Fantagraphics is puttin' the "comics" back in Comic-Con as we head to San Diego this week with a slew of scintillating signings, almost two-dozen dynamite debuts, and a collection of comics sure to please any comics fan... and fill those enormous free tote bags they give away at the door.
Friday, July 22nd: • 10:30-11:30 Comics Arts Conference Session #5: Critical Approaches to Comics: An Introduction to Theories and Methods— Matthew J. Smith and Randy Duncan with panelist, Andrei Molotiu. [Room 26AB] • 1:00-2:00 Comics Arts Conference Session #6: Wordless Comicswith Andrei Molotiu. [Room 26AB] • 12:00-1:00 CBLDF Master Session 3: Jaime Hernandez [Room 30CDE] • 1:00-2:00 Publishing Queer: Producing LGBT Comics and Graphic Novels with moderator Justin Hall [Room 9] • 1:00-2:30 The Golden Age of the Fanzine moderated by Bill Schelly. [Room 24ABC] • 10:30-11:30 Cartoon Network Comedy: Regular Show/The Problem Solverz and More! The Problem Solverz talent includes Ben Jones, John Pham, and Jon Vermilyea. [Room 6A]
• Review: "...[F]eisty art-comics publisher Fantagraphics, for its new multivolume hardcover series devoted to Gottfredson’s rarely seen comic-strip work [Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse ], has gone back to the beginning, lavishing upon the cartoonist’s marvelously fluid, thrillingly kinetic serial adventures the same loving attention the company has brought to its benchmark Complete Peanuts library. Given that Fantagraphics is an adult-oriented press, production and restoration values are superlative, as are the more than 60 pages of historical essays and archival features that accompany these peerless black-and-white strips.... Anyone who ventures into this gorgeous 288-page tome will come away with a fresh appreciation for just what made Mickey an all-American comic-strip hero." – Steve Smith, Time Out New York
• Review: "Fantagraphics fucking whip ass at knowing what a beautiful book is.... The Mickey Mouse in this collection is a dynamic teenager with a whole lot of strong feelings, and it's both awesome and foreign to see him get mad or feel suicidal.... Fantagraphics are masters at collecting and presenting old comics.... This volume not only presents comics that you probably haven't seen before, but it places them in the proper context with about eight[y] pages of supplementary writing, images, and in-depth explanations that could merit their own little volume." – Nick Gazin, Vice
• Interview: Gazin follows up his Vice review of Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Vol. 1 with a brief chat with series co-editor David Gerstein: "Floyd's greatest achievement... was his portrayal of Mickey himself. Instead of seeing the Mouse as a kind of dull, smiley-faced everyman — the way a lot of people seem to envision him — Floyd portrayed Mickey as what he called 'a mouse against the world.' He was a stubbornly optimistic, imperfect but determined youth trying to prove himself in a competitive, scary, adventurous place. Floyd gave Mickey length and depth."
• Review: "It’s often argued that the key element to any successful manga is a relatable protagonist. Shimura has crafted hers so meticulously and is revealing their natures so carefully that it’s virtually impossible not to be deeply invested in them. In part, it’s the actual portrayal in this volume [of Wandering Son], but it’s also the tremendous potential they have. I want to see them age and mature, struggle and succeed, and find their ways to lives that give them happiness and peace. I don’t think there’s any more a reasonable person could ask of a story like this." – David Welsh, The Manga Curmudgeon
• Review: "...[Wandering Son] is an elegantly-crafted, character-driven story that lets us into its characters’ private worlds with both candor and delicacy. We are brought into their lives completely, and though we’re privy to their some of their most private thoughts and fears, there is never a sense that we’re observing them as 'subjects' or invading their privacy—something I often feel when experiencing 'issue'-focused fiction." – Melinda Beasi, Manga Bookshelf
• Review: "[Mattotti's] enigmatic, brooding scenes [in The Raven] harness the terror and beauty of the texts which span three centuries. They're uncompromising — and that's a quality that has always been applicable to the force that is Lou Reed." – Dean Mayo Davies, AnOther
• Review: "Drawing Power: A Compendium of Cartoon Advertising... is 124 pages of some of the best advertisements from the 1870s to the 1940s. Starring both cartoonists and cartoon characters, the book surveys an immense collection of cartoon advertising, focusing on the commercial roots of the comic strip and the fantastic artwork that came from cartoonists' freelance work in advertising. There are surprising and also familiar examples of products, ad campaigns, widely known catch-phrases, and cartoon figures.... Lovers of vintage advertisements and classic cartoons, you're in for a walk down memory lane..." – Nicole Torres, Print
