San Diego hosts Comic Con International this week and every comics "insider" has an opinion about CCI and most of the opinions I hear are exasperated ones, heavy with a burned-out tone. Granted, I've only been to one year of Comic Con-- 2007-- but I loved it. I'm a guy who hates crowds but still I LOVE COMIC CON. Comic Con is filled wall-to-wall with people who are SO FUCKING EXCITED to be THERE. Everyone is excited just to be among comics and people who also like comics. Not that they know what to do with that energy-- it's still largely poorly-socialized individuals-- but they are EXCITED.
In fact, literally 10% or better of them are so excited that they even made a costume to show everyone how excited they are to be in this place. Probably more than that. I mean, some people you see and their queer pastiche of street clothes and odd baubles makes you wonder if they maybe started off at 5 in the morning donning a fantastically curated getup and then slowly, over breakfast and the drive down, began to question their confidence about walking around as a superhero so now they just have the appearance of someone who got off work, went to the gym, then a disco bar, and got too drunk to remember which clothes were for what. AND IT DOESN'T MATTER. The saggy guy still gets to walk among the throngs as Superman in public for a day, which is more than Clark Kent ever got to do.
Anyway, I love that energy. Even guys like Eric Reynolds, third arm at Fantagraphics, has gone to Comic Con every year for something like twenty years (except the one year his daughter was born) and he gets weary but, still, he loves it. He loves any opportunity to see masters of the medium, like the Hernandez Brothers. Here he is enjoying Gilbert's and Mario's company:
Of course, he'd say he loves all the Bros. equally but he clearly REALLY enjoys Jaime best:
The point is Eric's just another guy who loves comics in a sea of people who seriously love comics. And everybody there has the chance to talk with a hero.
In 2007 I got to meet Kevin Eastman, who was a ridiculously nice guy. He was supposed to contribute to BEASTS2 but I guess he didn't get my emails:
Even Steven Weissman got the chance to meet a hero. Here he is with Gwar or maybe it's just an S&M community theatre troop. I guess I'm not sure but he and the guy in underpants were both pretty happy to see each other:
But, alas, this year the Art Department of Fantagraphics Books (Adam Grano and I) are just too busy to trek down to The Con. Besides having too much work to do, we are spearheading the first ever Fantacon, which is mostly just him and me drinking a beer at lunch. But crowds are welcome.
NOTE: Thanks to Mike and Janice for the photo of the TMNT bus rolling into SD09.
This coming week Kevin Huizenga will be delivering the hotly-anticipated Ganges #3, featuring insomnia and cops. Expect this one to be released just in time to premiere at SPX in late September, and then show up in stores in late October/early November. Here is a preview!
Next up, likely to be released toward the end of the year, is a double whammy of Niger #3 by Leila Marzocchi (check out the cover of this wild ecological fable), and the fourth and concluding installment of Ponchione's Grotesque (with another standalone story). Then Spring 2010 will, if everything goes well, see the release of the fourth issue of Igort's cartoonist-graphic-novel-a-clef Baobab; the fourth (and concluding) issue of Gabriella Giandelli's hard-to-pronounce magical apartment building story Interiorae; and the third issue of Zak Sally's otherworldly picaresque Sammy the Mouse.
Missing in action at this point, alas, are new issues of the Gipi series Wish You Were Here and Marti 's Calvario Hills, as both cartoonists are focusing on other work at this time, but we're keeping our fingers crossed there will be a new issue of David B.'s Babel sometime in 2010.
Of course, if you've missed picking up any of these issues in the past (including the already concluded three-issue series New Tales of Palomar by Gilbert Hernandez, Reflections by Marco Corona, and Insomnia by Matt Broersma), remember, any comic you haven't read yet is a new comic...
Is this a shout-out to Gilbert Hernandez's Palomar delicacy on Kitty Pryde's baseball cap in my battered thrift-store copy of Uncanny X-Men #201 (Jan. 1986), or just a bilingual pun? Either way, very cute, Chris Claremont, Rick Leonardi and/or Whilce Portacio. Or was letterer Tom Orzechowski responsible? So many mysteries!
Online Commentary & Diversions will return Monday. Have a great holiday in the US of A.
