It’s time once again to take a look at those comics that were unfairly ignored. With more graphic novels and comic books coming out in stores than ever before, it’s perhaps inevitable that some titles slip through the cracks, not due to a lack of quality, but simply because they got lost in the Wednesday shuffle. The books listed here aren’t necessarily my personal favorite books of 2012. Rather, they’re good — even great — books that, for whatever reason, didn’t get the sort of praise — either online or in print — that they deserved.
2012 marked the end of one of the more notable and at times controversial superhero series in recent memory, The Boys. The monthly series, in which writer Garth Ennis and company cast a cold, satirical eye on the superhero genre and American culture, came to its natural conclusion a few months ago, though there didn’t seem to be much talk about it on the Interwebs.
That being the case, I thought it might be fun (and hopefully enlightening) to start up some sort of discussion about the series, so I ensnared JK Parkin, one of the few people I know who has read the entire thing, to do a little Q&A with me. I think it turned out pretty well. Click on the link below to see if you agree with my assessment.
One of the current stars in the Koyama Press lineup is Canadian artist Michael DeForge. So it’s no surprise that Koyama plans to publish the fifth issue of DeForge’s one-man anthology series Lose in 2013. The issue will feature three self-contained stories: “Living Outdoors” tracks two high school students as they explore a zoo and experiment with hallucinogens; “Muskoka” is the story of a cowboy on the road home to see his family; and “Recent Hires” follows a young author’s descent into the criminal underworld in order to win the affections of a girl.
Annie Koyama was kind enough to send us a two-page preview from the “Living Outdoors” story, which you can see below. I’d also highly recommend checking out a story DeForge recently posted to his blog, First Year Healthy.
If there is any true visionary in comics today, surely it is Jim Woodring. No one is able to plumb the horror and wonder of simply being alive in the same surreal and enigmatic fashion as Woodring, nor able to combine veer from whimsy to Lynchian terror at the drop of a hat. In graphic novels like Weathercraft and Congress of the Animals, he has shown himself to be not only a (wordless) storyteller of the highest order, but one whose stories feel both warmly familiar and totally alien at the same time — no small feat.
Woodring’s latest book is Problematic, from Fantagraphics, a collection of sketchbook drawings made between 2004 and 2012 on a series of pocket-sized Moleskine books. Ranging from concept sketches to figure studies to caricatures to the sort of phantasmagorical creatures that populate his universes, Problematic is both a stroll through Woodring’s unique imagination and an opportunity to see his working process — to see the “idea batteries” (as the press release calls it) up close and personal.
Woodring was kind enough to answer a barrage of questions I threw at him about Problematic, as well as his next, upcoming graphic novel Fran, a sequel to Congress of the Animals. I could have spent weeks pestering him with questions, and I’m grateful for taking the time to respond.
One of the highlights in Picturebox’s 2013 schedule is the release of So Long, Silver Screen, the first major release by the French artist Blutch, a.k.a. Christian Hincker, in North America. Although he’s one of the most important European cartoonists of the past 20 years or so (his work has greatly influenced such artists as Craig Thompson and Jessica Abel, just to name a few), Blutch’s work has strangely remained unreleased in the United States until now.
As the title suggests, So Long, Silver Screen is Blutch’s ode to the magic of the cinema. I’ll let the Picturebox press release take it from there:
What are the movies? What effect do they have on us? Why do we love them so much? Blutch addresses all these questions in a series of interlocking short comics that move between scholarly history, romantic theory and ribald vignettes, featuring a motley cast of actors and topics including Burt Lancaster, Jean-Luc Godard, Luchino Visconti, Claudia Cardinale, Tarzan, and Michel Piccoli. As much a visual essay as it is graphic novel, a daydream and a fantastic meditation on the other art of telling stories with images, So Long, Silver Screen is a new height for an uncontested master of contemporary cartooning.
The highly influential and award-winning French cartoonist Blutch has published over a dozen books since his 1988 comic debut in the legendary avant-garde magazine Fluide Glacial. His titles include Mitchum, Peplum, and Le Petit Christian. His illustrations appear in Libération, The New Yorker and Les Inrockuptibles. So Long, Silver Screen is his first full-length work to be published in English.
Translated by Edward Gauvin and sporting a cover design by David Mazzucchelli, the graphic novel will be available in stores in April. See a 10-page preview below.
Hot off the heels of his graphic novel The Understanding Monster, Theo Ellsworth and his publisher Secret Acres will release the eighth issue of Ellsworth’s ongoing one-man anthology series, Capacity. The issue will debut May 11 at the Toronto Comics Art Festival, and will be in comic stores in June. You can read the full press release, as well as see a three-page preview of the comic, below. And yes, Virginia, Part 2 of The Understanding Monster is also expected for 2013.
If I am grateful for nothing else, it’s that 2012 was the year I was introduced to the work of Nathan Bulmer, creator of the daily and often uproariously funny webcomic Eat More Bikes. That introduction is in large part due to Tucker Stone, who has been regularly featuring Bulmer’s comics in his weekly column, “Comics of the Weak.”
Bulmer celebrated the end of the year with the release of his new comic, naturally titled Eat More Bikes, from Koyama Press. I had the chance to chat with Bulmer about the new series, how he got into comics and the challenges of producing a daily comic.
