A novel of the Jazz Age, The Big Town is the story of a failed businessman whose dreams of prosperity hinge on the secret proposition of a millionaire industrialist and a dangerous relationship he finds with a poor orphan girl chasing love in the great American metropolis.
Harry Hennesey’s hopes of success, both in his household and the world, have driven him to sell his home in an Illinois small town and take his chances in the big city. He rents a room in a run-down hotel. He deals in wholesale items scavenged from yard sales and close-outs. One night at a movie theater downtown, he meets a teenage flapper named Pearl who latches onto him and won’t let go. For several years now, Harry has threatened his marriage and self-esteem with innumerable infidelities. Now he finds himself falling in love with a girl less than half his age. But that’s not all.
Charles A. Follette, chairman of the board of the American Prometheus Corporation, comes to him with a slick proposition: find Follette’s missing niece, and the road to riches shall be his. Soon, though, Harry discovers a darker secret to the identity of the missing niece and what lies behind the urgency for her detection. It’s this revelation that leads him to a closer examination of what it means to the life he’s known since the birth of his children and that life he believes awaits him if he can only reach the top of the ladder.
Harry’s story in The Big Town is set against a fantastic backdrop of an archetypal 1920s American big city. We see speakeasies, sanitariums, skyscrapers, and a glittering Gatsby-like party high atop the metropolis. Lost in his own moral confusions, we watch Harry try to reform his young lover and uncover the secret of her own past in a small canal town miles beyond a city where gangsters murder ordinary citizens and everyone seems to have a get-rich scheme as the Roaring ’20s come to a thunderous close. The Big Town evokes a lost era through language and flamboyant characters reminiscent of Fitzgerald, Dos Passos, Ring Lardner, etc. Yet it’s also eerily relevant to our own time with its study of the role of business, crime, morality, and love in our lives.
Download and read a 24-page PDF excerpt (186 KB) including the first two chapters.
"Monte Schulz's The Big Town exposes decadence, wealth and consumption in Jazz Age America as spiritual myopia — where desperate, haunting characters hinge their lives on impossible dreams. This lyrical, gripping novel is as close to 1920s America as it gets, and penned with such frightening realism that the chaos of a bygone era erupts from its pages." – Simon Van Booy, award-winning author of Everything Beautiful Began After
"Bold and stirring, The Big Town is a big walk through the dark side of Jazz Age America, a place where temptation and violence were only a breath away. A finely-textured tale of moral ambiguity told with gripping realism that richly evokes the sights and sounds of an era defined by gangsters and Gatsby." — Persia Walker, author of Black Orchid Blues
This long out-of-print first volume of the multiple Harvey and Eisner award- winning Complete Crumb Comics series has been one of our most demanded reprints. Now, this landmark volume of Robert Crumb’s formative years not only returns, but also boasts a major discovery not included in prior editions: a never-before-published, 60 page “home-made” Arcade comic from 1962.
Growing up, Robert and his brother Charles often created their own comic books. These “home-made” editions were usually produced in editions of one. As such, many have been lost to time or private collections. What hasn’t comprises much of the first two volumes of The Complete Crumb series. Their creation continued throughout the 1950s and into the early ’60s and eventually the content of Crumb’s work gradually matured from the light-hearted, funny animal antics of earlier years to stories that flashed signals of what we now recognize as “true Crumb.”
This previously undiscovered Arcade “issue,” from May, 1962, shows many flashes of where Crumb was heading (whereas Charles had all but abandoned drawing comics by the ’60s). The 17-page strip “Jim” is the most emotionally-charged work of Crumb’s young life to that point, a gentle and psychologically astute look at a boy who needs a mother, and also brimming with signs of his increasing frustration with Catholicism. It also features the first quintessential “Crumb girl,” Mabel.
This volume also includes several early Fritz the Cat stories (a.k.a. “Animal Town Comics”), and the classic “Treasure Island Days” (as seen in the Crumb film) and is rounded out with other strips, diary entries and sketches that will be a treasure trove for Crumb fans, all defining work from Crumb’s formative years as a cartoonist, spanning the years 1958-1962 (when Crumb was ages 15-19) and featuring material from other “home-made” comics of the era. This is Ground Zero for a man who may well be the greatest cartoonist who ever lived.
Download and read a PDF excerpt (10 MB) with 9 pages of previously unpublished material.