• Review: "Like many mysteries, there's something initially frustrating about the end of 'Emily Says Hello,' but it's the best by Jason for a while... it's in the new Low Moon collection... Worth it for 'Emily' alone." - Graham Linehan (The IT Crowd, Father Ted), via Twitter (part 1, part 2)
• Review: "A thin line exists between [Basil] Wolverton’s jokey grotesqueries and the horrors of disfigurement and mutilation that appear in his postwar illustrations of the Book of Revelations (recently published in The Wolverton Bible)... Wolverton’s unsparing depictions of nightmarish prophecies are relentlessly grim but absorbingly so. There are hints of Goya’s crazed, melancholic Saturn and predictions of Charles Burns’s brooding mutant teens." - Nicole Rudick, Artforum (reviewing the Wolverton exhibit currently on view at Gladstone Gallery; hat tip to Drew Friedman)
• Review: "Oh my god.It’s like someone wheeled my senile, racist grandfather onto a metropolitan sidewalk and let him free associate.Unfortunately, my grandfather’s psychosis might have more acuity and humor than Everyone is Stupid [Except for Me]." - Ashley Cardiff, CC2K (via Reason link below; don't say we never post negative reviews)
• Review: "Michael Kupperman is the funniest cartoonist alive, and Tales Designed to Thrizzle is his funniest comic book... Thrizzle has the manic joy of a really good sketch-comedy series... Thrizzle was originally published as four comics, and Kupperman has recolored the series for its hardcover release... [It] should amuse just about anyone who can read." - Paul Constant, The Stranger
• Review: "[Fletcher] Hanks's stuff burns itself into and onto the brain like a giant scalding iron of dementedness." - fústar
• Review: "Certainly nobody takes umbrage with the claim that these are four awesome comics, collected in one hardcover edition [Blazing Combat]... Fantagraphics have done us a big favor by reprinting them all." - The Comic Book Haters (streaming video)
• Plug: "...Reason's own beloved Peter Bagge has a fantastic collection of a near-decade's worth of political cartooning coming out from Fantagraphics [Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me]. The content is king but the actual production is nothing short of stunning, filled with the bright, bright colors that Paul Simon used to sing about back when Kodak was still making film." - Nick Gillespie, Reason
• Interview: At comiXology, Tucker Stone interviews The Comics Journal online editor, the ista! in ¡Journalista!, my comrade-in-linkblogging-arms, Dirk Deppey. Pull quote of all pull quotes: "I got the job at Fantagraphics by making fun of The Comics Journal's website on its message board, basically."
If you're not a fan of Love and Rockets on Facebook, this is the kind of thing you're missing. My L&R page co-admin, Carol Hernandez, has been posting lots of goodies, including rare photos and sketches from the early days. Hot patootie!
• List: Bdzoom reports that l'Association des Critiques et journalistes de Bande Dessinée (ACBD) has placed Bottomless Belly Button by Dash Shaw on their summer reading shortlist (there's Tardi on there too)
• Review: "Nell Brinkley was an icon for several generations of women... The art [in The Brinkley Girls] has been beautifully restored, a task that must have been pure torture given the density of Brinkley's drawings and that sophisticated color work. My hat's off to whoever did that fabulous job." - Allan Holtz, Stripper's Guide
• Review: "At one point in her comic-style memoir [You'll Never Know Book 1: A Good and Decent Man], Carol [Tyler] talks to us directly and says, 'The war was never really buried under tons of mental concrete. Rather, it was an active shaper of life, affecting moods and outcomes ... more than anyone ever knew.' Indeed. This is an important and deeply spiritual contribution to American culture." - David Crumm, Read the Spirit
• Review: "[You'll Never Know Book 1: A Good and Decent Man] is not your blood and guts portrayal of a ruthless soldier but rather an investigation into the emotional costs that war has on the combatant and the family that they sire, presenting a familiar story of the 'greatest generation' in an unfamiliar way." - Quentin Williams, two.one.five Magazine
• Review: "...Supermen! [is] a beautifully designed volume of early American comics... The edition is both aesthetically pleasing and sturdy, featuring clarified reprinting of the colour strips, covers, and scattered elements of advertisements and back matter." - Michael Leader, Den of Geek
• Review: "[West Coast Blues] is everything you would expect from a suspense thriller... Visually the comic book is also great. It's everything you would expect from Tardi... I don't believe that anybody else than him would have been able to visually translate Manchette's novel so well. It's like they worked together and that the comic book is the original material. Bottom line, this is another great comic book by Tardi. If you have never read anything by him you should. Luckily for North American readers, Fantagraphics announced that they that they were going to translate Tardi's work starting this fall." - Patrick Bérubé, Comic Book Bin
• Review: "You Shall Die By Your Own Evil Creation!... gathers all the remaining material that the alcoholic, abusive [Fletcher] Hanks did during his brief tenure as a comic book creator in the late 1930s and early 40s... [T]here’s still plenty of weird and wonderful tales to delight and disturb... [and] there are panels here that are rather stunning in their ability to create tension and drama... The work remains strange, powerful, funny, terrifying and yes, at times beautiful..." - Chris Mautner, Robot 6 (be sure to read the comments for an important clarification from editor Paul Karasik)
• Review: "Fans of Norwegian cult comics star Jason are in for something of a treat with Low Moon... what we have here are five stories, each of which would’ve previously warranted a collection in its own right, delivered together in one delicious hamper of Jason goodness... There’s never been a better time, then, to jump aboard the Jason train... This is as essential as comics gets." - Bookmunch
• Review: "It’s hard to think of a modern cartoonist with a more recognizable drawing style than Norway’s Jason... But Jason’s storytelling is just as distinctive as his drawing style... [and] the artist’s narrative approach has grown more adventurous over the years. Jason’s latest collection, Low Moon, is evidence of this trend... The reader, meanwhile, just lapses into a giddy comics coma." - Casey Jarman, Willamette Week
• Preview: Previews posts 7 pages from Low Moon. Have we mentioned it's in stores today?
