson's work like I am then this will be a must-have, something you'll want to look at again and again." – Matt Staggs, Suvudu (Random House)
Via Eric; I don't know where he found it. It seems like it starts out half-assed, but I think that's "in character" as Enid. It gets pretty great when "Jaan Pehechaan Ho" kicks in, so stick with it. Thanks, Ms. Jewels! We look forward to your turn as Rebecca. Or how about a duo act? (YouTube link)
[EDIT: Hey, it's been pointed out to me that the original wording of my post suggesting the duo act could be seen as disparaging to this particular performer. That wasn't my intent at all! Looking back, it did read kinda harsh and lacked the positivity it should've had. My apologies to Ms. Jewels and anyone else I might've inadvertently insulted.]
The multiple Harvey and Eisner Award nominee returns for its fifth year. With this issue, the series has now featured over 2000 pages of comics in its four and half years of existence (2109, to be exact), which may be a record for an English-language alternative comics anthology. This issue's cover is by Nate Neal, who delivers "The Neurotic Nexus of Creation," a 15-page explication of the creative process. MOME 18 also includes the first new comic in several years by Dave Cooper, as well as the MOME debuts of Tim Lane, Ivan Brun, Joe Daly, and Jon Adams. Also returning are MOME stalwarts Lilli Carré, Ben Jones, Frank Santoro, Jon Vermilyea, Nicolas Mahler, Ted Stearn, Renée French, Conor O'Keefe, Derek Van Gieson, and T. Edward Bak.
Download an EXCLUSIVE 15-page PDF excerpt (5.9 MB) with a page from every artist in the issue.
World War I, that awful, gaping wound in the history of Europe, has long been an obsession of Jacques Tardi’s. (His very first — rejected — comics story dealt with the subject, as does his most recent work, the two-volume Putain de Guerre.) But It Was the War of the trenches is Tardi’s defining, masterful statement on the subject, a graphic novel that can stand shoulder to shoulder with Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front and Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms.
Tardi is not interested in the national politics, the strategies, or the battles. Like Remarque, he focuses on the day to day of the grunts in the trenches, and, with icy, controlled fury and disgust, with sardonic yet deeply sympathetic narration, he brings that existence alive as no one has before or since. Yet he also delves deeply into the underlying causes of the war, the madness, the cynical political exploitation of patriotism. And in a final, heartbreaking coda, Tardi grimly itemizes the ghastly human cost of the war, and lays out the future 20th century conflicts, all of which seem to spring from this global burst of insanity.
Trenches features some of Tardi’s most stunning artwork. Rendered in an inhabitually lush illustrative style, inspired both by abundant photographic documentation and classic American war comics, augmented by a sophisticated, gorgeous use of Craftint tones, Trenches is somehow simultaneously atypical and a perfect encapsulation of Tardi’s mature style. It is the indisputable centerpiece of Tardi’s oeuvre.
It Was the War of the Trenches has been an object of fascination for North American publishers: RAW published a chapter in the early 1980s, and Drawn and Quarterly magazine serialized a few more in the 1990s. But only a small fraction of Trenches has ever been made available to the English speaking public (in now out of print publications); the Fantagraphics edition, the third in an ongoing collection of the works of this great master, finally remedies this situation.
“‘The war to end all wars’ has become a magisterial comic book to end all comic books. I seldom give blurbs, but this book is an essential classic. Among all of Jacques Tardi's towering achievements as a comics artist, nothing looms larger than this devastating crater of a work. It’s a compulsively readable wail of Existential despair, a kaleidoscope of war’s dehumanizing brutality and of Everyman’s suffering, as well as a deadpan masterpiece of the darkest black humor. The richly composed and obsessively researched drawings — perfectly poised between cartoon and illustration — march to the relentless beats of Tardi’s three horizontal panels per page to dig a hole deep inside your brain. This is one Hell of a book.” —Art Spiegelman
"Tardi’s depiction of the First World War is so impassioned and visceral that it can be compared to the work of the artists who actually served in the trenches." – Joe Sacco
In the rarefied realm of classic cartoon pin-up art, nobody did it better than Jack Cole. With his quirky line drawings and sensual watercolors, Cole, under Hugh Hefner's guiding hand, catapulted to stardom in the 1950s as Playboy's marquee cartoonist, a position he held until his untimely death at the age of 43.
Jack Cole has been justly celebrated as the creator of Plastic Man and an innovative comic book artist of the 1940s (especially in Art Spiegelman and Chip Kidd’s Jack Cole and Plastic Man: Forms Stretched to Their Limits). After finishing his 14-year run on Plastic Man, he found himself looking for something new. According to Cole, his savior was the Humorama line of down-market digest magazines. This girls and gags magazine circuit proved to be the perfect training ground to regain his footing and develop his craft at single panel “gag” cartoons. His ability to render the female form was already without peer. Though he signed his cartoons “Jake,” Cole’s exquisite line drawings and masterful use of ink-wash — a skill he carried over to Playboy — betrayed his pseudonym. In comparison to his contemporaries, however, Cole was probably Humorama’s least prolific artist. Though his images were frequently used for covers, Cole’s cartoons were few and far between, with scarcely a single drawing appearing every five issues.
Along with a foreword by editor Alex Chun, this volume (originally released in a now out-of-print hardcover edition that now fetches high prices on the secondhand market) collects the best of these hidden gems, including several shot from Cole’s stunning original art. Most of these drawings have not seen print elsewhere since their original publication.
"Cole's goddesses were estrogen soufflés who mesmerized the ineffectual saps who lusted after them." – Art Spiegelman
"Jack Cole was a masterful comic book artist who helped define the golden age of his art form." – Village Voice