• List: At MTV Geek, Brigid Alverson names Wandering Son by Shimura Takako one of The Best Manga Series of 2011: "Wandering Son is a delightful, quiet manga about a girly boy and a boyish girl.... This is not your typical gender-bender manga playing a gender switch for laughs (and fanservice); it's a quiet, subtle story of a boy coming to terms with himself."
• Review: "Believe it or not, music criticism was responsible for some of 2011's finest books, with Kevin Avery's impeccably researched Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson leading the pack.... Avery has done an outstanding job assembling a collection of the writer's work, fully illustrating why he was such an influential presence in his time. But, sadly, especially in our time, it also reads as something of a cautionary tale — ...you might wonder why on earth anyone would ever choose rock criticism as a career in the first place." – Bill Holdship, Detroit Metro Times
• Review: "I have no idea if it was part of cartoonist Johnny Ryan's overall plan for Prison Pit, but this latest book in the growing-to-classic-status series strikes me as a 'step-back' installment. This is where a series that was once less certain in the market place eschews some of the instant gratification of its first couple of books for the sake of layering in additional plot elements that look like they'll pay off further down the line. It's the kind of work that makes you think that its creator is thinking of the long-term as opposed to focusing solely on the short. Prison Pit had some of that particular swagger from the very beginning; this book seems even more settled and confident.... As was the case with the first two books, Johnny Ryan makes his case for mastery at a second, very specific genre, connected to the first through the extremes of expression involved." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
• Interview: At Memory Is Fiction, Craig Staufenberg talks with Wilfred Santiago: "Any subject or theme can work in comics, the narrative has unique, endless breakdowns. It’s a unique prism, anything that’s seen through it is distorted in a comic book way. The author, the cartoonist, just brings to light a particular side of that prism. I try to quit comics but it keeps pulling me back."
• Interview:Network Awesome Magazine has a fun Q&A with Richard Sala about the Invisible Hands animated shorts: "They used stop-motion. The staff would blow up my drawings onto colored paper and then cut out all the figures and movable parts. The pieces were then positioned on three layers of glass – to give depth – with the camera looking down. Next, the director, Denis Morella, carefully moved the pieces around – including the mouths, to match the dialogue – for each click of the camera. I grew up loving stop-motion – everything from Ray Harryhausen to Gumby – so, I thought doing the animation that way was pretty cool."
• Feature: At New Orleans-based website Gambit, Alex Woodward looks at Oil and Water — "As the book gets deeper south and deeper into the complexities and relationships of oil to the Gulf and its people, the stories get murky and collide, mimicking an ebb-and-flow that at first is much like oil and water, then gradually homogenizes. The Portlanders come to grips with their own misconceptions, and the characters that were once miles away from their lives become embedded into their own." — and talks to the book's creators (writer Steve Duin, artist Shannon Wheeler and editor Mike Rosen)
• Review: "...Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910-2010... is mainly an excuse to insert Twain, Zelig-like, into every decade between 1910 and today. Of course he made a lot of money in the 1920s and lost it all in the 1930s. Of course he and Albert Einstein were repeatedly struck in the head by a hammer-wielding monkey. And of course he sleeps with Mamie Eisenhower ('this lady was one hot dish.') It's all told in Kupperman's Marx Brothers-style absurdist deadpan voice, and if you like Tales Designed to Thrizzle, then you'll love this book. It's packed with laugh-out-loud moments..." – Paul Constant, The Stranger
• Review: "Gahan Wilson's Nuts features kids talking the way adults really talk... The kids in Nuts are vain, covetous, not so very bright, and they stagger around, reeling, from one unpleasant surprise to the next. They get their hair cut ('Sometimes I wonder if it's just that he's a lousy barber...') they look at some gory magazines, ('We're just not ready for that shit') and they attend funerals of uncles ('My God—I never saw them acting this way before! They've all fallen apart!'). Weirdly, by giving his kids the vocabularies of adults, he really captures the neuroses of childhood. We begin life as we live it now: Dazed, angry, and bitter at our own fundamental lack of control." – Paul Constant, The Stranger
