• Review: "Created during two overseas wars, rising inequity, a city lost under flood waters, skyrocketing public debt and the largest economic crisis since the Great Depression, this collection [Twilight of the Assholes] is the pained scream of a frustrated liberal trapped in a nation whose zeitgeist, he feels, spent much of the decade steadfastly marching in lockstep to the Right. The excesses of a neo-Gilded Age provokes Kreider with often hilarious results... Sometimes vulgar and crude but often insightful, always passionate, Kreider's essays and illustrations offer a voice for a nation seemingly without hope." – Publishers Weekly
• Review: "Fantagraphics' collection Four Color Fear: Forgotten Horror Comics of the 1950s, edited by Greg Sadowski, is a wonderfully creepy hurtle through the exuberant, cheerfully gross and icky horror comics that prevailed in the golden, pre-Comics-Code era. ...[T]he art is brilliant: indistinct piles of slimy viscera, purple-green zombies, skull-faced vampires and demons, Satan in a dozen guises, witches and occult symbols, creatures from the eleven hells of the darkest mythos of the human spirit." – Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing
• Review: "Considering how much I enjoyed the first four years, when Foster was still finding the strip’s voice, I wasn’t sure how much better Valiant could get. Turns out, Prince Valiant achieves sheer radiance. [...] In short, Prince Valiant is noble romantic adventure fiction at its finest. The plots are classical, yet surprising, with chivalry and fair play constantly at the forefront. Poetic and strikingly descriptive, the narrations could nearly stand alone, but fortunately are accompanied by some of the finest comics art ever produced. [...] Prince Valiant v. 3: 1941-1942 finds a legendary strip reaching yet greater heights of creative accomplishment, presenting the strips with the full majesty of size, color and detail that its author always hoped for. After Foster, comics were never the same; this series is, simply, a must-have for any serious comics library." – Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama
• Review: "Excoriating, withering humour and viciously necessary satire tellingly rendered and savage yet personable and winningly intimate reportage make [Twilight of the Assholes] one of the best cartoon coshes ever applied to the politics of this century." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Review: "Battling an administration that smugly created their own reality, even if (and sometimes, especially if) it flew in the face of reason, morality and/or common sense, [in Twilight of the Assholes] Kreider employed a vicious, scorched-earth set of tactics that matched the passionate intensity of the right, only imbued with a wicked and outrageous sense of humor to go with a keen sense of observation. Whether or not one agreed with all of Kreider’s observations about American culture..., the sheer relentlessness of Kreider’s attacks combined with the elegance and intensity of his line carried a certain punishing quality." – Rob Clough, The Comics Journal
• Review: "...[L]et us celebrate a title of subtle and peculiar power from a creator of signal grace and range. Uptight #4 continues Crane’s dual and quite distinct serials: the urban romance between Leo and Dee — which, despite its superficial placidity, includes in the present chapter two scenes of disquieting violence — and the far more whimsical (if decidedly Roald Dahlicious) misadventures of the waifs Simon and Rosalyn and Simon’s lariat-tailed cat, Jack. ...[T]he sublimity of Crane’s Uptight makes one gloomily deplore that so many of the main indies appear to be abandoning comic books as such." – Bryan A. Hollerbach, PLAYBACK:stl
• Review: "What is incredible about this journal is the diversity of the works represented. It appears that Mome does not favor any particular aesthetic. Rather they celebrate the multiplicity of aesthetic possibilities. As someone just barely scratching the surface of the graphic story form, I found this a terrific way to learn about the variety of comics and stylistic choices. [...] There is so much to see and so much to learn in Mome. The artists are of an exceptionally high caliber and for those who are interested in teaching comics as literature, or simply learning more about comics in general, this journal would be a wonderful beginning." – Becky Tuch, The Review Review
• Review: "...[A]t the center of What I Did is 'Sshhhh!' – a rather lengthy tale of the entire life of a (bird-)man, told in pictures, without the use of any words other than the section numberings. It’s an ambitious piece by Jason... 'Hey, Wait' is a touching tale about childhood tragedy that sticks with someone for his entire life. 'The Iron Wagon' is the only tale of the three where the original isn’t currently available, because it’s out of print. The book replicates the beautiful red tone of the original, and it’s a fantastic mystery, expertly told by Jason..." – Bill Jones, Pads & Panels