• Review: "Love from the Shadows is somewhat inappropriately titled, as it sounds like a romance, but is really a sci-fi sex mash-up, with a big dash of David Lynch-ian 'what the fuck just happened here?' It’s definitely no chick flick, despite its strong female lead." – Rod Lott, Bookgasm
• Review: "Congress of the Animals... [is] Woodring’s second book-length Frank story. Not so overtly horrific as last year’s Weathercraft, but somehow more unsettling to me. Perhaps I’m just traumatized by the destruction of Frank’s house. Fantastic wordless storytelling, as always." – M. Ace, Irregular Orbit
• Plug: "You may think of Flannery O’Connor as a writer of the sorts of books that are all words, but in her younger days she yearned to be a cartoonist—and she wasn’t half bad. Fantagraphics will publish Flannery O’Connor: The Cartoons in December..." – Brigid Alverson, Robot 6
Comic-Con has announced their programming for Thursday July 21, the first full day of the convention, and here are the panels to circle in your program or plug into your smartphone app or scribble on the back of your hand (we will, of course, give a complete run-down along with our signing schedule and more info in the near future):
12:30-1:30 Spotlight on Bill Schelly— Comic-Con special guest Bill Schelly (The Golden Age of Comic Fandom, The DC Archives) is a leading fandom and comics historian. Moderator Gary Brown interviews Bill about his work, with special emphasis on his latest books The Art of Joe Kubert (debuting at Comic-Con 2011) and Founders of Comic Fandom, followed by a Q&A session. Room 8
1:00-2:00 CBLDF Master Session 2: Shannon Wheeler— From DIY zine making to the pages of the New Yorker and every flavor of independent press in between, Shannon Wheeler has distinguished himself for an ability to craft humor strips that are equal parts sardonic and existential. Take a close-up look at his approach to creating cartoons and gain insight into the nuts and bolts of making cartoons that connect with editors and readers at this CBLDF Master Session! The pieces created during this event will be available for bidding in Saturday's CBLDF Benefit Auction! Room 30CDE (Recommended by The Washington Post's Michael Cavna: "From zines to New Yorker magazine, Portland’s own has much knowledge to share with the aspiring.")
2:00-3:00 Love and Rockets —Gilbert, Jaime, and Mario Hernandez converse with Gary Groth about 30 years of creating their landmark comic book series, Love & Rockets. Since 1982, Love & Rockets has virtually defined alternative comics and culture, launching from the punk rock scene in Los Angeles and growing into one of the most mature bodies of work ever produced in the medium. Room 9 (Recommended by The Washington Post's Michael Cavna: "The Brothers Hernandez talk with Gary Groth about three glorious decades of L&R.")
2:30-3:30 Joyce Farmer: Special Exits, A Memoir — Can graphic work become serious literature through excellent artwork, writing ,and subject matter? Where does graphic work belong in bookstores and libraries? This Q&A with Comic-Con special guest Joyce Farmer examines her Eisner Award-nominated book Special Exits, A Memoir (Fantagraphics) in this spotlight panel. Room 4 (Recommended by The Washington Post's Michael Cavna: "Her Eisner-nominated Fantagraphics graphic-novel memoir is a must-read. Which makes Farmer a must-see.")
3:30-4:30 Spotlight on Frank Stack— Comic-Con special guest Frank Stack, pioneer of underground comix in the 1960s with such titles as New Adventures of Jesus, Feelgood Funnies, Amazons, and Dorman's Doggie, remains active as a fine artist and cartoonist. His Jesus stories were recently reprinted as The Second Coming by Fantagraphics. Frank will present a visual presentation and Q&A. Room 4
6:00-7:00 Comics for Social Justice: The Making of Oil and Water —Oil and Water is a book-length comic (Fantagraphics, Summer 2011) that is a partly fictionalized account of a 10-day trip that 22 Oregonians (activists, teachers, business owners, scientists, and artists) took last summer to "bear witness" to the BP oil spill on the Gulf Coast. Shannon Wheeler will briefly present the historic impact of comics on issues of contemporary social relevance and give a quick overview of why this project was conceived and what it hopes to accomplish. He'll then present his sketches from the Gulf Coast and show how he and collaborator Steve Duin transformed them into a compelling portrait of what hope and challenges remain along a ravaged coastline, one awash in both seafood and oil, that will be changed as irrevocably as those Oregonians that chose to bear witness to the tragedy. Q&A session to follow. Room 9
Whew! Get ready for a lot of running from room to room. Why, you'll barely have time to hit our booth and buy books!