• Review: "Fantagraphics has a nice introduction giving a brief biography of Kelly, and describing many of the struggles he had with Pogo and syndication. There is also a fantastic notes section at the end, which points out historical trivia as well as giving the context for some of the strips.... It’s possible that the appeal of Pogo may be lost on folks who are so used to everything that it influenced, be it talking animal comedies or political satires. Doesn’t matter to me, though. This strip is funny, well-drawn, and features a huge mass of likeable characters doing entertaining things. Put it together with Fantagraphics’ excellent presentation, and you have a definite must-buy." – Sean Gaffney, Manga Bookshelf
• Review: "Greg Sadowski and Fantagraphics’ Setting the Standard is perhaps the best book on Alex Toth that has been published thus far... Sadowski takes a straightforward, comprehensive approach and so Setting the Standard can rest comfortably on the bookshelf next to Fantagraphics’ other excellent recent collections of essential comics such as Hal Foster’s Prince Valiant, Roy Crane’s Captain Easy and Buz Sawyer and Carl Barks’ Disney epics.... There are... many passages of thoughtful comics storytelling. The romance work is often brilliantly articulated and visualized... Toth’s handling of horror and suspense is intuitive, sometimes harrowing and exhibits his more radical inventions.... In Sadowski’s book, Toth’s work speaks for itself and the artist likewise. The book’s assemblage and design are very well done to make a package which is pulpy but tasteful, not cheap nor overly slick, not high/low cute or old-boy sentimental. It provides a complete and important body of work by a great cartoonist." – James Romberger (contributor to the final Mome), The Hooded Utilitarian
• Review: "The good news: it’s here, it’s real. The better news: it’s incredible. Walt Kelly’s lively, robust, and poetic world is faithfully and lovingly produced in this, the first of a proposed twelve volume series. The hardcover is printed horizontally, maintaining the integrity of the 'strip' format, with ample margins to avoid any gutter-loss. Fantagraphics knew this first volume would be scrutinized by hardcore Pogofans, and they’ve outdone expectations, dating each strip, providing historical context for the more esoteric 1940s references, and even reproducing the color Sunday strips.... Through the Wild Blue Wonder is one of our Best Comics and Graphic Novels of 2011, and there might not be a better gift this holiday for the historical and literary comics fan." – Alex Carr, Omnivoracious (Amazon.com)
• Review: "The usually tight-gripped Disney empire agreed to turn over their most treasured property to Fantagraphics (yes, again!). The results are eye-opening, featuring a Mickey that might be unfamiliar to most present-day fans. The stories are dense, packing plenty of dialogue into the strips — and the themes are darker than the bright-eyed, factory-sealed tales of today. Mickey is multi-dimensional in the first volume, Race to Death Valley, making rash decisions without much concern for everyone’s safety. Thankfully, Minnie is by his side to both reign him in and sometimes encourage his recklessness. The reproduction is crisp — the black inks are meticulous in their separation, and the book is augmented with over 50 pages of essays and Mickey esoterica. Volume 2, Trapped on Treasure Island, published last month, and Fantagraphics has a gift edition slipcase that contains both volumes. This dynamic look is a revelation in the life of the character who started it all for Disney." – Alex Carr, Omnivoracious (Amazon.com)
• Plug: At Comic Book Resources' "Black Friday Comics Shopping Guide": "Fantagraphics is all over the legacies of some of the best artists ever to work for the Walt Disney company with Floyd Gottfredson's Mickey Mouse, vol. 1 ($29.99) and Carl Barks' Donald Duck ($24.99). Disney's most famous characters need no introduction, but their modern incarnations are so far from their roots that these collections will surprise anyone seeing these strips for the first time. Any of these volumes is a guaranteed smile."
• Plug: Deb Aoki's Manga Gift Guide at About.com Manga includes Wandering Son Vols. 1 & 2 by Shimura Takako: "This critically acclaimed series is available as over-sized hardcovers, which makes them especially gift-worthy, but the story is also charming and sensitive in a way that doesn't bash the reader over the head with a preachy agenda. Volume 2 is due out soon, so get that too if you can."
