I can say, without a doubt, that was the Best TCAF Ever!
...Okay, fine, so Fantagraphics has only done the Toronto Comics Art Festivaltwice, but it truly was an amazing year! Thank you so much to Christopher, Peter, Miles, Andrew, Gina, and all the fantastic volunteers of TCAF!
And, of course, one of my favorite things about TCAF?
Canadian donuts. Oh yeah.
Mike and I woke up bright and early to set-up our table. There was a momentary panic when I realized one of our display racks didn't arrive from Seattle, but the stellar staff at the Toronto Reference Library loaned us one of their carts for the weekend so we could get all of our shipment out! Thanks Ab!!
This photo serves as proof that we DID bring copies of Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Vol. 1 (see? on the front corner there) and Wandering Son Book 1 (front and center). They both sold out so quickly, some people thought their debut was a myth, but nope! It's also true that Wandering Son sold out in the first two hours of the show!
Not too surprisingly, The Raven was another sell-out, along with Lorenzo's Ignatz title Chimera. (Stigmata was also insanely close to selling out.) And how gracious and kind was Lorenzo Mattotti? I'm envious of everyone who got to attend his panels! He kept modestly insisting his English wasn't very good (it was good!), but his intelligence and great humor shine through in any language! Thank you so much to TCAF and the Italian Cultural Institute for bringing Lorenzo to Toronto!
Lorenzo may have been a "Guest of Honor" at the con, but really, all of our artists were "guests of honor" at the Fantagraphics table! We feel so lucky to work with some of the nicest people in all of comics, like Zak Sally here (seen with fellow Ignatz artist Mattotti). Not only did Zak do beautiful signings, but "Professor Zak" came out, engaging customers (and us!) with his insane depth of knowledge on comic history! [Note to Zak: I totally wanna see that Osamu Tezuka DVD!]
It's not a TCAF without pre-eminent Ditko scholar Blake Bell, and we were thrilled to have Dave Cooperattending TCAF for what we hope was the first of many signings to come!
And, of course, it's everyone favorite: T Edward Bak, seen here modeling his sweet new Popeye shirt. Covey, I know you're jealous. Bak split his time between signing with us and signing with Koyama Press, ran by Anne Koyama, aka The Nicest Woman in Comics™.
On Saturday night, Mike, Lorenzo and I attended our first ever Doug Wright Awards, where this adorable picture was shown during the induction of David Boswell (far left in the photo) into the "Giants of the North." Yes, that isDaniel Clowes with The Hernandez Brothers and a grunged-out Chester Brown. Awesome.
Without a doubt, the most romantic moment of TCAF was when Drawn & Quarterly's Tom Devlin surprised Peggy Burns with the prettiest bouquet on Mother's Day! They were the Prom King and Queen of TCAF!
Another favorite moment was watching T Edward Bak and Lorenzo Mattotti at the TCAF After-Party on Sunday night. The two artists bonded over a crazy book T Edward found featuring Heavy Metal-style artwork. We got on the subject of "First Concerts." Mike and Todd both saw U2 on the Joshua Tree tour, albeit in separate cities. (High fives ensued.) And Lorenzo's first concert? Canned Heat. Just when you thought the guy couldn't get any cooler.
So, as you can see, it was a wonderful time at TCAF! (And there are lots more photos over at the Fantagraphics Flickr page.) Thank you so much to everyone who stopped by the Fantagraphics table to browse or purchase books — we're so grateful for your support and your enthusiasm, and we can't wait to see you again next year!
At last, a girl-centered comic book that actually appeals to girls (and even their parents)! Co-created by comics living legends Peter Bagge (Hate) and Gilbert Hernandez (Love and Rockets) on writer and artist duties respectively*, Yeah! is a unique masterpiece of all-ages fun. Originally published as a nine-issue comic book series from 1999-2000 by DC’s Wildstorm imprint, this all-ages gem (approved by the Comics Code Authority, no less!) is collected here for the very first time.
Krazy (vocals and guitars), Honey (drums) and WooWoo (keyboards) are the members of the pop band Yeah! They’ve achieved intergalactic superstardom on every planet but their own (Earth), where they live in anonymity and suffer indignities in their home of suburban New Jersey. The girls struggle with bad gigs (struggling to win $200 amateur-night contests despite playing to packed crowds of adoring fans on Uranus), aliens who have crushes on them, and rival boy band The Snobs.
* Fans of Peter Bagge's artwork, don't fret: he breaks out the ol' pencil for a 4-page backup story starring The Snobs (inked by Fantagraphics' own Eric Reynolds). And Love and Rockets fans take note: this comic features perhaps the longest-ever collaboration with Gilbert and his brother Jaime, who inks a whole chapter!
"Reading YEAH! is a bit like reading my life story, as told in an alternate universe. The story is about a kick-ass all-girl band that are truly like a family. They have gigs, adventures, boyfriends and pets, and a manager that is flawed but lovable. Not so dissimilar to the Go-Go's! Of course, YEAH! get to be HUGE rock stars on every other planet but Earth, which is something I dearly would have loved in my career!" — Jane Wiedlin
Johnny Ryan’s transgressive masterpiece Prison Pit has been the talk of altcomics circles since its debut in the summer of 2009. But before Prison Pit, Ryan garnered a considerable following via his one-man humor anthology (which doubled as a one-man War Against Political Correctness), Angry Youth Comix. Take a Joke collects many of the best stories from this inimitable series as well as many strips created for the wildly-popular Vice magazine, to which Ryan has contributed for years.
