We are pleased to share the news that Joyce Farmer's graphic memoir Special Exits has been nominated for the 2010 NCS Division Award for Graphic Novels! The winner will be announced at the 65th Annual NCS Reuben Awards banquet on May 28, 2011 in Boston, MA. Congratulations Joyce!
(We're also rooting for Stan Sakai, nominated in the Comic Books division for his ongoing (formerly-Fantagraphics) Usagi Yojimbo series!)
• Review: "Does this make Special Exits seem like a downer? Good. It is a downer. It's also funny and touching, and gratifyingly cleareyed about the messy emotions involved in caring for aging parents. [...] It's no spoiler to reveal that Special Exits doesn't have a happy ending. After all, no one gets a happy ending. But thanks to the hard work and loving care of Laura — and some heaven-sent hospice workers — her parents die more gracefully than many. And thanks to the thoughtful writing and art of Joyce Farmer, their lives and deaths will be a comfort to readers beginning to consider the end of their parents' lives — or their own." – Dan Kois, The Washington Post
• Review: "...Joyce Farmer’s Special Exits depicts old age as a wild, lurching ride from medical crises to euphoric nostalgia to an eerie calm as the end draws near. [...] Aging and dying are rare topics in literature and cinema, let alone in comics, which makes Special Exits an automatic standout. But it would be an excellent book even if the shelves were full of fictionalized memoirs about elder care." – The A.V. Club
• Review: "...[W]ith Special Exits, Farmer delivers a wonderful memoir about her aging parents and their aging process. [...] This is no quick read, nor is it an easy one. It’s intentionally difficult at times, because it’s unflinching. This story will resonate and it will haunt you. But it will also impress you. Farmer doesn’t pull punches, but she doesn’t go for self-pity either. Special Exits is a loving tribute to life’s final moments, and the love that is left behind after we leave." – John Hogan, Graphic Novel Reporter
• Review: "Buz Sawyer: The War in the Pacific covers the first couple of years of the strip... [and] damned if these early Buz Sawyers aren’t still a blast to read, with lots of gorgeous drawings of aircraft and a devil-may-care hero who somehow finds women to snuggle up to and joy to be had even in the Pacific Theater of WWII." – The A.V. Club
• Review: "[21: The Story of Roberto Clemente] is a reverent, yet sometimes playful look at the man and what he had to go through to get where he did. [...] The scenes with the various family members remind me a bit of what Gilbert Hernandez gets up to in Love and Rockets, that same sort of close-knit relationship thing. [...] Santiago’s art is cartoonish, yet expressionistic and appealingly loose. [...] He does a great job, and even the best of the best often have trouble with this, of drawing baseball players that actually look like baseball players — at bat, in the field, running, catching the ball. [...] He really captures the action of the game very well, and it’s kinda hard to describe — it’s really some daredevil storytelling at times." – Johnny Bacardi, Popdose
• Review: "After reading the first volume of Fantagraphics excellent reprinting of Hal Foster’s creation [Prince Valiant], I’m surprised at the life within this antique. It’s no surprise that the art is beautiful. Foster’s figures have a fine, illustrated detail — rarely seen on the comics page — but they’re full of energy as they joust, dive and play at swords." – James Seidler, Ape Mind Transcripts
• Profile: "[Special Exits] was fueled by Farmer's personal outrage at the unacceptable treatment of her elderly parents at the hands of medical and nursing home establishments. And she'll pooh-pooh the idea that making the book was psychological therapy of any sort. 'It was in no way cathartic. It was really, really depressing,' she told me any number of times. This is classic Joyce Farmer, drawing, writing, and satirizing taboo and socially risky subjects." – Kathleen Vanesian, Phoenix New Times
• Interview: Leah Berkenwald of Jewesses with Attitude (the blog of the Jewish Women's Archive) talks to Miss Lasko-Gross about her participation in the Graphic Details exhibit: "Q: How does your Jewish identity influence your work? L-G: I don't know that it does, but in the auto-bio game having a genetic predisposition to being a neurotic mess doesn't hurt." (Via Heeb)
On Tuesday, February 22, 2011, at 7 PM, Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, AZ and the ASU Art Museum present underground comic artist Joyce Farmer and her book Special Exits, which R. Crumb calls “one of the best long-narrative comics I’ve ever read, right up there with Gen of Hiroshima and Maus.” Local artist and ASU intermedia instructor Jon Haddock, co-founder of the Comic Book Creators Support Group, leads a discussion and Q&A with the author.