"Carl Barks’ 1974 painting 'The Sport of Tycoons,' which features the iconic image of Scrooge McDuck swimming in his gold-filled vault, sold at auction last week for a record $262,900," reports Robot 6. You'll be able to buy our hardcover collection which includes the comic the painting is based on for less than 0.01% of that amount next June, in case your liquid assets aren't swimmable.
This week's comic shop shipment is slated to include the following new titles. Read on to see what comics-blog commentators and web-savvy comic shops are saying about them (more to be added as they appear), check out our previews at the links, and contact your local shop to confirm availability.
"It’s certainly Fantagraphics’ week, with the release of two amazing reprint volumes." – Johanna Draper Carlson, Comics Worth Reading
240-page full-color 7.5" x 10.25" hardcover • $24.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-474-0
"Fantagraphics' reprinting of the complete Carl Barks duck comics, wisely, starts not with the master funny-animal cartoonist's earliest material but with a period in which he was firing on all cylinders: the late-'40s era of grand adventure stories, four of which appear here alongside some shorter stories, one-page gags, and explanatory material. Shorter version: this is where you'll find the square eggs." – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
"I was so impressed by Fanta’s Mickey Mouse: Race to Death Valley, a book that I would have never guessed I would enjoy so much, that I’m eagerly looking forward to discovering this hidden treasure." – Johanna Draper Carlson, Comics Worth Reading
308-page black & white/color 11.25" x 9.25" hardcover • $39.99 ISBN: 978-1-56097-869-5
"And if I’m really binging, I’d add the first volume of Fantagraphics’ Pogo collection..." – Brigid Alverson, Robot 6
"Splurge-wise, how unfair is the universe for making the color, one-volume Bone available on the same day as Fantagraphic’s Pogo: The Complete Syndicated Comic Strips, Volume 1?... Bone and Pogo are especially impossible to pick between, even with the massive price difference." – Michael May, Robot 6
"...[T]he collection of Walt Kelly’s Pogo that hits stores this week is gorgeous. I have some of Fantagraphics’ previous Pogo volumes and this one blows them away." – Roger Ash, Westfield Comics Blog
"It’s difficult, when contemplating reading such an acclaimed classic, not to worry that the material won’t live up to the expectations created by the praise, or to wonder if the strip was fresher in its original time. (Especially with strips that comment on contemporaneous events, especially political ones.) I have no fear with Pogo, because if nothing else, the characters are so darn cute and well-cartooned, I know I’ll enjoy seeing them." – Johanna Draper Carlson, Comics Worth Reading
"Fantagraphics has been promising a complete reprint of Walt Kelly's wonderful comic strip for four years or so now (after reprinting the first few years' worth in paperback in the '90s). They apparently had some difficulty finding high-quality sources, but they've really gotten it right -- this looks fantastic. And this volume actually delivers more than its title suggests: besides the 1949 and 1950 syndicated strips (daily and Sunday), it includes Pogo's four-month run, from October 1948 to January 1949, in the New York Star." – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
"Another big, big, BIG one is Walt Kelly. Essential satire from a master, Kelly's strip ran from 1948 until his death in 1973. This collection was first announced in 2007 and has finally arrived. Necessary stuff, comics fans." – Librairie Drawn & Quarterly
144-page black & white 7.75" x 9.75" hardcover • $19.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-492-4