Unlike Ryan’s previous collections, which focused on very short stories, Take a Joke spotlights several of the artist’s longest humor pieces to date, notably: “Graveyard Goofs,” in which Ryan’s hapless antiheroes Sinus O’Gynus and Loady McGee exhume the corpse of the recently-deceased Santa Claus as part of a Top Secret experiment, fantasize an orgy with a collection of anthropomorphic condiment bottles (resulting in an unwanted pregnancy), and end up in Hell; “Boobs Pooter’s Jokepocalypse,” starring a coprophiliac version of Godzilla who destroys the world with hilarious jokes and crazy pranks; and “The World’s Funniest Joke,” a 24-page masterpiece that makes The Aristocrats look like a Nora Ephron film.
All this plus Cheesburg Chase, Omletta DuPont, "The Day The New Yorker Came to Town," and a handy index to help you find things like "ass angels," "s'mores crucifix" and "Yeti-tit earmuffs."
One of the very first autobiographical graphic novels to come from France, Lewis Trondheim’s Approximate Continuum Comics set the standard for the honest, often hilarious chronicling of a cartoonist’s life. Trondheim’s typically graceful, confident cartooning shows him wrestling with his own demons (sometimes, in dream sequences, literally) and an often malevolent world, while trying to maintain his rising career as one of Europe’s most beloved cartoonists.
Approximate Continuum finally brings American readers the first portion of the “Trondheim autobio trilogy” that also comprises the Eisner-nominated “At Loose Ends” meditation serialized in Mome and the “Little Nothings” series of short slice-of-life stories.
This volume contains the first three chapters serialized in The Nimrod comic book (praised as "A rewarding, pleasurable and entertaining read from a fine talent... well worth the cover price" by The Comics Reporter), the last three (never-before-translated) chapters, and a hilarious “rebuttal” section in which Trondheim’s family and cartoonist friends (including Epileptic creator David B. and Trondheim’s mom) dispute (or ruefully agree with) Trondheim’s depictions.
The Online Commentary & Diversions hamster wheel started spinning a little too fast, but I think I've got it back under control now:
• Feature: For Largehearted Boy's "Book Notes" feature, Wilfred Santiago creates a musical playlist for 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente: "Golden age animation has been a big influence on my work and the graphic novel itself is very musical. It would be interesting to see the shape that it would take as a feature film. So here is what the 21 soundtrack would sound like."
(The following links are via the Largehearted Boy link above:)
• Review: "The graphic novel  is a beautifully wrought Clemente collage, following the hitter from the impactful events of childhood through his career as a Pirate and up to his untimely death. While there were several poignant dramatic through lines, the book’s strength lies in its brilliant visuals, which far outweigh its strictly biographical content. In addition to his many other notable qualities, like his humanitarianism and his greatness as a player, Clemente was a beautiful man, with a striking physicality. Drawing on this aesthetic truth, Santiago stuns and heightens it, with an imaginative and dramatic illustrative style, with its palette of Pirates yellow, and orange and black. The oral tradition of myth-making is put into visual form here." – Ted Walker, Pitchers & Poets
• Review: "The comic book biography is alive and well in 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente... In 21, Wilfred Santiago, who was also born in Puerto Rico, uses the language of comic books to tell the story of Clemente’s life as something like the arc of the hero’s journey or as a heroic epic.... 21 captures what made Clemente unique. However, Santiago uses the medium of the comic book in a unique way to tell the story of man who represents the best of us. [Grade] A-" – Leroy Douresseaux, I Reads You
• Review: "...I love a good graphic novel biography. Well as those of you who are familiar with the great baseball player and humanitarian that Roberto Clemente was already know, it would be hard to tell his story in any media and for that story not to be powerful. ...21 ... is a handsome production... [and] an... EXCELLENT graphic novel." – Ralph Mathieu, Ich Liebe Comics!
