There’s a lot of Fantagraphics stuff in this week (no complaints here) which is enough of an excuse to kick off the blog with some exciting future Fantagraphics news cheer up your soggy, rain-drenched faces: the first volume of Pogo (that long-awaited, white whale of a planned twelve-volume collection) is actually at the printers. I love Pogo, and for about two years communicated with a friend in another country just by emailing Pogo strips back and forth across the world. Mark Evanier (who’s helping out on the book) writes about the progress of the thing over at his blog. “I don’t want to claim that Pogo was the best newspaper strip ever done,” he says, “But if you want to say that, I sure won’t give you an argument.” Fingers crossed we’ll see it some time in December.
Anyway, dry your mitts and have a look at this week’s offerings:
The Comics Journal #301 is a behemoth of a thing – 600+ pages of criticism, interviews, commentary and history: the kind of thing you’ve come to expect from the award-winning magazine only much, much more of it. It’s a year’s worth of stuff all wrapped up in a beautiful design by Eric Skillman (writer of the graphic novel Liar’s Kiss, and designer of numerous Criterion Collection DVDs which are beautiful and totally worth looking at even if you’ve never seen the films). The first 200 pages or so are devoted to R. Crumb’s brilliant and controversial Genesis, which he apparently regrets doing at all: “Four f***ing years later and hundreds of hours of labor, and it barely seems worth it. … It was a dumb decision. … I think any good comic illustrator worth his salt could’ve pretty much done the same thing I did.” There’s a conversation between MAD’S Al Jaffee and the ridiculously funny Michael Kupperman (Tales Designed To Thrizzle), a critical re-assessment of Dave Sim’s Cerebus (on which, more later) and endless essays and reviews by TCJ regulars like R. Fiore, R.C. Harvey, Chris Lanier and Rob Clough. None by yours truly though, I’m still the new kid. There’s also an interview with Joe Sacco (Palestine, Footnotes in Gaza) who talks about his experiences and methods, insights which this reviewer calls invaluable.
Speaking of Sacco, the latest Believer magazine (well, it’s June 2011 but it’s the newest one in the UK) has a long interview with the man himself. “When you draw, you can always capture that moment. You can always have that exact, precise moment when someone’s got the club raised, when someone’s going down. I realize now there’s a lot of power in that.” There’s also another What The Swedes Read column by Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket), who spends this month talking about Rudyard Kipling. Plus Dan Harmon (creator of The Sarah Silverman Program) talks about TV shows that never were with Toph Eggers. Who here has read A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius? It’s that Toph Eggers.
Lastly, essay-wise, is Following Cerebus #12 which emerges after a four-year hiatus. It’s the “all-David issue” so you’ll get stuff like Dave Sim interviewing David Petersen (Mouse Guard), as well as an essay examining the Dave Sim/David Lynch/David Foster Wallace* connection, and more stuff to do with people called David, probably.
* A footnote for DFW fans: This Infinite Jest-inspired video is making the rounds on the Internet (and this footnote is partly a plea to everybody to please stop sending it to me) – The Decemberists’ Calamity Song. I say “inspired” but they’ve essentially taken the most boring 100 pages of the whole book (the Eschaton bit) and filmed it. It’s okay.
A couple of days ago we got a big batch of beautifully designed stuff for kids (aged from about 3 to about 8) from Anorak Magazine. We’ve never had their stuff before, but the magazine itself has been going for quite a while now. It all smells like Nobrow books so they get the thumbs up from us, and Ploc is particularly lovely, reckons father-to-be Andrew. Head over to their website to see what they’re all about.
Drawing Power: A Compendium of Cartoon Advertising 1870 – 1940s SC is a 128-page collection of work by iconic artists which has been largely forgotten about simply because of the fleeting nature of advertising. There’s stuff in here by Bud Fisher, George Herriman, Dr Seuss, Milton Caniff and over 60 others, all advertising weird and forgotten stuff like electric cigarettes from the 1880s, or Yellow Kid cigars. Someone over at Fantagraphics is proud of this last line of their solicitation so I’m just going to leave it here: Drawing Power: A Compendium of Cartoon Advertising is guaranteed not to shrink, even after repeated washings. Smooth, satisfying, easy on the throat. No longer will your friends notice your dishpan hands, once you have read Drawing Power! Buy two today! Click for a PDF preview here with one of your dishpan hands.
Milton Caniff turns up on the shelves again in Male Call, a hardcover collection of the entire strip from 1942. “While most of world remembers Caniff for his Steve Canyon or Terry and the Pirates strips, he sticks out in my mind for his saucy WWII strip starring one Miss Lace and many, many, many lonely G.I.s.” says the Schulz Library. Noted Caniff historian R.C. Harvey (that man again) writes a detailed introduction, alongside unused art and other bonus bits and bobs.
Want to read a violent comic edited by a Grade-A wrong’un? In 1958 Bob Wood pleaded guilty to brutally murdering his girlfriend, served just three years in prison, and a year after his release was himself murdered by a bunch of loan sharks. It’s the kind of story that would turn up in his own 1940s comic series Crime Does Not Pay (notable target of Dr. Fredric “Seduction of the Innocent” Wertham), which Dark Horse have carefully picked the very best of for Blackjacked and Pistol-Whipped: A Crime Does Not Pay Primer. Expect gangers, kidnappers, maniacal killers, and an essay by Denis Kitchen on just what happened to Bob Wood.
Bouncer: The One-Armed Gunslinger by Alexandro Jodorowsky and French comics legend Francois Boucq is not just a collection of previous issues but an entirely new stand-alone story in the gritty western series. This one’s about a mysterious murderer running wild in Barro City. Humanoids have a preview.