"...[A]ll the really cool, must-have books are in the splurge category this week (as usual). In one corner, after years and years of fits and starts and delays and promises galore is the first volume of Fantagraphics Complete Pogo collection, Through the Wild Blue Wonder. In the other corner we have the first volume in Fantagraphics other, other, other big reprint project, Donald Duck, Lost in the Andes, which collects some great stories by the masterful Carl Barks.... Just forget about your budget this one time. Your bank account will understand." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"CONFLICT OF INTEREST RESERVOIR: Oh shit, Disney animation showdown. Walt Disney’s Donald Duck Vol. 1: Lost in the Andes presents the first in a line of hardcover Carl Barks reprints, newly re-colored with all of the supplements you’d expect; $28.99. In the opposite corner, Pogo – The Complete Syndicated Comic Strips Vol. 1: Through The Wild Blue Wonder begins a comprehensive 12-book collection of the Walt Kelly strip in b&w and color; $39.99. And while I don’t think the 144-page, Deepwater Horizon spill-focused graphic novel Oil and Water has anything to do with Disney, it does mark a comics-writing appearance by longtime writer-on-comics Steve Duin, teamed with artist Shannon Wheeler; $19.99." – Joe McCulloch, The Comics Journal
• Review: "Rick Marschall and Warren Bernard’s Drawing Power is a provocative visual examination of the wonderful world of cartoon advertising.... Marschall and Bernard have mixed an unusual batch of artistic and economic history. After reading this book, you’ll never look at comic strips and capitalism the same way again." – Michael Taube, The Washington Post
• Review: "It's a little silly for me to do the full-disclosure tap dance... I'm quoted ten times in Kevin Avery's Paul Nelson biography-collection-tribute, Everything Is an Afterthought, and thanked prominently in the acknowledgments.... [The book is] better than you might figure.... With Nelson, the wild card was Avery, an unknown from Utah whose national track record starts here. But he's done inspired, diligent work. Constructed from a greater proportion of direct quotes than is normally deemed proper, the biography is doubly gripping as a result... And though the critical analyses that triggered this admiration shone less brightly than I'd hoped, the narrative writing I'd put less stock in compensated." – Robert Christgau, The Barnes & Noble Review
• Review: "Over the past decade, probably the single biggest frustration we've experienced here at The Copacetic Comics Company was the inability to offer customers the opportunity to experience the magic of Carl Barks in book form.... The influence on American culture of the Disney duck comic books Carl Barks wrote, penciled, inked and lettered for roughly a quarter century is incalculably large.... Carl Barks is one of the true titans of comic books, one of the very few who can hold their own with the likes of Jack Kirby, Will Eisner, Harvey Kurtzman and R. Crumb. His fluid cartooning and storytelling is simply unmatched.... Now, at last, ...his collected works will once again become available for North American readers... in what — based on the evidence of the first volume — is sure to be the most outstanding edition ever produced.... The Fantagraphics edition of The Carl Barks Library is ideal in almost every way and is sure to be the definitive edition of the works of this great comics master." – Bill Boichel (we presume), The Copacetic Comics Company
• Interview:Comics Bulletin's Jason Sacks sat down for a chat with Bill Schelly about chronicling the life and art of Joe Kubert: "Think of the effect he's had. It's like an amplifier. He's used amplification through all his students. His philosophy about good storytelling techniques, solid drawing fundamentals and all those things he's imbued in all those students who go out to every field of artistic endeavor and, in fact, internationally. So his effect is really international."
• Plugs: "Just in time for Christmas, Fantagraphics has published the first volumes of two archival comics series that promise to be amazing.... Carl Barks’s Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes — is a beautiful, 240-page, full-color collection... If you’ve got kids, it’s a terrific introduction to Barks’s DD mythos.... Walt Kelly’s Pogo was one of the great hilobrow comic strips of all time.... Go, Fantagraphics, go!" – HiLobrow
• Astrology: We totally almost missed that VICE talked to Dame Darcy about The Day of Elevens.