• Plug: "21: The Story of Roberto Clementeby Wilfred Santiago, a graphic novel by an illustrator and writer from Puerto Rico, received a nice write up in a recent issue of Sports Illustrated (linked here)... If we could only have found it at the book store. Sports shelves? Graphic novels? You give it a shot." – Tom Hoffarth, Los Angeles Daily News
• Review: "...Mattotti is an artist who is equally concerned with complex imagery and sharp storytelling — attention to that combination leads us to what makes Mattotti so great. Claudio Piersanti wrote a very crisp script for Stigmata, and Mattotti illuminates the story deftly, probably because he has a real appreciation for well told stories.... If one’s standard for great cartooning is drawing that tells a story without a shred of vagueness, Mattotti’s work on the events described above is thrilling in its virtuosity. But this is a work of art far more potent than a simple story well-told. Mattotti’s two extremes — that of high level storytelling and drawing that suggests unique emotions — exist side by side without any fuss." – Austin English, The Comics Journal
• Review: "While the core timeline of Freeway is only a few hours of frustration spent in traffic, Alex’s mind wanders through past fiction and reality, present fact, and fantasy. Kalesniko, who himself worked at Disney as an animator, designed his main character as an anthropomorphic dog. The result is a wistful, innocent, and somewhat naive protagonist who is coming to the realization that his childhood dreams aren’t quite turning out as he planned.... It is definitely worth the challenge of meandering through the crammed vehicles to reach those poignant moments of Alex’s life, moments many of us share in our own versions of our adult selves." – Ashley Cook, Giant Fire Breathing Robot
• Review: "Less able graphic novelists might scare themselves silly with the scope of this book, but Mark Kalesniko’s attention to detail in all aspects of his craft — the backgrounds, the emotional ranges of the characters and the slow but steady-paced urbane drama — blends the components together masterfully.... [Freeway] is deeply sophisticated and literary. It deals with humanity’s big questions – love, death, life, and what we do with our time. It’s funny, touching, heart-warming, tragic and very engaging." – Andy Shaw, Grovel
• Review: "Gilbert’s sketches actually give an insight into how he feels about his characters, and as a reader, I found myself understanding the characters a bit more, just by looking at his drawings.... The work in the ‘Jaime’ section is quite beautiful and well drawn, however, it does not give further insights into the ways in which Jaime sees his characters, or what he has planned for them... To sum up, Love and Rockets Sketchbook Volume 2 is pretty awesome." – Lisa Polifroni, lisaloves2read
• Interview: At Inkstuds, a 2008 conversation with Johnny Ryan conducted and with illustations by Josh Bayer: "It’s interesting that you bring it up because people always demand that artists deliver some sort of meaning and truth, and when that truth’s hideous they throw up their arms and get upset and have hurt feelings and it’s 'you’re ruining people’s lives.' There’s conflict; you want the art to be true, but don’t want to be shown stuff that makes you feel bad, you can’t make people feel good all the time, it's not true, the object is to make people feel something. There’s no rule that it has to be something good."
• Interview:The Daily Cross Hatch wraps up their serialization of the transcript of Brian Heater's MoCCA panel conversation with Peter Bagge: "I used to worry about what my peers thought. That’s a big mistake. Never worry about what your peers think, because then you always find out that they would have done it in a heartbeat. [Laughter] If you take anything away from this conversation, it should be 'fuck Dan Clowes.'"
• Feature:The Seattle Times' Marian Liu previews our Charles Peterson: Taking Punk to the Masses exhibit at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery: "'I was wondering why this kid was bothering to take photos,' said Larry Reid, curator of the Fantagraphics show, of Peterson. Now, flipping through the photos, Reid remembers each scene as if it happened yesterday. Drawn to the energy of the music, Reid was a good decade older than many in the scene then. He shepherded the artists by promoting their shows and allowing them to play in his gallery's basement. 'I can recognize the artists by their shoes,' said Reid, looking through the photos."
• Plug: "For a reality check, I turned to a former Rolling Stone colleague and friend who always seemed to have a better line on all things cultural than anyone else around and a way of stating his position in a manner that set him apart, way apart, from other music writers — make that writers, period — of his time, and boy does he put today’s snarky music press to shame. This would be the late Paul Nelson... (Nelson’s life and work are getting their just due in September with the publication of a long-awaited, diligently researched biography by Kevin Avery, Everything Is An Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson. Full disclosure: Yours truly was among those Avery interviewed. But buy the book anyway.)" – David McGee, The Bluegrass Special
• Plug: "I’m in the process of reading an advance of Everything Is An Afterthought, Kevin Avery’s biography and selected works of the music critic Paul Nelson. Reading Nelson’s writing reminds me how of the role that he and other music critics of the time — our own John Swenson included — played in creating the myth of New York City for me." – Alex Rawls, OffBeat
• Plug: "Back in 2003, Lou Reed paid tribute to poet Edgar Allen Poe with his sprawling The Raven, which didn't exactly strike a positive chord with the many critics and fans at the time. Nevertheless, Reed will now be revisiting that album with a new illustrated book. The book, also titled The Raven, was made in collaboration with Italian illustrator Lorenzo Mattotti.... We originally called The Raven 'bizarre and thoroughly uneven.' We'll have to see if this new illustrated spin helps to make the entire album a bit more rewarding." – Alex Hudson, exclaim.ca
At Comics Alliance, David Brothers throws the spotlight on our ongoing series of Jacques Tardi translations, presenting 7 pages from The Arctic Marauder and writing "Jacques Tardi is a living legend in France, but is somewhat obscure over here. Thanks to Fantagraphics and their aggressive reprint schedule, Jacques Tardi is finally getting a proper American catalog.... The Arctic Marauder isn't what you think it is. I came into it with only the barest idea of what it would feature (high-sea antics, mystery, old-school diving suits), and while it fulfilled all those expectations, it went on to twist what I was expecting into new, and sometimes ugly, shapes. It's a pleasant surprise, really, and the twists and turns are not only believable, but genuinely interesting."
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