We were thrilled to have Patton Oswalt (the Funniest Comedian in America -- I said it) provide the introduction to Ivan Brunetti's latest gag cartoon collection Ho!, and now Ivan returns the favor by providing the Chick tract-inspired cover art for Patton's new DVD/album My Weakness Is Strong. More info on Patton's website; hat tip to Robin of Inkstuds for pointing it out on his Twitter feed. Isn't it great when great things get together?
Holy moly there's a lot of links today! There's a few major interviews in today's Online Commentary & Diversions, so let's lead off with those:
• Interview: At Amazon's Omnivoracious blog, Heidi Broadhead talks to our own Kim Thompson about translating the works of Jason ("His latest collection, Low Moon... has filmic moments and comic pathos that have set a new standard for me for short fiction") and other Eurocomics. Sample quote: "But I'm also more invested in these books because I work so hard on them, and in many cases, of course, such as Tardi, I'm literally fulfilling a childhood dream by translating them."
• Interview: "Carol Tyler is one of the best cartoonists currently working. She has been for years... Earlier this year Tyler released the first of an expected three volumes that seek to explore her father's time in World War II. You'll Never Know: A Good And Decent Man gently peels back the layers on these seminal experiences while at the same time providing an earnest portrait of the artist and her most important relationships during the time she started on the project. Tyler combines the unflinching eye of the late underground with the self-deprecating portrait of the alternative comics movement with the poetic qualities that some of the best post-alternatives are able to wring from their art. I really love Carol Tyler's work, and I was delighted she agreed to talk to me." - Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
• Interview: "In a perfect and just world, John Kerschbaum would be one of its most famous cartoonists." - Rob Clough, presenting his Q&A with Kerschbaum from The Comics Journal #295. Sample quote: "And when you're doing work for kids you just leave out the cursing… and tits - no tits."
• Review: "Wolverton... had a knack, too, for nightmarish drama... [He] saved his most enthralling pieces for the Bible. An ordained minister for a wacky Oregon church, he produced, in the mid 1950s, a series of apocalyptic scenes for the Book of Revelations; men and women, foregrounded in close-up, writhe under dominant skies of fire, plague, and war." - Robert Shuster, The Village Voice, on the Wolverton exhibit at Gladstone Gallery; hat tip once again to Drew Friedman
• Review: "Jason's unique skill of meshing cut-out Hollywood genres with fleeting moments of missed opportunities is like a unique cocktail - one part Hitchcock, one part Kubrick with a dash of Woody Allen... Low Moon is a slow-moving delight. Jason has crafted a perfectly executed yarn that is at once both familiar and bizarre. This collection is an exceptional entryway for reader still unaware of one of sequential arts greatest contributors." - Ascot J. Smith, examiner.com
• Review: "Known for his ability to convey melancholic, deadpan humor, Jason is as on top of his game as ever with this release... Each story expresses a different degree of the author’s range, mixing dark or mature themes with absurdity to varying degrees... Since it demonstrates Jason’s range and is priced fairly modestly..., Low Moon makes for a great starting point for those unfamiliar with Jason’s work." - Anthony Farruggia, examiner.com
• Review: "Jason's work is something to be revered... His comics are stark and morbid and often hilarious. Low Moon presents five beautifully illustrated stories that show a mastery of the craft... The stories range from violent to funny to sad, and the tragedies, murders, and pratfalls therein never seem out of the ordinary. It all fits into four rectangular panels on each page that seem like they were drawn to make you understand something more." - Gabe Bullard, PLAYBACK:stl