• Review: "Barks, the artist, is a master cartoonist, drawing lively, expressive characters with a graceful sense of movement. His beautiful, detailed backgrounds plant the ducks in a fully realized world that adds weight to his storytelling.... But besides the entertaining plots, Barks’ appeal is in his characters. He gives his ducks many human frailties and while they usually try to do the right thing, they make mistakes, get angry, frustrated, and even fail. Fantagraphics Books... does its usual high quality work here as well. The design and layout of the book is a handy comic-book size hardcover with bright, colorful reproductions of the comics. Besides the comics, there are articles on Barks and analysis on each story... For both newcomers to Barks' work and diehard fans, [Walt Disney's Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes] is a book that any comic book reader would love to find under the Christmas tree." – Rich Clabaugh, The Christian Science Monitor
• Interview: At The Comics Reporter, Tom Spurgeon talks with Rich Tommaso about his coloring work on our Carl Barks Library series — "[Disney] said we didn't have to be so religious about it. They wanted to make sure the color for the ducks, the reds and blues and the yellows, that those were pretty much bang-on. But they agreed that there was a little bit of leeway. If something looked like a bad color choice, you could find something in the ballpark range of that color. So that's what I would do." — and about his own comics work
• Review: "All aspects of Kubert's career are touched on in this tome, which is loaded with beautiful colour reproductions of its subject's artwork and complemented by a lengthy and insightful critical commentary by comic book historian Bill Schelly. Over the course of the book's 224 pages, you can see quite clearly how Kubert's art evolved and how his storytelling skills developed, but also how his unique style, those striking touch and sinewy images that could have been rendered by no one else, has remained intact. As with Fantagraphics' previous coffee table comic art books, The Art of Joe Kubert makes you want to see more — all! — of the artist's work." – Miles Fielder, The List
• Review: "Frank Zappa once said 'most rock journalism is people who can’t write, interviewing people who can’t talk, for people who can’t read.' However true that might be, Paul Nelson was one who most definitely could write. And he interviewed people who could talk, and plenty of people read what he wrote. Kevin Avery certainly read what Nelson wrote, and has now written Everything Is an Afterthought, which is both a biography of Nelson and a collection of his work, including some pieces that have never been published.... Like the best critics, Nelson was primarily a fan of what he wrote about, subjects that struck a chord with him. And here’s a bio and a collection of his work written by a fan of his." – Robert O'Connor, Spike Magazine
• Plug: Proud contributor to our first Walt Kelly Pogo volume Mark Evanier talks up the book on his blog: "It's a wonderful book and though I am a Consulting Editor — I think that's my title — I can rave about it because I deserve very little credit for its wonderfulness. Any book that properly presents the work of Mr. Kelly is going to be, by definition, wonderful...and Carolyn Kelly (daughter of Walt, companion of mine) and Fantagraphics Books made sure it was properly presented."
Plug: "...Michael Kupperman's new book [Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910-2010]... has everything a boy could want, including Mark Twain on the track of the elusive yeti!... Albert Einstein is a major supporting player in the book (he and Twain open a detective agency, natch) and somehow it behooves me to remind everyone that in real life for really real, Einstein's granddaughter married a renowned bigfoot hunter. That is a fact you can look up on your computer!" – Jack Pendarvis
• Interview:Robot 6's Tim O'Shea talks with Shannon Wheeler, with a couple of revealing behind-the-scenes tidbits about Oil and Water in the second half: "Steve [Duin] understands a scene really well. When all the characters visited the bird cleaning facility there was a large storytelling arc with multiple subplots. I would have been afraid to juggle so many elements. I would have focused on the single note of the horror of the facility. Steve isn’t afraid to trust the reader to understand. I’m a lot less trusting of the reader. Steve showed me how to have more faith in the narrative."
• Review: "With [Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910-2010] and the seventh issue of his Thrizzle series, Kupperman takes back the crown of Funniest Cartoonist Alive... Whatever direction he moves in, there is a consistent level of dizzying joy to be found in Kupperman’s work, a kind of humor that features dark and occasionally satirical edges but is mostly just a barrage of inspired wordplay, deadpan humor, and deceptively simple images." – Rob Clough, The Comics Journal
• Review: "...Barks truly was a master at the medium. We all have been hearing this for so long and for those who have not yet read any of his comics, this book [Walt Disney's Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes] and the rest of the upcoming series should put all those doubts to rest. Carl Barks used ducks to shine a light on the human condition and make jokes while also making commentary on us all. Despite these stories being published in 1948 and 1949, they truly stand the test of time. But what was truly amazing about his work was that it appeals to both children and adults. ★★★★★" – Nick Boisson, Comics Bulletin
• Review: "Happily, Woodring never tries to offer up his own explanations for what transpires in his stories [in The Frank Book]. The closest he gets is some vague, oblique hints in this collection's afterword, but -- like those occasions when David Lynch pretends to try to enlighten viewers about his similarly challenging movies -- Woodring's clues only lead to more questions." – Dave Wallace, Comics Bulletin
• Review: "The no-nonsense mademoiselle Blanc-Sec returns for another round or two of occult mentalism and monster-mash madness... Don’t expect it to make any sense, you clearly won’t if you read and loved Volume One of Adele’s extraordinary adventures as I did. Indeed much like, what seems an odd comparison on the face of it I’ll grant you, Umbrella Academy you just have to enjoy the ever mounting sense of the ridiculous jammed in page after page, which Tardi is an absolute master at." – Jonathan Rigby, Page 45
• Plug:Newsarama's Zack Smith chats with humorist John Hodgman [squee] about the current state of comics: "It’s funny – when I started writing about comics a few years ago, I discovered a lot of new things, one of them being the Glenn Ganges comics by Kevin Huizenga. I just love his work."