• Review: "Hell fuckin’ yeah. New Prince Valiant. Fantagraphics really does these reprints right. While they could easily pump out lazy reissues of the same poorly recolored old strips like everyone else did before them, they actually go ahead and find the original colors and it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before. Unless you were reading Prince Valiant in the newspaper back in the early 40s. [...] The whole story is sick as hell from beginning to end. [...] What a book! For thirty bucks you get to own some of the prettiest comics that anyone's ever seen printed up like no one's ever done." – Nick Gazin, Vice
• Review: "Well, Fantagraphics Books has been printing some hefty collections of Peanuts for several years — each volume covers two years and has an introductory essay and an index (so you can easily find Joe Cool or all the references to Bo Derek). The bulk of the book, of course, is just the strips themselves, offered in chronological order without annotation or commentary so they can speak for themselves. They sent me their latest, 1979-1980, which is already the fifteenth volume in the series (and they still have twenty years to go). But you can pretty much start anywhere and be guaranteed a wonderful collection." – Jonathan Liu, Wired
• Review: "Fantagraphics’ new collection of the first two volumes [of Adèle Blanc-Sec]... in a sturdy hardback format is, if not a revelation, certainly the best presentation the material has had in English. Kim Thompson’s translation brings out the sardonic inelegance of Tardi’s dialogue much better than Lofficier’s workmanlike adventure-script translation from nearly twenty years ago, the colors are much more vibrant, and the linework better preserved... and they’re built to last, the definitive version of the work. ...Tardi is a deep cynic who uses the breathless, endlessly-deferred structure of serialized comics to comment on the futility of action and the wretchedness of history’s march. Tardi’s meticulously detailed, enormously evocative Paris is a place to luxuriate in again and again..." – Jonathan Bogart, FA
• Plug: "A new graphic novel by Jim Woodring? A mere year after the great Weathercraft? Yes, somehow, in between dreaming about his giant steel nib pen, Woodring managed to draw a whole new book." – Heidi MacDonald, The Beat
• Review: "I’ll admit that Blecky Yuckerella isn’t a comic for everyone, and that Johnny Ryan’s sense of humour is definitely an acquired taste. However, if you’ve got a sick sense of humour, like I have, you will laugh your ass off non-stop, as you read this hilarious collection from cover to cover. I loved it so much that I actually contacted Johnny Ryan by email and purchased the original artwork for the very last Blecky strip from him. If that’s not a seal of approval, I don’t know what is!" – Edward Kaye, Hypergeek
• Scene/Profile: At Comic Book Resources, Josie Campbell reports from Joyce Farmer's recent appearance at Skylight Books: "Farmer spoke frankly about the detrimental treatment her stepmother received while in a nursing home, culminating in her falling out of bed due to the orderlies' negligence. 'They killed her,' said Farmer. 'You drop an eighty-six year old person three feet to a concrete floor, it's going to end their life.' Despite its dark tones and serious subject matter, Farmer emphasized the important role humor played in the novel and in her parent's lives. 'I wanted to keep humor in the book,' said Farmer. 'I had a lot of fun in there, a lot of funny stories. I tried to make it an honest book, and show the universal in the daily minutia.'" [Edited to reflect a corrected byline.]