Noted music producer and scholar Pat Thomas spent five years in Oakland, CA researching Listen, Whitey! The Sights and Sounds of Black Power 1965-1975. While befriending members of the Black Panther Party, Thomas discovered rare recordings of speeches, interviews, and music by noted activists Huey Newton, Bobby Seale, Eldridge Cleaver, Elaine Brown, The Lumpen and many others that form the framework of this definitive retrospective.
Listen, Whitey! also chronicles the forgotten history of Motown Records. From 1970 to 1973, Motown’s Black Power subsidiary label, Black Forum, released politically charged albums by Stokely Carmichael, Amiri Baraka, Langston Hughes, Bill Cosby & Ossie Davis, and many others, all represented.
Also explored are the musical connections between Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Graham Nash, the Partridge Family (!?!) and the Black Power movement. Obscure recordings produced by SNCC, Ron Karenga’s US, the Tribe and other African-American sociopolitical organizations of the late 1960s and early ’70s are examined along with the Isley Brothers, Nina Simone, Archie Shepp, Art Ensemble of Chicago, Clifford Thornton, Watts Prophets, Last Poets, Gene McDaniels, Roland Kirk, Horace Silver, Angela Davis, H. Rap Brown, Stanley Crouch, and others that spoke out against oppression.
Other sections focus on Black Consciousness poetry (from the likes of Jayne Cortez, wife of Ornette Coleman), inspired religious recordings that infused god and Black Nationalism, obscure regional and privately pressed Black Power 7-inch soul singles from across America. 90,000 words of text are accompanied by over 250 large sized, full-color reproductions of album covers and 45 rpm singles — most of which readers will have never seen before.
Download and read a 15-page PDF excerpt (1.7 MB) with the Table of Contents, Introduction and complete Chapter 1.
Glitz-2-Go finally collects nearly 40 years of comics stories by Diane Noomin, best-known for her work as cartoonist and editor of the women comics anthology Twisted Sisters.
Noomin’s career in underground comix began in 1972 and included appearances in Wimmen’s Comix, Young Lust, Short Order, Arcade, Real Girl, Lemme Outta Here, El Perfecto, True Glitz, Aftershock, Mind Riot, Titters, and Weirdo.
Glitz-2-Go stars Noomin’s signature character, DiDi Glitz, the frustrated middle-aged glamour-puss and anxiety-ridden suburban Sisyphus. All of her stories, beginning with her debut “Restless Reverie” in 1974’s Family Fun Comics, are finally back in print for the first time in over 30 years.
Noomin was a pioneer in the emergence of women cartoonists in the 1970s. Along with cartoonist and co-editor Aline Kominsky-Crumb, she edited and contributed to Twisted Sisters Comics in its original incarnation as an underground comic book in 1976, and in the early 1990s edited the celebrated collections Twisted Sisters: A Collection of Bad Girl Art and its sequel Twisted Sisters: Drawing the Line, featuring the work of a generation of women cartoonists.
Like many women who wrote and drew underground and alternative comix in the ’70s, Noomin’s contribution to the form has been unjustly overlooked. This book goes toward rectifying that by collecting all of Noomin’s best comics as well as spotlighting Noomin’s other creative outlets such as reproducing set and costume designs and cast photos of I’d Rather Be Doing Something Else: The DiDi Glitz Story, performed by the women’s theatre company, “Les Nickelettes” in San Francisco in 1980 and photos of a larger-than-life DiDi papier-maché sculpture of DiDi that Noomin did for San Francisco’s Little Frankenstein Gallery in 1994.
Fantagraphics has been at the forefront of preserving the best comics by the groundbreaking “underground” generation of cartoonists who revolutionized the form in the ’60s and ’70s. Glitz-2-Go is the first solo collection by Diane Noomin.
“Diane developed characters in an altered reality to express her alienation, with her scathing black sense of humor and an incredible eye for detail. Her visual universe is so kitsch, so stupefyingly overdone, something like a mixture of Liberace, Joan Rivers and Jackie Mason — Graceland on the Borscht Belt.” – from the Foreword by Aline Kominsky Crumb
“Tarty, naive Glitz is part Barbie Doll, part Alice in Wonderland and part Madonna.” – ArtForum
“Diane Noomin has been producing some of the most hysterically funny comics on the market.” — Hypno Magazine
Another all-original collection of full-color graphic novellas in the format of Low Moon, Athos in America takes its title from the lead story, a prequel of sorts to the graphic novel The Last Musketeer, in which the seemingly ageless swashbuckler turns up in a bar in 1920 New York and relates the tale of how he went to Hollywood to play himself in a film version of The Three Musketeers. Another tie-in with a previous Jason story occurs in “The Smiling Horse,” in which the characters from the story “&” in Low Moon attempt to kidnap a woman.