• Review: "Ho!... promises the most degenerate and juvenile one-panel gag comics ever penned by a working college professor... You're either loving it or deeply concerned for the author." - Byron Kerman, PLAYBACK:stl
• Review: "Kevin Huizenga introduces a relatable and unusual story with his quirky sequel to the first Ganges in the 'Ignatz' series from Fantagraphics. A tale about morality, realism, and video games, Ganges [#2] spins a web of confusion for those universal questions that lurk at the edge of our minds... 'Pulverize' makes a bold attempt to portray how living in a technological age can confuse as well as enlighten you to great lengths. Touching and unique, Huizenga creates a quirky story for the win." - Melissa Kay, Girls Entertainment Network
• Review: "My choice for the greatest comic strip in history would be Hal Foster's epic adventure strip Prince Valiant. And now Fantagraphics is reprinting the series in a series of spiffy, oversized hardcover collections, with the first volume out this week. And even though I own the whole 40-volume set of the Foster-drawn pages that Fantagraphics published in the 1990s, I’m perfectly happy to buy this new series, with larger pages, better-quality paper, and much better-quality coloring... It’s excellent stuff, and I look forward to enjoying it all over again." - Michael Rawdon, Fascination Tangents
• Review: "The most influential adventure strip ever produced, Foster's gorgeous Prince Valiant inspired generations of artists. While the Sunday-only strip has been reprinted several times, this edition contains for the first time images shot from Foster's own color engraver's proofs. Published at the strip's original dimensions and complete with an introduction by Hal Foster biographer Brian M. Kane and the insightful 1969 Hal Foster interview with Fred Schreiber, the hardcover Prince Valiant Vol. 1: 1937-1938 finally presents these lush tales in a format worthy of the material." - Rick Klaw, The SF Site - Nexus Graphica
• Review: "Like H.L. Mencken, [Peter] Bagge favors a scorched-earth satirical attack, tearing down arguments by ridicule as much as reason. Unlike Mencken, Bagge's work is more playful and less likely to attempt to install himself as a know-it-all (even if he thinks he does) because of his nebbishy self-portrayal... It's rare to see a cartoonist branch out into this kind of second act of a career with this much flourish and skill... his work here [in Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me] demands a reader's attention every bit as much as the more famous editorial cartoonists in America... Best of all, Bagge is still funny... and this is a very good thing for both his hardcore fans and new readers alike." - Rob Clough
• Review: "[Peter] Bagge made his reputation with the wicked social satire of Hate, but since 2001 he’s also produced these short comics [in Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me] for the libertarian magazine Reason... His visual style—in which people are all huge-mouthed, squinty-eyed, rubber-limbed caricatures—is turned up all the way to 'jeer'; it’s also pretty funny on its own. Bagge aims his (constitutionally protected) satirical blunderbuss at both the left and the right, and occasionally points it at fellow libertarians and even himself." - Publishers Weekly
• Review: "...Norwegian cartoonist Jason’s latest wheeze of a graphic novella [I Killed Adolf Hitler] invents a time-travelling professional assassin who attempts to exterminate the Fuhrer with predictably bizarre results... The deadpan humour, pared-down plotting and simple illustrations featuring Jason’s trademark zoomorphic characters make for a brisk and extremely enjoyable read." - 2012
• Plug: "OMG reading Low Moon on lunch IT IS SO GOOD how long can comics stay this awesome?" - Dustin Harbin, via Twitter
• Plug: Portuguese shop Ghoulgear recommends the comics work of Jason, "who reinvented the narrative language of comics... He is an author that is worth knowing."