• Review: "Special Exits stands out at one of 2010’s best comic books, a fitting tribute to Joyce Farmer’s parents that tackles, head on, the heartbreaking inevitable process of losing one's parents. The result is one of the most human and most affecting comics of recent memory..." – Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama
• Review: "...Usagi Yojimbo is a work of pure joy ... I’ve waited with fingers crossed for a sufficient entry point into Sakai’s ever-broadening world, and thankfully, one couldn’t ask for a more perfect red carpet than Usagi Yojimbo: The Special Edition. ...[F]or those waiting idly by for an excuse to dive into Usagi, this Special Edition offers up about 1,200." – Brian Heater, The Daily Cross Hatch
• Review: "Surrealism is dangerous. Mostly, when you leave the rails, the result is less glorious freedom and more quick kablooie. It’s an easy method for the lazy writer, but somehow when Ray Fenwick does it, it works. Mascots, his second book, is short on — but not absent — narrative. Its pages are made up of paintings on book covers that are largely text-based... Somehow, they hang together enough to produce a fuzzy but charming impression." – Hillary Brown, Paste
• Review: "...[T]he impressive thing about [Special Exits] is that, despite depressing subject matter, it’s extremely readable and fairly funny. Yes, you’ll think about the horrors of getting old and failing to maintain your independence, not to mention the even scarier prospect of taking care of your own parents. But if Farmer’s book is meant to soothe your fears, it kind of works." – Hillary Brown, Paste
• Review: "The black-and-white Hey, Wait… and Sshhh! are low-key ruminations on grief, loss and aging that bear Jason’s trademark anthropomorphic animals, clean lines and Scandinavian black humor. [...] Jason’s beautiful craftsmanship overcomes The Iron Wagon’s familiar material and, along with the rest of What I Did, foreshadows the excellent work to come later in the decade." – Garrett Martin, Paste
• Review: "There's no doubt in anyone's mind that Roy Crane was a first-class cartoonist, frequently making panels on the newspaper page that were absolutely to die for, stop-and-study moments of the kind that inspire the best students and discourage the worst. There are times when reading these rousing adventures of Navy pilot Buz Sawyer and his support man Roscoe Sweeney that it's hard to believe anything this striking ever appeared on the comics pages..." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
• Review: "A book like this should be must reading for those who want to know how the shojo we know today came to be. A Drunken Dream and Other Stories is not just for lovers of girl's manga, however. It's a book worthy to be read by anyone who likes good comics with a touch of fantasy and a touch of sadness. As with any book by a great creator, the appeal is almost universal... Hopefully, this will be the start of getting Hagio's name on the same pillar as Tezuka, which is clearly where she belongs. If by some chance you haven't read this manga yet, you owe it to yourself to find a copy right away. [...] This is one of those books that is not to be missed. It's destined to be a classic." – Rob McMonigal, Panel Patter
• Review: "...[E]ach page is a single panel, but each of those panels is so attractively detailed and evocative that the storytelling structure never feels rigid. Instead, it comes across as economical and precise while still filled with event and emotion. It’s a quick read, but it’s very satisfying, and it just invites you to revisit the story again. [...] Set to Sea ... is artistically successful on every front, but Weing’s substantial craftsmanship never overwhelms the simple, heartfelt story he’s telling." – David Welsh, The Manga Curmudgeon
• Review: "Destroy All Movies is an addictive, ambitious, behemoth of a book and it’s funny as all hell. There are too many sidesplitting takedowns of bad movies to list in this review, but if you enjoy bad movies (and especially if you enjoy stuff like Mystery Science Theater 3000), you will love this book. [...] Destroy All Movies truly shines as a lengthy love letter to cult cinema, punk pride notwithstanding. [...] You will want to refer to it and reread it over and over. It’s got that much good, not-so-clean, fun packed into its 500-plus pages." – Less Lee Moore, Popshifter
• Reviews (Audio): The new episode of Easy Rider, the radio show for "rock, punk rock, country, power pop, garage and comics" from Radio PFM out of Arras in northern France, features FUC_ __U, _SS __LE: Blecky Yuckerella Vol. 4 by Johnny Ryan and Bent by Dave Cooper among their Comics of the Week
• Plugs: Chris Mautner of Robot 6 on the newest volumes of Krazy & Ignatz, Popeye & Prince Valiant: "What stands out for me here, other than George Herriman’s usual artistry, is the subtle jokes about race… Considering Herriman’s own ethnic and racial heritage, I find moments like this fascinatingly telling. [...] I’ve gone on and on about my love for Segar’s Thimble Theater… Suffice it to say I think it’s an American classic and earns my heartiest recommendation… I still can’t quite get over just how much fun Hal Foster’s medieval epic is. Far from the dull, staid, storybook slog a first glance would suggest, the strip bursts with life and adventure, and not a little bit of bloodsport."
• Interview: Tom Spurgeon at The Comics Reporter: "It's my hope that the following interview with Tim Kreider comes close to replicating the experience of reading the author's new book, the Fantagraphics-published February offering Twilight of the Assholes. Both are long, both I hope are funny at times nearly all the way through (the book surely is), and both book and interview prove uncompromising in terms of both self-laceration and repeatedly stabbing the country's excesses, shortcomings and hypocrisies right in the face. [...] Kreider is... maybe as skilled a writer as there is out there also working with cartoons, and luckily Twilight of the Assholes includes both the cartoons and mini-essays explaining each one. I find him almost terrifyingly funny, both when I agree with him and when I don't." Kreider: "I think historians are likely look back on those eight years as a last chance squandered, a disastrous passing beyond the point of no return, the moment when America went irreversibly over the edge into terminal decline. Which is great news for me, as my cartoons happen to comprise a document of what it felt like to live through that time."
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