• Interview: Brian Heater of The Daily Cross Hatch concludes his 2-part chat with "the visionary" Jason. Sample quote: "I worked in a furniture factory for nine months... I really hated it. So I went to art school instead. Turned out to be not that much of a difference, of course."
• Interview: The hosts of The Comix Claptrap podcast "talk comics shop and try to get LA gossip from talented cartoonist, John Pham, of Sublife, Kramers Ergot 7 and Mome fame"
• Plug: "Low Moon: It’s the latest from Jason. Or, in other words, it’s one of this week’s absolute must-reads." - J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
• Plug: "Pick of the week: Low Moon... [B]y this point Jason has proven himself to be one of the stellar talents in Fantagraphics' roster (which is really saying something, by the way) and this collection of short stories... should likely only cement that reputation as the artist plays with such traditional genres as the Western, film noir, and alien abductions. All offered with the usual dollops of sardonic humor and heartfelt sympathy." - Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Plug: "Low Moon: New Jason, from Fantagraphics. All I need to know... This guy's a treasure." - Jog - The Blog
• Plug: John Jakala of Sporadic Sequential takes us to task for the smaller trim size of Luba vs. Palomar, but concedes "the smaller size is actually easier to handle when reading. OK, you win this round, Fantagraphics"
Yes, we're late picking this up, but in further "mainstream properties kyping our talent" news: In case you were wondering how the Bongo Comics folks could top last year's The Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror contribution from Gilbert Hernandez, this year they asked Sammy Harkham to guest-edit (I guess he and Matt Groening hit it off after Sammy asked Matt to be in Kramer's Ergot #7) and he's put together an unbelievable roster for this year's issue. In the words of Krusty the Clown, "Oscar Homolka!" Robot 6 has the solicitation copy and further details, and I'll echo J.K. Parkin's assessment of "must buy."
Still catching up with Online Commentary & Diversions. There's more, but I'm out of time, so more catch-up tomorrow!
• Review: "The backbone of the family, and also its Achilles heel, Luba is a larger-than-life personality who jumps off every page, whether she's the focus of the segment or just a background player. [Gilbert] Hernandez collects over 100 stories here, ranging from graphic novellas to single-page episodes, with his usual dizzying cocktail of sexual intrigue, humor and soap opera-style angst." - Publishers Weekly (Starred Review - near end of page)
• Review: "There are two excellent interviews in the back of [Blazing Combat]... The interviews are part of what makes the comic so fascinating. Of course, it wouldn’t matter if the stories weren’t good, and they are... [Archie] Goodwin does a fine job keeping each story fresh and even getting into the heads of the characters... It’s a testament to Goodwin’s ability that he manages to write 28 (generally) anti-war stories, but never feels like he’s simply repeating himself... The art helps the book shine, as well... There’s not a poorly-illustrated story in the entire book, and some are eerily beautiful... These are both excellent comics and fascinating historical documents, and Blazing Combat is totally worth a read." - Greg Burgas, Comic Book Resources
• Profile: I don't think I would have guessed that Joost Swarte was influenced by Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, but so says he: The Walrus spotlights Swarte, who provides a cover illustration for the current issue, and whose long-gestating Fantagraphics collection Modern Swarte is still in the works
• Interview: At Newsarama, Zack Smith enjoys a lengthy chat with Jules Feiffer (and breaks the news to him that Explainers is nominated for an Eisner Award... oops, sorry Jules)
• List: Moolies posts his/her (?) "Top 10 graphic novels," including Safe Area Gorazde by Joe Sacco ("It's truly appalling reading, and the reason is because he's such a great artist, and a great listener too"), Peter Bagge's Buddy Bradley saga ("There's so much painful and embarrassing truth in Bagge's work, and it's carried along by a sharp, wisecracking sense of humour"), and Love and Rockets ("A stunning, extraordinary, even feminist (or humanist) body of work... It's always a joy, and I'm so glad they're still writing these stories")
• Plug: "We should all learn about Nell Brinkley in college. So if you’re currently in college, go check out The Brinkley Girls already. And if you’re out of college already, well go check it out anyway, because everyone seriously needs to see this book—Brinkley was that good." - J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
Your Online Commentary & Diversions return from a short vacation. More catch-up tomorrow.
