DC's "Rebirth" Roster Could Look Very Familiar
Drawn and Quarterly has an extensive list of releases planned for the first half of the new year, including the debut book by Belgian cartoonist Brecht Vandenbroucke, White Cube. The 64-page book will go on sale in March for the list price of $22.95, and Vandenbroucke will appear in April at MoCCA to help promote it.
White Cube is a collection of wordless gag strips mostly involving a pair of twins who attempt to interact with the worlds of art, fashion and high culture in general, with humorous results. Although this is his first book, Vandenbroucke’s work might be familiar to you, as he’s done comics for Nobrow and illustrations for The New York Times.
Below, you can read D&Q’s press release and sample a five-page preview.
Now the 49th state can add at least one name to its roster, Anna Bongiovanni. The Fairbanks native, now transplanted to Minnesota, released her debut Out of Hollow Water through the small-press publisher 2D Cloud. It’s a rather haunting trio of short stories, told in simple, one-panel-per-page fashion, to detail various emotional, familial and even sexual trauma. Bongiovanni, however, relies upon folklore and fairy-tale tropes to give her stories an eerie, otherworldly feel that makes these stories both alien and universal at the same time. It’s a pretty impressive debut.
I talked with Bongiovanni over email during the holidays about her new book and its origins.
Chris Mautner: First of all, tell me a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? How did you get interested in drawing? How were you introduced to comics and what made you decide to start making your own?
Ann Bongiovanni: I was born and raised in Fairbanks, Alaska. I never got into comics until my parents just happened to buy an Archie comic from the grocery store. Then I was hooked, like obsessed, with Archie comics. Luckily, I calmed down and – while Archie holds a special nostalgic place in my heart – I am not nearly as crazed about the series as I once was. For a few years, I attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and tried to major in elementary education, but all I ever did was draw comics. It’s what I did in-between homework assignments and during lectures. Instead of going to parties, I was drawing in my dorm room alone. I don’t really know what that says about me (yikes), but I couldn’t really think about anything other than telling my own stories. It didn’t help that I really dislike children and wanted nothing to do with them. My parents convinced me to try attending the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in 2007 and get a BFA in comic art, and I’ve been drawing comics ever since.
U.K. publisher Nobrow has been making serous inroads in North America, thanks largely to a colorful, lively and diverse lineup of titles that appeal to a variety of ages while showcasing the strengths of the comics medium.
The new year might possibly be the company’s breakthrough into the American market, as it’s not only making a push with a new U.S. office, but also has a lineup of intriguing comics planned. Readers can expect to see a new book in the increasingly popular Hilda series from Luke Pearson, the second volume in Jesse Moynihan’s ongoing Forming storyline, an all-ages account of Shackleton’s journey to Antarctica, a comic about neuroscience and more.
Check out details about Nobrow’s upcoming releases, as well as some swell cover art, below.
Wonder what Koyama Press has planned for the coming year? Well, wonder no more: The company has announced it will release four books in May and June, including titles by acclaimed cartoonists Michael DeForge (Lose, Very Casual) and Jesse Jacobs (By This You Shall Know Him).
DeForge’s A Body Beneath will collect material from issues 2-5 of his one-man anthology series Lose. Jacobs’ Safari Honeymoon follows a newly married couple as they venture into a mysterious forest filled with weird creatures.
Koyama Press will also publish Cat Person by Seo Kim, a collection of comics by the Adventure Time storyboard artist starring herself and her cat, and 100 Crushes, which compiles artist Elisha Lim‘s gay-themed comics.
Then, in November, the company will release Distance Mover by Patrick Kyle. about a man who owns a magical vehicle that can explore the world when not fending off the evil “Ooze.”
You can find more information about all of these books, including cost and ISBN number, as well as some preview pages, below.
As Tom Spurgeon reported a few weeks ago, the small press publisher 2D Cloud announced it has five books planned for 2014. One of the two of those debuting in May at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival is Mark Connery’s Rudy by Mark Connery, featuring the character that’s been appearing in various minicomics and anthologies for a while now. But this is, to my mind, the first time he’s starred in his own full-fledged comic.
2D Cloud provided us with a short preview of the comic, which you can see below.
You’ve seen them at amusement parks and train stations, and perhaps even glimpsed some makeshift ones at weddings and other large social functions. Photo booths have been a part of Americana for generations, despite digital technology threatening to make them a relic of yesteryear. Still, most of us give them little thought beyond the opportunity to get a quick picture taken.
Not so with Meags Fitzgerald. The Canadian artist has been obsessed with the technology, history and aesthetics of photo booths for years, and she’s managed to turn her interest into a graphic novel, Photobooth: A Biography, which will be released in May by Conundrum Press. As you might expect, it delves deeply into the history of the device, its significance and what is being lost in the move to digital.
I interviewed Fitzgerald by email last week about her upcoming book and abiding love for this disappearing technology.
UPDATE 12/17/13 10:45 AM: CBR News reached HowardCantour.com star Jim Gaffigan’s management for comment: “Jim was an actor for hire on this project and had no creative input. We were all as surprised by this news as everybody else.”