• Review: "[Interiorae] is less concerned about the petty secrets and lies of people and more interested in the idea of inbetween spaces. There’s the space between sleep and consciousness, the line between life and death, the space between commitment and detachment, the line between love and hate." – Rob Clough, The Comics Journal
• Profile: "Mascots is a collection of one to three panel comics that are really small paintings. Fenwick calls it a 'short story collection.' Though conceptually loose, the book developed from some paintings Fenwick had done, using found book covers as backgrounds and painting over top. He didn't approach the work as a narrative, but more as a series of vignettes with recurring themes and moods. [...] 'It's got a foot in the world of comics — in that it's text and image - but it's mostly language and not a ton of drawings. It's kind of a loose definition of comics,' Fenwick says." – Laura Kenins, New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal
• Review: "In the serialized adventures of Buz Sawyer, ace World War II Navy pilot and clean-cut ladies man, Crane expertly mixes high action in the Pacific with just the right amount of romance, creating a storytelling engine as sturdy and reliable as Sawyer’s SBD Dauntless. Crane’s gorgeous art, with cleanly drawn figures, extensive shading, and a slightly cartoonish style, took full advantage of the space provided comic strips back in the day. [...] Rating: 9.0 [out of 10]" – Garrett Martin, Paste
• Review: "Depending on who you are and your social outlook this final collection [FUC_ __U _SS __LE] is as brilliant or as appalling as the previous three so if you’re prudish, sensitive or concerned about moral standards – don’t buy this book. There’s plenty of us who will." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Review: "Sergio Ponchione’s conclusion to Grotesque returned to the mind-bending storytelling of the first issue, tying together loose story threads in a manner that treated those threads as tangible objects. [...] There are echoes of R.Crumb, Elzie Segar, Charles Burns and Kim Deitch in his work, creating a lush, bizarre world that he doesn’t quite allow the reader to get lost in. Indeed, if the past two issues (the 'Cryptic City' story) felt a bit more conventional than the more expansive first issue, the finale not only fully fleshed out the first issue’s themes, it gave the last two issues a new context." – Rob Clough, The Comics Journal
• Interview: Joe MacLeod of the Baltimore City Paper talks to their erstwhile cartoonist Tim Kreider about his new book Twilight of the Assholes: "In principle I subscribe to the Kubrick policy about discussing your own work, to wit: Do not. It can only ever limit and diminish it. I tried not to explicate my own cartoons, just use them as starting points for tangential rants, occasions to say things that the cartoon form didn’t allow for. Still, it makes me squirmy whenever artists hold forth about their own work, and I still second-guess myself about having included the essays."
• Interview: The third part of Ian Burns's chat with the creators of "The White Rhinoceros" serial from Mome at The Comics Journal shifts to artist Josh Simmons: "I was trying to capture a certain look; I was thinking very loosely (I didn’t look at a lot of these comics, but the Disney comics from the ’60s or so — very nice, smooth, rubbery, cartoony line and bright colors) but trying to draw it somewhat realistic too. Not too cartoony. For me the main influences would be those kind of comics, and fantasy epic stories like Narnia, Lord of the Rings. And Shaun [Partridge] is a huge Narnia fan. That was a large jumping-off point for him."
• Interview:The Daily Cross Hatch's Brian Heater continues his chat with Stan Sakai: "...I read through the old Fantagraphics stories, and I’m really happy with how it all holds together, and how it flows into the current continuity. The characters mature, but they pretty much stay in character. So, I’m really happy with that. And the types of stories that come about, I think I’ve matured as a storyteller. And Usagi has matured as a character, so I’m quite pleased."
Rolling Stone writer Matt Taibbi has confirmed Tim Kreider as a Justice in his newly-formed Supreme Court of Assholedom, an august body that will hear cases and judge, once and for all, who is an asshole. Kreider, of course, knows a thing or two about assholes, having just published a whole book of them, which, conveniently, Taibbi wrote the introduction for. We look forward to the Court's rulings.