• Plug: "There's some great material in [Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me], whether you agree with the opinions or not, since Bagge does some great cartooning and good journalism, providing hilarious insights into topics like art, public transportation, homelessness, and gun ownership." - Matthew J. Brady
• Plug: "[Love and Rockets] was like an underground Archie, with Hispanic characters, plus it was literally oozing with a sensuality that simply couldn't be found in mainstream funnybooks... If you have the opportunity to pick up any L&R comics, I highly recommend it, as it is still some of the consistently very best comics that is being produced." - Robert J. Sodaro (former Fantagraphics employee)
• Plug: "I’m currently reading through the latest issue of The Comics Journal, number 298... I’m really looking forward to the interview with Thriller artist Trevor Von Eeden. Also, the Percy Crosby Skippy strips included in the gallery section are a wonder." - Chris Mautner, Robot 6; also, their guest contributor this week is Paul Karasik
• Things to see: Comic Book Resources presents a bunch of work by Terry LaBan (whose Fantagraphics titles are all out of print)
• Review: The Star Clipper Blog on Boody. The Bizarre Comics of Boody Rogers: "To say Boody Rogers was ahead of his time is an understatement. Boody was underground before there was an underground. His comics were surreal and sexy before the Comics Code was even around to censor such outrageousness. Think of every bizarre and trippy moment from 40's Disney features, the overt sexuality of Fleischer Studios Betty Boop, and a Freak Show and Superman in a blender, and that's not even half as odd as Boody Rogers' comics. Will you have seen anything like it before? No, and you'll probably never see anything else like it again."
• Review: Blog @ Newsarama looks at Boody too: "[W]eirdness... permeates these stories and radiates outward from the pages. To say they're 'ahead of their time' would be an understatement; they seem like they were drawn just last week... [I]t's a beautiful book."
• Review: Obsessive-Repulsive finds a kindred spirit in the pages of the "rad" Ho! The Morally Questionable Cartoons of Ivan Brunetti: "I would go further than saying 'nothing is sacred' in his work and say that nothing is tolerated in Brunetti’s world. He skewers the hypocrisy, cruelty and weakness in people but it doesn’t appear that Brunetti loathes humanity nearly as much as he loathes himself. Check it out! Funny stuff!"
• Preview: Robot 6's "What Are You Reading?" column's guest contributor this week is Dash Shaw, and regular contributor Matthew Maxwell says of The Wolverton Bible, "Wow. Just wow... man, that’s a piece of work."
• Commentary: ReadingArt.ca imagines Snoopy's "It was a dark and stormy night" novel in a context of digital/mobile delivery (calling The Complete Peanuts "fantastically beautiful" while they're at it)
• Things to see/read: Conservative entertainment blog Big Hollywood has posted Steve Ditko's 2007 essay "Toyland" in its entirety (via Slog)
• Review: Comics Waiting Room on Ho! The Morally Questionable Cartoons of Ivan Brunetti: "...[I]f the material printed Ho! had been created in, say, Soviet Russia, Ivan would be the biggest star in the gulag. As it is, he’s one of the most twisted and funny motherfuckers putting pen to paper right in the U.S. of A. And I’m damned proud he’s one of us... Brunetti’s latest work is as strong as ever, and maybe even sicker. He’s an amazing cartoonist, and I respect his work immensely, even when some of it makes me queasy… especially if it makes me laugh then feel queasy."
• Reviews: The "What Are You Reading?" column at Robot 6 includes Tom Bondurant on Gilbert Hernandez's Heartbreak Soup ("At first I was afraid that Beto was introducing so many characters I wouldn’t be able to keep up with them, but the deeper I go into the book the better he manages everyone. The writing reminds me of Will Eisner’s slice-of-life stuff from his later career..."), Tim O'Shea on The Complete Peanuts 1969-1970 ("The intro by Mo Willems is great insight into what appealed to many about the series..."), Chris Mautner on A Mess of Everything by Miss Lasko-Gross ("[It] shows a good deal of progression [from Escape from "Special"], both in terms of storytelling and artistry"), and Jeff Lester on The Comics Journal Library Vol. 6: The Writers ("for which a more accurate title might have been 'Gary Groth Browbeats Bewildered Comics Writers'")
• Preview: Urban Aesthete looks at the forthcoming Abstract Comics anthology
• Profile: The Seattle Weekly, previewing Jaime's visit to Seattle, nicely describes Love and Rockets: "It’s a mutable universe that skips between characters at older and younger stages of life, where buxom pro wrestling queens, spaceship mechanics, and touring hardcore bands buoyantly intersect. No one stays lost for long; no grievance goes unforgotten; and deep-fried jungle slugs forever remain a delicacy."