UPDATE 11:05 PM: Shia LaBeouf has responded to reports via Twitter. Click here to read LeBouf’s response.
Actor and occasional cartoonist Shia LaBeouf has released online a short film titled HowardCantour.com, which stars comedian Jim Gaffigan as a defensive Internet film critic. Nothing wrong with that, except, as BuzzFeed noticed, the film bears a striking resemblance to Justin M. Damiano, a 2007 comic by Ghost World creator Daniel Clowes.
As the website points out, the film and the comic open with the same narration: “A critic is a warrior, and each of us on the battlefield have the means to glorify or demolish (whether a film, a career, or an entire philosophy) by influencing perception in ways that if heartfelt and truthful, can have far-reaching repercussions.”
It goes on from there. According to BuzzFeed and Wired, the film copies or approximates Clowes’ dialogue throughout, although LeBeouf – who, by the way, is on record as being a fan of Clowes’ work – has been quoted as saying the film came about “organically.”
This isn’t comics per se, but rather a collection of portraits Hornschemeier did of various notable figures as a late-night drawing exercise of sorts. One of the things I like is that Hornschemeier tries to change his style to suit the subject matter, or at least keep things from getting similar, so that Edward Gorey might be portrayed in a traditional stipple/cross-hatch method, J.D. Salinger and John Steinbeck are all made up of severe, angular, slashing lines, while P.G. Wodehouse seems to consist of a collection of basic geometric shapes that threaten to break off into pure abstraction. My favorites are probably the “blind continuous line” drawings, where Hornschemeier attempted to capture a person’s likeness without looking at the drawing or lifting his pen form the paper. These images have a lovely chaos to them that nevertheless manage to coalesce into an identifiable face.
On the downside, Hornschemeier has a tendency to elongate people’s faces, which can result in some rather odd-looking figures (Charles Schulz in particular seems rather off-model). He’s also obviously working off of photos, and part of me wished he took even more of a chance in attempting to draw his figures in different poses or expressions — especially with someone like Tesla, where the original image is so well know. On the upside, I also appreciated Hornschemeir’s notes in the back on each individual. Every so often he comes up with a delightful turn of phrase that captures an artist’s essence, as when he describes Richard Scarry art as, “The aesthetic equivalent of a towel fresh from the dryer.” All in all, it’s a nice little gift book that holiday present-shoppers can give to fans of Mother, Come Home or those who simply share the same sort of admiration Hornschemeier clearly does for these creative people.
While the original 2002, five-issue miniseries was in color, the 128-page trade collection ($19.99) will be in black and white but will feature two new pages by the Love and Rockets co-author.
ROBOT 6 readers with good memories might recall that I wrote about Grip earlier this year, lamenting that it was, to my knowledge, the only work by Hernandez that had never been compiled into book form.
To describe Grip’s plot takes some effort, as this is one of Hernandez’s more surreal and deliriously and wacky stories, involving a wide cast that includes an amnesiac young man, a pair of police detectives, a trio of Amazonian adventurers, another trio of gun-wielding gangsters, a sweet little old lady, a dwarf couple and a little girl with an eyepatch. As I wrote in May:
The story begins with the amnesiac young man wandering around a nondescript city and being assaulted by some of the people mentioned above for reasons that are murky at best. The story takes an even stranger left turn, however, when the man literally loses his skin at the end of the first issue and starts walking around beaches spouting seemingly half-remembered phrases. The skin starts to take on a life of its own as well.
2013 has blessed us with a bumper crop of great books by Hernandez that includes the critically acclaimed Marble Season and Julio’s Day, as well as Children of Palomar and Maria M. With Dark Horse planning to release Grip in addition to the collected edition of his more recent Fatima miniseries, it seems as though 2014 will continue that trend well into the new year.
I talked with Hernandez over the phone a few days before Thanksgiving about the new collection, the not-so-secret origins of Grip, and what else he’s working on.
The big news (for me at least) of the past week was Dan Nadel’s announcement that he has decided to close up shop on PictureBox, his publishing empire. While I completely understand his desire to focus his energies on other things it’s sad news nevertheless. PictureBox was one of the most interesting and daring comics publishers out there and the books they released helped change the conversation about what comics should be.
Thankfully, Nadel is going out with a bang in the form of a 50 percent-off sale through Jan. 2. PictureBox published so many excellent books by so many talented cartoonists – Lauren Weinstein, Mat Brinkman, Jonny Negron, Frank Santoro, Ben Jones, etc. – that making a few essential recommendations is a tough task to put it mildly. Still, if you’re looking to take advantage of the sale, and aren’t sure what to buy, here are some books I enjoyed a great deal and think you might too.