• Review: "Tim Kreider is a great caricaturist, as his latest collection of cartoons, Twilight of the Assholes, attests. He has a real knack for portraying the unsightly physical traits of modern Americans– the rolls of fat, the paunchy stomachs, the jowls, flabby arms and chinless faces — that make up more of the current populace than we’d care to admit (myself included). Plus, he’s got a nice, razor-sharp wit that really cuts to the absurdity of a particular stance or issue, and he isn’t afraid to get nasty or break a taboo to make his point, which can be refreshing." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "Cleverly constructed, laconically laid out in the classic nine-panel-grid picture structure and rendered in comfortingly mundane style a la Charles Burns, King of the Flies is a landmark in metafictional mystery tales. [...R]eaders will have to wait for the concluding book to discover how this stunning, mesmerising amalgam of Twin Peaks, Desert Palms, Peyton Place, The Omen and Blue Velvet plays out. A stylish and magical portmanteau saga of a community cursed with an excess of human frailty – lust, rage, greed, despair and especially shallow selfishness – this is a story that will surprise, compel, distress and haunt anybody with even half an imagination. Darkly addictive, casually violent and graphically sexual, King of the Flies is 'adults only' and well worth waiting until you’re 18 for." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Review: "This is a story about purpose, inertia, the road blocks we throw up for ourselves and the ways in which we are forced to interact with a demanding and frequently demeaning world. This book feels intimate because unlike his past work, Sammy the Mouse has an immediacy to it that’s quite different in tone from his earlier, more distant (but no less visceral) comics. [...] Sally’s comics have an ugly physical quality to them that I’ve always liked, but the two-color process he uses here pushes the ugly/beautiful tension even further. [...] The care and thought that Sally put into adapting his comic into the Ignatz format shows on every page and makes the story resonate all the more." – Rob Clough, The Comics Journal
• Review: "It’s hard to decide which Ignatz book is the best-looking purely from an aesthetic standpoint, but Leila Marzocchi’s Niger has to be in consideration. It’s another series that’s dominated by two tones (in this case, rust red and a chalky blue) that’s remarkable to behold simply in terms of its mark-making. There’s a lushness to this series, in the way Marzocchi uses a scratchy technique that makes her figures and backgrounds look as though they were less drawn than constructed with dense webs of color. Her figures are fabulously exaggerated, all curves and bulbous noses. Everyone is larger than life, creating a sort of mysterious and slightly dark fairy tale atmosphere for this story. [...] It’s an easy comic to follow and probably the friendliest to non-comics readers in the Ignatz line. While its ideas are original, its familiar feel creates a certain immediate comfort level for the reader as they delve into a strange and beautiful world. It’s as though Niger is a favorite old fairy tale whose memory is just out of reach." – Rob Clough, The Comics Journal
• Review: "Instead of writing about the [Prince Valiant] series as a whole (or at least, those volumes I have read), I decided to do another one-page criticism. After much debate with myself I selected the page... dated December 1, 1940, appearing at the end of volume 2. In some respects this is a typical Hal Foster page, but in many ways it is not, which is partially why I chose it." – Derik Badman, The Panelists
• Plug: "ROY CRANE Mania! Just got my copy of Buz Sawyer: War in the Pacific, this and the Captain Easy volumes are long overdue. Thrilling stuff! Roy Crane is one of the unsung greats! Thrilling, charming, infectious masterful storytelling. Probably in my top five favorite cartoonists. Roy Crane drew some of the most subtly sexy women ever. ...[H]uzzah to Fantagraphics! Okay, I'm insane for Roy Crane. It may look old fashioned at first glance, but trust me, once you dive in you'll eat it up!" – Mike Allred
• Plug: "[Love and Rockets: New Stories #3] was as amazing as folks said it was. No knock against Gilbert, but Jaime murdered it this time around, absolutely killed, fired on all cylinders, drowned it in ink. Jeepers, someone give that man a cartooning medal." – Evan Dorkin
• Plug: "I forgot how much I enjoyed reading Carol Tyler's comics when I was tripping over them in various anthologies in the 80's/90's. I stumbled across this book [Late Bloomer] while cleaning up in the basement where all the comics that don't fit anywhere sleep, and was happy to revisit these pieces, as well as material I hadn't read before. The perils of buying a book and putting it aside for too long. Funny, warm, human, honest, occasionally beautiful/heartbreaking 'life' comics." – Evan Dorkin
• Plug: "I love Roy Crane and I'm super-happy [Captain Easy Vol. 1] is in print. Cartoonists and cartoonist-wonks, take heed, there is some beautiful work to be pored over here. ...Crane = Master." – Evan Dorkin
• Plug: "Regular readers of this blog will be aware of the release of Stigmata (Fantagraphics) just a few weeks ago. Featuring expressionist master Lorenzo Mattotti's swirling, cross-hatched pen line as if the story were recounting the fading memory of a dream about a drunk who one day wakes up marked with stigmata. It's an intense and perfectly balanced story, in hard cover with a wonderful Mattotti painting on the cover and it deserves to be a flagship title for any graphic novel collection." – Dave's Comics
• Interview: At The Comics Journal, Ian Burns talks to Shaun Partridge, writer of the Josh Simmons-drawn Mome serial "The White Rhinoceros" (part 1 of 3): "I think fun is the law. You should really enjoy life and laugh. That’s what comedy’s all about. Which is also alchemical, because you’re taking something that is unpleasant and making jokes about it. You know, Dave Chappelle’s a master alchemist. Larry David’s an alchemist."
Tim Kreider returns to his Baltimore stomping grounds this Friday, Feb. 25, 2011, for a release party for his new book Twilight of the Assholes at Atomic Books. Tim will sign and read from the book starting at 7:00 PM. The Atomic Books events calendar is here.
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