• Review: "...Wilfred Santiago... has done something very extraordinary and that's create a graphic novel that will eventually stand the test of time. If there was ever a novel that every Latino/Latina (baseball fan or not), comic book fan, family or anyone who volunteers/works in nonprofit must own in their library, it's 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente. Am I exaggerating? No, being the comic book nerd that I am, I haven't been this moved from a novel since I read Frank Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.... While Roberto Clemente was a fantastic baseball player, it was his humanity in this graphic novel that shone brightly. And I thank Wilfred Santiago for creating his masterpiece and Fantagraphics for publishing it. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!" – Cesar Diaz, Latino Sports
• Review: "[Megan Kelso's] interest in open-ended narrative is apparent and, while occasionally frustrating, important, and her gouache work in the title story [in Queen of the Black Black] is lovely and subtle..." – Hillary Brown, Paste
• Scene:The New Yorker's Vanna Le reports from Lou Reed's reading of The Raven at the Strand bookstore in NYC last week: "Mattotti's illustrations, which were projected in a slide show, saturated the room with a kind of terror and despair. There was also something about the sound and sudden fits of fury in Reed's voice that seemed to mirror Poe's tormented vision." From the accompanying slideshow of images of the book: "Lorenzo Mattotti skillfully brings out the terror and elegance of Reed and Poe’s joint masterwork…. The book is an aesthetically stunning treat — but it isn’t only for the coffee table. Mattotti’s artwork is as enigmatic and suspenseful as the poetry itself."
• Review: "...[Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse] is not just a great Mickey Mouse comic, it's one of the best comics of all time.... When Gottfredson took over the Mickey Mouse newspaper strip in 1930, he created stories that still hold up eighty years later as solid well-done comics. That alone would be an incredible achievement, especially considering how few stories from the era even seem readable to a modern audience, but Gottfredson takes things to an entirely different level with comedy that's still funny and adventures that are genuinely thrilling.... As to the book itself, Fantagraphics has done their usual amazing job of design on it... The strips are crisp, there's a ton of bonus material (including biographical information, details on the process, and a bunch of additional strips), and the book even feels nice in your hands while you're reading it. They did a seriously remarkable job putting it together, which is fitting considering how good the material is.... It's a great collection, and one of the few that anyone who likes any sort of comics could — and should — pick up and enjoy." – Chris Sims, Comics Alliance (all emphasis his)
• Review: "It feels like there's been an onslaught of pirate stories in the last several years, but Jason's deadpan visual style mixed with Vehlmann's absurdly dark humor make for a special tale of skullduggery.... Hilarity and adventure ensue, but not without a tremendously affecting and emotionally complicated final scene, making [Isle of 100,000 Graves] a wild ride in the truest sense of the term." – John Seven, Worcester Magazine
• Plug: "Legendary writer Bagge (Hate) and artist Hernandez (Love and Rockets) teamed up ten years ago for this comic [Yeah!] about a spunky all-girl, all-universe rock band. Now the whole series has been collected for the punk/sci-fi girl in your life." – Dan Kois, New York
• Interview: Christopher John Farley has a brief Q&A with Paul Hornschemeier at The Wall Street Journal's Speakeasy blog: "I tend to write far more than I draw, I may have an image pop into my head, but those are usually just isolated points of inspiration: from there the writing takes over."
• Review: "Gilbert Hernandez is one of the great craftsmen of modern comics... Hernandez’s new Fritz book, Love from the Shadows, is as bracing as a slug of bottom-shelf rotgut.... Hernandez artfully approximates the broad, thrilling badness of late-night movies and their inept special effects, and uses it as an excuse to show off some of his gifts: spacious compositions built around texture as well as forms, pauses heavy with foreboding, a sense of body language and facial expressions so acute that we can recognize both the story’s characters and the 'actors' playing those characters." – Douglas Wolk, The New York Times Sunday Book Review
• Review: At CBR's Comics Should Be Good, Sonia Harris looks at Gilbert Hernandez's trilogy (so far) of "Fritz Films" graphic novels: "Filled with the longing of unfulfilled desire and lost innocence, these stories are the kind of schlock film that is accidentally life-alteringly great and I suspect Hernandez might have missed his calling as a screenwriter in the early ’60′s… That’s the thing, this kind of movie doesn’t really happen any more which is why Hernandez’ use of the comic book medium to tell Fritz’ movie roles is particularly delightful."