1. Gold Pollen and Other Stories by Seiichi Hayashi. One of the sadder tragedies of PictureBox’s closing is it comes just as critic and scholar Ryan Holmberg’s two new lines – Ten Cent Manga and Masters of Alternative Manga – were just getting started. I greatly enjoyed the two books in the Ten Cent line (The Mysterious Underground Men by Osamu Tezuka and Last of the Mohicans by Shigeru Sugiura) but it was Gold Pollen that really floored me. This collection of highly symbolic short stories (one uncompleted) present some really daring, exciting work by Hayashi (author of Red Colored Elegy), particularly the elegant, minimalist Red Dragonfly. That, combined with Holmberg’s insightful, educational essay make this my favorite book of 2013 thus far. The good news is that apparently Holmberg has found a publisher interested in picking up the Ten Cent Manga line. No word yet if the Alternative Manga line will find a benefactor, but let’s keep our fingers crossed.
Last weekend I went to Comic Arts Brooklyn. I bought a lot of comics. Here are six that I think are really good, and I think you should try to find as well.
I attended the first-ever Comic Arts Brooklyn festival on Saturday. The show, organized by Desert Island owner Gabe Fowler, is the offspring of the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival, which came to an end earlier this year zafter Fowler and the other organizers – Dan Nadel and Bill Kartalopoulos – decided to part ways.
Despite the different name, CAB (as it quickly came to be known) had a much similar feel and demeanor to BCGF, not terribly surprising since it was in the exact same location and featured many of the same exhibitors (along with some new faces of course). All of which is to say that CAB was a thoroughly enjoyable show, rich in the breadth and variety of small press work on display.
I pulled a number of photos and tweets taken during the show from the ether (OK, really just Storify) to give folks a sense of what the show was like. Enjoy.
His work might have a rushed, “dashed-off” look to it at times, but don’t kid yourself: Frank Santoro puts a lot of time and consideration into his comics. In fact, it’s safe to say he puts more thought into the overall structure and design of his pages than a lot of his contemporaries, as anyone who has read his “Layout Workbook” series of posts on TCJ.com can attest.
Santoro’s latest comic, the stand-alone graphic novel Pompeii, deals quite overtly with issues of art and craft, as it follows the story of aspiring ancient Roman artist Marcus who’s slaving away as an assistant to the more established painter Flavius (who has his own problems). Marcus is at something of a crossroads, frustrated by his slow progress under Flavius’ tutelage, but unwilling to move back home or reconsider his options, despite the pleadings of his girlfriend, Lucia. As you might expect given the book’s title, things come to a head quite violently with the eruption of a nearby volcano.
Overall Pompeii is a fast-paced but moving, almost tender at times, work, that begins almost as a sex farce but quickly turns into a more considered and elegiac consideration of careers, youth, love and the purpose of art and artistry in our lives.
I talked with Santoro recently about his new book and its conception.
A young girl ventures into an abandoned, labyrinthine city in order to find her lost brother, despite it’s being haunted by malevolent demons. One of the strengths of Wartman’s debut graphic novel is that he doesn’t vary much from that core story outline. He dabbles in a lot of overly familiar genre and mythological tropes to be sure (there’s some business with the demons being named and people entering the city forgetting who they are) but he doesn’t play up these elements too strongly or let them overwhelm the story, instead keeping the focus on the girl and her desire to locate her brother. I also liked the relationship between the girl and a somewhat helpful demon who seems so astonished that someone would willingly enter the city that he ends up acting as a benefactor. Again, it’s a familiar trope, but paces the story well enough that it never once feels rote or cliched.
Another key to the book’s success is the city itself. I can’t emphasize enough the need for cartoonists, especially young cartoonists, to set their stories in a well-defined universe. This is especially true in fantasy stories, where the reader needs to get a sense of the physical world the characters inhabit in order to be willing to accept the supernatural and logic-defying events that occur in the story. You can’t map out Wartman’s city in your head, but the seemingly endless panels of well-detailed corridors, stairs, gardens and passageways give a sense of scale to the story. The city seems so foreboding and ancient, you worry the characters really will lose their way. Overall I just appreciated this well-structured, engrossing adventure tale and hope it’s a sign of more good things to come from this particular cartoonist.
Leach’s big follow-up to 2011’s Pterodactyl Hunters is a very entertaining, tightly paced crime comic about two hoodlums living in Newark, New Jersey, in the early ’60s and the trouble they get into running “errands” for one of the local gangsters. I really liked the way Leach sets up the story, with a violent incident on a bus that quickly establishes the characters’ personalities and relationships to each other but also becomes an even more significant incident once you learn what those two were doing on that bus. Leach has an angular, slashing style that fits the grittiness of the material and also keeps the narrative moving a hurried clip, rarely taking a moment to pause. There’s at least one big plot hole that gave me pause (without spoiling anything, I find it difficult to believe that a certain ancillary character’s death would generate such a minor reaction from family members, friends and various authorities not on the take). A bit more perspective and varied viewpoints (it’s notable there’s no parental units to be found in Iron Bound) might have given the story a bit more depth, although it could also have easily slackened the book’s drumbeat pace. Overall, this is a sharp, strong book, a smart follow-up to Hunters and proof that Leach is a cartoonist to watch. The book even comes with a flexi-disc record to play during the story’s big fight/climax, a really terrific conceit, even if the nerd in me is hesitant to play it, for fear of damaging the book’s “mint” condition (you never know what might be worth money some day).