• Plug: Pamela Paul of The New York Times asks "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" creator Jeff Kinney about his favorite books from childhood: "...[T]he works that stood head and shoulders above the rest were Carl Barks’s ‘Donald Duck’ and ‘Uncle Scrooge’ comics from the 1940s through the 1960s. Mr. Barks wrote tales of high adventure generously peppered with moments of high comedy.... Classics such as ‘Lost in the Andes,’ ‘Only a Poor Man’ and ‘A Christmas for Shacktown’ left a deep impression on me. Mr. Barks taught me that comics could be high art, and I consider his work to be the best storytelling I’ve experienced in any form. ...Fantagraphics has announced that it is publishing the Barks collection in beautiful hardcover books that do great honor to the cartoonist and his stories, and I can’t wait to buy them for my kids. Proof that great storytelling endures from generation to generation."
• Review: "This volume [Walt Disney's Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes] reprints tales from December 1948 through August 1949, when Barks was in high feather as a creator of breathless adventures and light comedies for his Ducks... Great pop culture, great analysis. Scrooge is always searching for more gold, and there’s plenty here. [Rating] 10/10" – Michael Barrett, PopMatters
• Review: "The finale of the story Jaime has been telling over the past couple of annual issues [of Love and Rockets: New Stories] is a moment of bravura comics storytelling, but the buildup to it in the opening portions of this issue is pretty great as well... Ah, but as nice as these stories are, they all seem to be prelude to the dazzlingly virtuosic end of this chapter in the Locas saga... This could signal an end to the current era of Locas stories, but these characters are less figures of Jaime's imagination than real people alive in the minds of readers everywhere at this point, and even if another story featuring them never appears, we can rest assured that they will continue to live on, somewhere, sometime." – Matthew J. Brady, Warren Peace Sings the Blues
• Review (Audio): Introducing the latest episode of the Wait, What? podcast, co-host Jeff Lester says "we dollop more praise on Ganges #4 by Kevin Huizenga because honestly that sucker could probably use another five or six dollops."
• Plugs: "Fantagraphics’ collections featuring Charles Schulz’s comic strip masterpiece, Peanuts, are fantastic and if you’re a Peanuts fan, you need to be reading these. Floyd Gottfredson probably did as much to shape the personality of Mickey Mouse and his supporting cast as Carl Barks did for the Disney Ducks, yet his work has never received the same degree of attention as the work of Barks. Fantagraphics is correcting that with Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse. The first two volumes of this series are fantastic and the strips probably look better here than they did when they were originally published. It’s a joy to watch Gottfredson develop as a storyteller as Mickey and the gang evolve along with him.... There’s also plenty of background material to place the stories into historical perspective. And the collection of Walt Kelly’s Pogo that hits stores this week is gorgeous. I have some of Fantagraphics’ previous Pogo volumes and this one blows them away. I’m also getting into Popeye for the first time with their collections of Segar’s classic strip." – Roger Ash, Westfield Comics Blog
• Commentary: At Comic Book Resources, Laura Sneddon, who is documenting her experiences in the postgraduate Comic Studies program at the University of Dundee in Scotland, examines the work of Robert Crumb and Aline Kominsky-Crumb for the class topic "Comics and Gender"
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