Also in this volume: “The Brain That Wouldn’t Virginia Woolf,” a mashup of The Brain That Wouldn’t Die and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, told in reverse chronological order; the Bukowski pastiche “A Cat From Heaven” in which Jason works on his comic, has a reading in a comic book store, gets drunk and makes a fool of himself; the dialogue-free (all the text occurs in thought balloons) “Tom Waits on the Moon,” in which we follow four people (one of them a scientist working on a teleportation machine) until something goes wrong; and “So Long Mary Ann,” a prison-escape love-triangle story.
Download and read a PDF excerpt with 4 pages from each of 5 stories (2.3 MB). Read the first 5 pages of the title story at Robot 6.
Now that you've seen the previews of our collection of Joost Swarte's comics Is That All There Is?, perhaps you would like to know more about the artist and his other work. Here's a nice brief English-language video profile commissioned by DutchDFA that spotlights not only Swarte's comics but some of his work in illustration, design and architecture, with a glimpse inside his drool-inducing studio space.
By appropriating and subverting Tintin creator Hergé’s classic “clear line” style, Joost Swarte revitalized European alternative comics in the 1970s with a series of satirical, musically elegant, supremely beautifully drawn short stories — often featuring his innocent, magnificently-quiffed Jopo de Pojo, or his orotund scientist character, Anton Makassar.
Under Swarte’s own exacting supervision, Is That All There Is? will collect virtually all of his alternative comics work from 1972 to date, including the RAW magazine stories that brought him fame among American comics aficionados in the 1980s. Especially great pains will be taken to match Swarte’s superb coloring, which includes stories executed in watercolor, comics printed in retro duotones, fiendishly clever use of Zip-a-Tone screens, and much more. (There’s even a story about how to color comics art using those screens, with Makassar as the teacher.)
Other noteworthy stories include Swarte’s take on an episode from Hergé’s early days, a Fats Domino story, a tribute to the legendary “Upside-Downs” strip, and a story titled simply “Modern Art.”
“I’ve loved Joost Swarte’s perfect cartoons, drawings and designs for decades and it’s nothing short of ridiculous that a comprehensive edition of this brilliant artist’s work has never been available in America until now. Swarte is considered a national treasure in his native Holland, and if you open this book, you’ll understand why.” — Chris Ware
“I can express something [with animals] that is different from what I put into my work about humans... I can put more nonsense, more satire and fantasy into the animals...” — R. Crumb
Created by an adolescent R. Crumb in the late 1950s, Fritz the Cat rose to fame — along with his creator — during the underground comix revolution of the 1960s, and remains Crumb’s most well-known character and an internationally recognized icon of 1960s culture.
Fritz is a feline, freewheeling chiseler who allowed Crumb to express some of his most acidic commentary on American culture. Tragicomedy, farce and satire all rolled into one, The Life and Death of Fritz the Cat chronicles the very best of Fritz's adventures from his early days as an idealistic college student to his ultimate fate as a jaded, burned-out superstar, including Crumb’s infamous send-off of the character in the wake of Ralph Bakshi’s animated feature film, an experience and project that completely dissatisfied Crumb.
Finally collected in a single volume, these Fritz stories are a funny, insightful, authentic record of a tumultuous period in American life, with humor and compassion by the most well-respected cartoonist of all time.
Together, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby created such classic two-fisted comic series as Captain America, Boys' Ranch, The Newsboy Legion, and The Boy Commandos. But few people realize that one of their greatest successes — from 1947, when they singlehandedly created the genre, to the end of the 1950s — was... romance comics!
In such best-selling titles as Young Love and Real Western Romances, Simon and Kirby delighted a generation of girls and women (and probably a fair number of boys and men as well) with hundreds of charming and endlessly inventive stories of love and heartbreak.
And now, for the first time since their original publication in the 1940s and 1950s, 21 of these classics have been meticulously restored and are printed herein — in full, glorious color. So get out your handkerchiefs and enjoy the trials, tribulations, tragedies and triumphs of Suzi, Marjorie, Annaliese, Toni, Kathy, Sari... and 15 other star-crossed young lovers from half a century ago.
Download and read a 16-page PDF excerpt (3.6 MB) with the stories "Fraulein Sweetheart" and "Shame."
Register and Login to receive full member benefits, including members-only special offers, commenting privileges on Flog! The Fantagraphics Blog, newsletters and special announcements via email, and stuff we haven't even thought of yet. Membership is free and spam-free, so Sign Up Today!