• Review: "In her debut release, Leslie Stein proves that comic strips are so much more than those old Cathy cartoons you'd read around the kitchen table on Sunday mornings. Instead, this semi-autobiographical tale,Eye of the Majestic Creature, follows protagonist Larrybear on a trippy journey throughout Chicago, San Francisco, and NYC in hopes of figuring out her life.... Drawn in a totally out-there Surrealist style, this quick page-turner is proof that while you might be too old for Garfield and Friends, there are cartoons you can still relate to...and love." – Liza Darwin, Nylon
• Review: "...Eye of the Majestic Creature... blend[s] autobiographical self-discovery, surreal free-association, philosophical ruminations, nostalgic reminiscences and devastatingly dry wit to describe life filtered through a seductive meta-fictional interior landscape. This lady laconically tans under vastly different suns and the results are enchanting and entrancing." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Review: "There’s precious little around for kids and especially girl readers in American funnybooks... so this intriguing and wildly imaginative series [Yeah!] which seamlessly combined fantasy, science fiction, fashion, pop and school cultures in a wild blend of frantic fun and thoroughly deserves another chance to shine." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Commentary: The anecdote and photo of a little girl and Yeah! that lead off Sonia Harris's latest "Committed" column for Comic Book Resources' Comics Should Be Good are beyond adorable
• Review: "Alex’s days are punctuated by alcoholic constipation, artist’s block, trashing his flat and avoiding childhood friends and his favourite teacher from high school, now a raving dipsomaniac surrounded by cats. He is also tormented by a rather good expressionist painting he apparently produced during a bender, and impure thoughts about his Asian neighbour and a beautiful former classmate... In short, a very good but not at all cheerful study of the consequences of achieving your ambitions when you’re a self-loathing dog-headed cartoonist." – Grant Buist, The Name of this Cartoon Is Brunswick
• Interview (Audio):Inkstuds host Robin McConnell and his cohort Colin Upton talk with fellow British Columbian Mark Kalesniko about his new graphic novel Freeway
• Commentary: Our own Eric Reynolds has become ESPN.com's go-to expert on baseball cartooning — the article also discusses Jack Davis's work for Topps
• Review: "Like Saturday morning cartoons, Yeah! was about a kind of science fiction that embraced weirdo aliens rather than science fact. From alt-comix came characters that were outcasts, lived on the margins of society, or had outsider personalities. Instead of being offensive and edgy, this unusual comic book series was imaginative and inventive. ...[I]t was an all-ages gem, and I’m glad that it's back..." – Leroy Douresseaux, I Reads You
• Review: "How does Peter Bagge stay so good after all these years? Hate Annual #9 was as good as any of the previous issues of Hate (possibly better?). I guess that's why he's one of the all time greats. He just stays good year after year, issue after issue. This latest offering involving Buddy and his wife Lisa and son Harold visiting Lisa's parents in Seattle was hilarious, awkward and sublime! It's a hell of an issue and I want to see what happens next..." – P.D. Houston, Renderwrx Productions
• Review: "I was not familiar with Leila Marzocchi's work before [Niger #3], so the subtlety and nuance of her scratchy dark art entranced me right away. It's spooky yet tame enough to remind me of top notch children's book style illustration.... The art is so lovely [that] even when I wasn't sure what exactly was happening story wise, the work on the page was enough to keep me involved." – P.D. Houston, Renderwrx Productions
• Coming Attractions: In the latest "Graphic Novel Prepub Alert" from Library Journal, Martha Cornog spotlights a bunch of our upcoming Fall releases:
Jack Davis: Drawing American Pop Culture: A Career Retrospective: "Boomer veterans of Mad magazine will remember Davis's exuberant caricatures, windows into the 1950s and 1960s. Davis also worked extensively on horror, war, and Western titles for EC Comics and other publishers, and his mangier version of the Crypt-Keeper became the character's portrait. Known as a super-fast worker, Davis turned out a huge amount of work, and this collection brings together a variety of comics and commercial art from every stage of his checkered career."
Oil & Water by Steve Duin & Shannon Wheeler: "In 2010, Duin and Wheeler joined a group from Oregon touring the environs of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. And, it appears, theirs is the first graphic novel reportage on the devastating BP blowout.... You will buy this."
The Hidden by Richard Sala: "Classic setup: a bunch of strangers stranded in a diner during a snowstorm, with a killer on the loose outside. And just for extra fun, maybe a global catastrophe in the works.... Clean line color drawings with a tongue-in-cheek feel."
Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910-2010 by Michael Kupperman: "The recent publication of Twain's real autobiography sets the stage for mocking the master of mockery, who surely would have chortled at the homage. This Twain tells of hunting the Yeti ('Come out here and face me, you snow-covered coward!'), meeting the Six Million Dollar Man, having a love affair with Mamie Eisenhower ('Boy oh boy, this lady was one hot dish'), and accidentally becoming involved in X-rated films. Proceed at your own risk!"
• Plug: "From his musings on Hamlet to his thoughts on the TV show Married..with Children, Alexander Theroux covers pop culture, literature, and high art while he takes us on a rambling tour of this tiny Baltic country. Theroux examines Estonia’s language and customs in order to get a larger view of a land which holds a population of less than two million. As he states, 'Seeing Estonia — disrobing her — was my focus.'" – Kathleen Massara, Flavorpill "10 Most Anticipated Summer Reads"
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