• Review: "[C.] Tyler’s fluid, expressive linework, complemented by subtly overlaid watercolors, gives ideal visual expression to a narrative that’s at once sensitive and hard-nosed. [You'll Never Know, Book 1] is Tyler’s first book-length effort, but decades of drawing mostly autobiographical stories have honed her skills, enabling her to produce a work that ranks in quality with the graphic memoirs of Alison Bechdel (Fun Home) and Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis)." - Gordon Flagg, Booklist (Starred Review; no link)
• Review: "Norwegian-French cartoonist Jason’s new book [Low Moon] is the first premiered in hardcover in the U.S. and contains his most minimally formatted stories... If you’re into genre fiction, have a sense of humor but no time for condescension, and haven’t encountered Jason yet, wait no longer." - Ray Olson, Booklist (Starred Review; no link)
• Review: "This is the best thing I have ever been sent to review. I didn't think that this book would ever exist but now it does and it'd better than I could have imagined... The eleven issues of Humbug are faithfully reprinted in this two-volume hardcover set and it comes in a fancy and sturdy box. The magazines were funny and beautiful with art by Will Elder and Jack Davis and some other folks. If you don't buy this book then I don't want to know you... There is no excuse for not buying this right now. Sell your hair, blood, or skin to get it." - Nick Gazin, Vice
• Review: "Luba encompasses everything a turn-of-the-21st-century graphic novel should be: paraliterary or lowbrow tropes of comics, pornography, soap opera, blended seamlessly with a highbrow literary accomplishment of pathos and familial history. It is as profane as it is dense. Almost postmodern in its self-reference... and frequently silly in its blatant cartoonishness, Luba is surreal and bizarre and arousing and gut-wrenching and hilarious." - Dusty Horn, CarnalNation
• Review: "If you grew up 'different'... you’ll find a lot that’s familiar in A Mess of Everything. [Miss] Lasko-Gross is close enough to this material to keep it particular – she avoids the sweeping gesture and the grand statement at all times – and distanced enough from it to see it as part of her past, fodder for stories rather than a raw wound. It’s a fine book from a very talented creator, and I expect we’ll see much more from Miss Lasko-Gross as the years go on." - Andrew Wheeler, ComicMix
• Review: "...[Miss Lasko-Gross] displays... subtlety and balance in her portrayal of her teen-age years... [I]n its portrayal of the importance and tenuous nature of teenage friendships, [A Mess of Everything] glows with sharp recognition." - Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "[Uptight #3] is very very good... The plot [of 'Vicissitude'] is a bitter little thing, steeped in infidelity, alcohol, career dissatisfaction, hints of class self-consciousness, and frustration with the path your life has taken -- like a Pulp song, almost.... Crane's Sam and Jack stories unfold like the pipes and vents upon which this tale centers: they bend and twist and wind in comically baroque ways, yet Crane's control of his visuals and the story's tone are so self-assured that it all seems completely logical, like a mind consciously built it this way and if you have a little faith, it'll work like it's supposed to." - Sean T. Collins
• Review: "Just a quick mention of what may turn out to be my favorite damn cover of 2009... check out Uptight issue #3..." - Blair Butler, G4 Fresh Ink Online (video; review starts around 1:34)
• Plug: "Jason is really one of the best cartoonists at work today, and you should check out this reading." - Paul Constant, The Stranger, recommending last Saturday's appearance by Jason at our Seattle bookstore
• Interview: Brian Heater of The Daily Cross Hatch got some face time for a Q&A with Jason at the 2009 MoCCA Festival. Sample quote: "I think it’s fun to bring different genres together and try to bring in something new, to see it from a new angle, that it’s a bit more than just a pastiche."
• Interview: "Frankly, I think it's a losing game to try to generalize about the relationship between biography and literature." - Chris Ware, interviewed by Joan Luna at 13 Milliones de Naves (translation from Google)
• Preview: ICv2 takes a peek at our upcoming collection Gahan Wilson: 50 Years of Playboy Cartoons
• Preview: The Geek Curmudgeon looks forward to From Wonderland with Love: Danish Comics in the Third Millennium
• Events: Zane Austin Grant of PopMatters reports from the "Ah, Humbug!" panel with Al Jaffee and Arnold Roth at the 2009 MoCCA Festival
• Things to see: At Truthout.org, a Drew Friedman illustration from Time illustrates a Bill Maher editorial from the Los Angeles Times
• Staff news: Fantagraphics warehouse manager and noted practitioner of visual poetry Nico Vassilakis has a new book, Protracted Type, which can be purchased or downloaded here
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