Having released his World War II indictment Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths in 2011, and his compelling childhood memoir Nonnonba in 2012, Drawn & Quarterly will publish Shigeru Mizuki’s most beloved and best-known work, Kitaro, for the first time in North America in 2013.
Created in 1959, Mizuki’s Kitaro, known in Japan as GeGeGe no Kitaro, follows the adventures of a centuries-old little boy who — well, I think the D&Q press release says it best:
Meet Kitaro. He’s just like any other boy, except for a few small differences: he only has one eye, his hair is as an antenna that senses paranormal activity, his geta sandals are jet-powered, and he can blend in to his surroundings like a chameleon. Oh, and he’s a three hundred and fifty year old yokāi (spirit monster). With all the offbeat humor and a delightful cast of characters, Kitaro is a light-hearted romp where the bad guys always get what’s coming to them.
Kitaro is not only incredibly popular in its native country but something of a native landmark, so its release on these shores (the book comes out in February) is noteworthy. As part of Robot 6′s anniversary celebration, the folks at Drawn & Quarterly were kind enough to share a sample story from this upcoming volume, Monster Night Game:
by Basil Wolverton
Fantagraphics Books, 272 pages, $39.99
When Fantagraphics and editor Paul Karasik re-introduced comic book readers to the work of Fletcher Hanks via the books I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets and You Shall Die By Your Own Evil Creation, the work seemed like a complete anomaly, separate in tone and manner from what every other Golden Age cartoonist was doing in the then-nascent medium.
Now, with the release of Spacehawk, Basil Wolverton’s sci-fi superhero series, it’s clear that Hanks’ work wasn’t as much of an oddity as previously thought. While Spacehawk isn’t quite as surreal or unsettling as any of Hanks’ best stories, it nonetheless shares some of the same crazed brutality.
Continuing our look into what comics and graphic novels lie in wait for us in the year 2013, I thought I’d take a look at Abrams catalog, which also includes books from British publisher SelfMade Hero, which Abrams distributes in the U.S. Here’s what I discovered:
Continuing our look at various small press publishers plans for the new year, today i thought we’d take a few moments to delve into Picturebox’s latest catalog. Join me, won’t you?
If Bill Kartalopoulos doesn’t have one of the most impressive resumes in the comics world, he certainly has one of the lengthiest. He’s one of the co-organizers of the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival and the programming co-ordinator for the Small Press Expo. He was a publishing associate for Toon Books, a contributing editor for Print magazine, he’s been an assistant to Art Spiegelman on various projects including the book MetaMaus, and has curated a number of comics exhibits in New York City. Oh, and he teaches college classes about comics in his spare time.
Now Kartalopoulos is adding the title of full-fledged publisher to the list. His new venture, Rebus Books was announced a few weeks ago and the company’s debut book, Barrel of Monkeys by Florent Ruppert and Jerome Mulot, made its debut at the recent BCGF.
Despite his incredibly busy schedule, Kartalopoulos was gracious enough to take time to talk over email about Monkeys, why he decided to take a chance on publishing it, and how publishing itself is a form of criticism. He’s an insightful, intensely smart guy, and I wish him the best of luck in this new venture.
OK, let’s start with the basics: How long have you been planning Rebus Books? What made you decide to want to become a publisher? And what made you finally decide to take the plunge?
I’ve been thinking of taking on some kind of publishing project on and off for a long time, but I’ve been planning Rebus Books in a more focused way over the past year. It’s hard to boil it down to a single motivation. In part, I think that because I’ve had the experience of working on other publishing projects, including the TOON Books and MetaMaus, I had a strong desire to turn my skills and experience towards a self-generated project that I was fully responsible for and that directly expressed my interests and point of view. I’m involved with comics in a lot of different ways, as a curator, critic, educator, festival organizer, and so forth, and this seemed like a very proactive way to extend that involvement in a way that enlarges the comics scene rather than simply reacts to it.
A few weeks ago we looked at Fantagraphics publishing plans for 2013. Today I thought it might be worthwhile to peek into Drawn & Quarterly’s crystal ball and see what they have in store. I skipped over some re-releases and new volumes of expected material — a new Moomin collection, a paperback release of Paying for It — mainly because I’m lazy.
You’re Just Jealous of My Jetpack by Tom Gauld. Gauld’s weekly comic gets the fancy book deal. Expect lots of really funny riffs on history and pop culture in Gauld’s stone-faced, deadpan style. January, $19.95.
One of the more interesting, art-focused and idiosyncratic comic conventions around, the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival, will take place this weekend.
The bulk of festival will be held from noon to 7 p.m. Saturday at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, located in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, N.Y. The show has expanded considerably, however, to include a number of other events, including gallery shows and a film festival.
“Hey Izadore! I’ve just realized that you have microscopic tribes of violent spore lords living on the surface of one of your eyeballs! One eye is at war with the other and both sides have been using your brain as a nightmare particle factory and fueling their attack vehicles with your blood! What are you going to do?”
What are you going to do indeed? So goes a sample of dialogue from Theo Ellsworth’s latest book, The Understanding Monster, the first volume in a projected three-book series. As the above excerpt might suggest, this is a trippy, almost hallucinatory comic, given to frequent bouts of digression. There’s a temptation to call it psychedelic, although that seems too limiting. Suffice it to say that that it’s an experience utterly unlike any other comic that’s out right now.