Despite being mentioned by other sources, Paul Hornschemeier's Mother, Come Home is not on the official list, but you never know! Contact your local shop to confirm availability of these titles, and hit those links to see previews and gather more info. Happy shopping!
It's a honker today! Lots of good stuff out there:
• Review: Blogger Fionnchú considers the place of Alexander Theroux's Laura Warholic in the pantheon of "big, long, thick" maximalist novels (e.g. Wallace, Joyce, DeLillo, Pynchon)
• Review: The Tearoom of Despair pens a loving ode to The Comics Journal: "...[I]t remains the best magazine about comics I’ve ever had the pleasure to read, offering in-depth analysis that has changed my entire opinion of certain comics... And it has some of the best interviews with comic writers, artists and editors that have ever peen published in any medium... Overall, it is still an absolute pleasure to sit down with a new issue of The Comics Journal and read about the craft and love for the medium that is out there... It has recorded the history of comics with style and panache, has published the liveliest letter page in magazines and has been unfailing in its bid to raise comics as an art form."
• Review: Rob Clough has a typically thoughtful take on The Complete Peanuts 1971-1972: "The latest volume of The Complete Peanuts finds Charles Schulz still at his peak... a perfect blend of fantasy, whimsy, jokes, heartbreak, topical references and sturdy characterization."
• Blurb: The Seattle Times' roundup of notable new local books includes a mention of Humbug: "Includes satirical takes on highway congestion, time travel, consumer reports and perspiration."
• Preview: Fictional or not, The Rack's Lydia recommends Mother, Come Home by Paul Hornschemeier ("Paul Hornschemeier's comics always make me miserable, and in a good way. This is a new edition of my favorite work he's done so far.") and Ho! The Morally Questionable Cartoons of Ivan Brunetti ("I like him a lot, but I think that Johnny Ryan should be cutting Ivan Brunetti a check every month and this collection of gag cartoons will show you why") from this week's new comics
• Preview: The Comics Reporter, same tune, different lyrics: on Boody, "Some of the greatest, oddest comics of all time"; on Ho!, "relentlessly naughty... I like these quite a bit"; and on Supermen!, "I liked this book quite a bit... a bunch of frequently weird, hallucinatory adventure fantasies"
• Preview: Atomic Romance also anticipates Supermen!: "In your face golden age stories by some of the greats of comic book history... I love this because it’s a time of experimentation. The writers and artists are learning their craft and there aren’t any established rules yet. Sure to please fans of I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets."
• Preview: Yet more blurbage about this week's new comics, this time from Blog @ Newsarama: on Boody, "comics super-genius Boody Rogers’ work... is almost as beautiful as it is weird. Or almost as weird as it is beautiful. At any rate, it’s really weird and really beautiful"; on Supermen!: "[A] must-read... I can’t recommend this one highly enough"
• Interview: Publishers Weekly chats with C. Tyler about her new book You'll Never Know, Book 1; of the book they say "[Tyler] recreates the experience of thought, in which past and present, parents and children, relationships and variations of the self co-mingle, intersect, and layer over one another. Evocative words and images appear in the background or the margins of Tyler’s panels, drawing out subtleties of the story, or clueing us in to unspoken emotional tones."
• Review: 13 Milliones de Naves says Tim Lane's Abandoned Cars is "drawn with the raw precision of a compassionless physiognomist, with a style midway between Daniel Clowes and Charles Burns... removing the rubble from the shipwreck and bringing to the fore a collection of human beings in the state of abandonment... [T]his book is anything but indifferent; the realistic and stark graphic style of its author shakes with a flying kick... [T]he Lane name has many numbers to enter on the same roster as Tomine, Burns, Clowes and company." (Translated from Spanish with help from Google)
• Review: Bookgasm on Boody. The Bizarre Comics of Boody Rogers: "Each page of Boody is a delight to take in. These comics are colorful, good-natured and good-humored, full of pep and personality... Rogers definitely was ahead of his time, demonstrating more zeal for the medium than much of his contemporaries."