Malinky Robot Collected Stories and Other Bits SC reprints the five Eisner-nominated stories by Sonny Liew (My Faith in Frankie, Sense & Sensibility) in all their off-kilter, dystopian sci-fi strangeness. There’s also pin-ups by Roger Langridge, Skottie Young, and Mike Allred. Liew was a student of David Mazzuchelli at the Rhode Island School of Design and he talks about what that was like with Comicbook Resources. Comics Alliance have a preview.
Speaking of Allred, I neglected to mention last week’s DC Comics Presents: Teen Titans which was stupid of me because it’s essentially Allred’s issue of Solo reprinted and that is a mighty fine thing indeed. We’ve still got a bunch left so pick one up next time you’re in.
Jiro Taniguchi (Walking Man) has come very close to autobiography in this week’s A Zoo in Winter. It’s about a young man in Tokyo in the 1960s, working as an apprentice to a mangaka. According to this reviewer, the book has a “quiet honesty” about long hours and meeting deadlines – quite a contrast to the manga series Bakuman which is also about teenagers trying to break into the industry.
Self-professed left-leaning humanist and mini-comics scenester Sarah Glidden’s graphic novel How To Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less is now out in a softcover edition. It’s a memoir about her travels after qualifying for a program to introduce people of Jewish descent to the Jewish homeland. The hardcover version’s been a mainstay in Gosh! for some time but in the event you missed it, here’s a preview.
Next month sees the return of Adrian Tomine’s most well-known work with Optic Nerve #12. It’s set to be a great jumping-on point for any new readers but Drawn & Quarterly are giving you the opportunity to pretend you’ve been reading it all along by reprinting all eleven existing issues. They’re in this week. I haven’t read them in years but I think I’ll change that.
In hardcover there’s Serenity Volume 2: Better Days, collecting the 3-issue miniseries from 2008 along with some other bits and pieces, and in trade paperback we’ve got Team Ups of the Brave and the Bold reprinting the first seven issues of J. Michael Straczynski’s acclaimed run. There’s also Spider-Man: Next Chapter which collects a bunch of John Byrne stuff (among other things) who, incidentally, has another issue of Next Men on our shelves tomorrow.
New titles launching tomorrow include Ultimate Comics Ultimates #1 by Jonathan Hickman, who is somehow managing to survive and sleep and eat while still writing a ridiculous number of excellent comics. He talks to iFanboy about the series in this podcast. Preview here.
David Lapham also writes a teetering pile of stuff and tomorrow we’ll have the first issue of yet another series. Driver: Crossing the Line #1 is based on the PlayStation game of the same name. Greg Scott (Gotham Central) is on art duties, and Jock provides the covers.
When Kevin Smith’s Green Hornet screenplay failed to get made into a film, he turned it into a comic instead. Now he’s doing the same thing to his adaptation of the ‘70s TV show The Six Million Dollar Man which didn’t make it to the big screen either. Bionic Man #1 is co-written by Phil Hester, drawn by Jonathan Lau and features covers by Alex Ross. Bleeding Cool have a preview.
Dark Horse Presents #3 features an all-new 12-page story by the very excellent Dave Gibbons (Watchmen), and includes twelve preview pages of Jim Steranko’s long awaited Red Tide, his crime-noir masterpiece that’s been in the works for long over a decade. According to Dark Horse, Steranko decided to not only rewrite and redraw sections of the book, but recolour the entire thing by himself as well, hence the delay (no confirmation yet on when we can expect the actual book). There’s also stuff by Howard Chaykin, Richard Corben, Carla Speed McNeil, Paul Chadwick, David Chelsea, Robert Love, Michael T. Gilbert, Neal Adams and more.
And finally, there’s Kick Ass 2 #3, Loose Ends #2 (of 4, and the first issue was stunning), and DC takes you back to the ‘90s with DC Retroactive Green Lantern, Justice League of America, and Superman by Ron Marz, Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis, and Louise Simonson, respectively.
So that’s your long and unwieldy weekly missive concerning stuff we’re taking out of boxes and putting on shelves this week. Now, here are some events you can attend when you’re done reading ‘em in the exact opposite order to which they are occurring:
In October, the Institut Français will hold the very first of its annual BD & Comics Passion weekends (that’s bandes dessinée for those who have to ask) (I had to ask). They’ve invited a whole group of excellent local/international authors to discuss their work and graphic novels in front of people like me and you: Dave Gibbons (him again), China Miéville (Kraken), Audrey Niffenegger (The Time Travelerʼs Wife, The Night Bookmobile), Bryan Talbot (Grandville), Yves Sente and André Juillard (Blake and Mortimer), Jean-Claude Mézières (Valérian and Laureline), Benoît Sokal (Canardo), Catel&Bocquet (Kiki), Bastien Vivès (The Taste of Chlorine), and The Man at the Crossroads, Mr Paul Gravett. The whole programme of the festival will be online from the 1st of September, but a little birdie told me that the lovely Niffenegger will be talking about the great Aubrey Beardsley.
Steve Aylett’s movie about the cult SF author Jeff Lint is screening on September 16th at the Idler Academy here in London. It stars the likes of Alan Moore, Josie Long, Stewart Lee, Jeff Vandermeer, Robin Ince, Leila Johnston, Mitzi Szereto, D Harlan Wilson, Andrew O’Neill, Bill Ectric and more. Ince will be doing stand-up on the night and Aylett will be there to answer any questions you’ve got about Lint’s myriad controversies and disasters. Tickets are here.
Got nothing planned for the weekend of September 3/4? We certainly do. Future Cinema (creators of Secret Cinema) are transforming a (secret) London location into a piece of California, where they’ll be screening cult vampire flick The Lost Boys on Saturday the 3rd. Two familiar Gosh! faces (me and Steve) will be manning a very ‘80s comic shop and are currently fighting over who gets to be Corey Feldman.