• Review: Rob Clough on Ho! The Morally Questionable Cartoons of Ivan Brunetti: "No other artist in the history of comics has worked out their misanthropy and self-loathing on the page quite like Ivan Brunetti... with each strip yet another needle jabbed into the eyes of his viewers. Brunetti's enormous discipline and talent as a cartoonist shines through in this collection..."
• Review: Entertainment Weekly gives Supermen! an A-, saying "Supermen!, this anthology lovingly assembled by Greg Sadowski, makes the case that these earliest endeavors by the future creators of masterworks like The Spirit, Captain America, and Plastic Man were more than crude throat-clearings — they were unfiltered manifestations of psyche, lousy with erotic charge and questionable politics."
• Review: Graphic Novel Reporter on Abandoned Cars by Tim Lane: "Abandoned Cars doesn’t arrive at a clear-cut solution to the American Myth, but Lane’s effort to understand it for himself is beautifully presented... every last detail of the book seems perfectly devised by Lane to bring the stories together and make the reader join the inner dialogue on the subject of the Great American Mythological Drama. It is a brilliant debut."
• Things to see (and buy if you're filthy rich): The Daily Cartoonist reports that the original art for the April 1, 1973 Sunday Peanuts is up for auction. Go bid, or save yourself a few thou by collecting the strip in The Complete Peanuts 1972-1973, coming this Fall
• Review: For The Savage Critics, Sean T. Collins says The Last Lonely Saturday by Jordan Crane is "pretty much the best love story in comics form I've ever come across... It's an intelligent, moving, beautiful, terrific little comic."
• Review: Rob Clough says that Beasts! Book 2 "mingles myths, warnings, fairy tales, correctives, and genuinely unexplained phenomena and allows its artists to run with them. The end result is a consistently beautiful, lovingly assembled book that forms a kind of metacommentary on the entire notion of the fantastic."
• Review: The SF Site's "Nexus Graphica" says R. Crumb & David Zane Mairowitz's Kafka is "a terrific guide to Kafka's life and work — Mairowitz deftly sums up Franz' family/Jewish/pre-Holocaust European experiences and influences, and Crumb's heavy inkings lend the exact tones of darkness to recreations of both Kafka's life — and work." (See sidebar)
• Preview: The First Post presents a slideshow of images from Humbug, saying "the short-lived Humbug [was] an exquisite satirical work that, over its 11 issues, routinely equalled MAD in its displays of creative genius... providing a level of trenchant satire that was almost unheard of at the time."
• Preview: Bryan Munn, in "hyping" The Complete Peanuts 1971-1972, states "Now that two whole decades of Peanuts have been reprinted in the deluxe hardcover format published by Fantagraphics and designed by Seth, we can really get a sense of what a huge achievement this project is and will continue to be for a generation."
Hoping to further increase his irrelevance to the esteemed world of graphic novels and thus cement his status as “former cartoonist,” the saturnine Ivan Brunetti (author of the acclaimed Misery Loves Comedy and editor of Yale Press’s two essential Anthologies of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons and True Stories) has compiled HO!, which collects the vast majority of his morally questionable, aesthetically confused — and absolutely gut-busting — “gag” cartoons.
Culled mostly from out-of-print work (Hee! and Haw!) and other anthologies, the contents are discreetly presented in an uninviting, funereal package of unglamorous black and white. Hopefully, this will keep the impressionable, young, and faint-of-heart unintrigued and at a distance, while those who appreciate a touch of the gallows in their humor can enjoy an uncomfortable chuckle or two before the merciless thumb of oblivion grinds us all into less than dust.
HO! further cements Brunetti’s reputation as the contemporary king of the gag cartoon, a sentiment echoed by noted comedian Patton Oswalt (The King of Queens, Comedians of Comedy) in his introduction.
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