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Comics A.M. | Rare Brazilian comics stolen in armed robbery

O Lobinho

O Lobinho

Crime | Three armed men invaded the home of comics collector Antonio Jose da Silva in Sao Paolo, Brazil, and held him and two employees at gunpoint while they stole more than 7,000 comics from his collection of about 200,000. The robbers seemed to know exactly what they were looking for, as they went straight for the most valuable books. Their haul included more than 200 first editions of O Lobinho and O Gibi, which reprinted translations of American comics in the 1930s and 1940s. The value of the thieves haul is estimated at $150,000, and the loss will be borne by da Silva, who was unable to get insurance for his collection. [The Comics Reporter]

Comics | Dana Jennings looks at the renewed interest in EC Comics, once reviled in the popular press as mind-destroying trash that would lead youths astray, now revered by the comics cognoscenti as subversive graphic literature. Locke & Key writer Joe Hill and EC Archives editor Russ Cochran weigh in, as does Fantagraphics President Gary Groth, editor of that company’s EC Library, who says, “They were arguably the best commercial comics company in the history of the medium, and their list of artists and writers between 1950 and 1955 represents a Who’s Who of the most accomplished craftsmen working in comics at that time.” [The New York Times]

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Reviews | ‘Hip Hop Family Tree,’ ‘Treasury of Mini Comics’ and ‘Heroic Tales’

Hip Hop Family Tree

Hip Hop Family Tree

Hip Hop Family Tree by Ed Piskor, Fantagraphics Books, 120 pages, $24.99.

I enjoy both hip-hop and reading books about the history of music or nascent art forms in general, so this book fits right in my wheelhouse anyway, but, man, did I like this comic. I liked the way Piskor designed the book, making it look like one of those oversized Marvel or DC “Treasury” books from the 1970s, and even goes so far as to use newsprint-like paper and print the colors slightly off-register at times, all the better to evoke those lap-sized comics of yesteryear. I liked the way he juggles a huge cast of characters, jumping around from one to the next without losing or confusing the reader. I like how he employs some wonderful bits of cartoonish exaggeration (that, it should be noted, never devolves into ethnic stereotyping), so that Grandmaster Flash wears an impossibly large cap, Mellie Mel’s afro seems larger than his head at times, and Russell Simmons is a cross-eyed guy with a bad lisp. Piskor seems to know intuitively how to relate the best, most revealing and juiciest anecdotes without bogging the reader down in minutiae. I’ve enjoyed Piskor’s work in the past (most notably with his hacker book Wizzywig) but he’s never seemed quite as confident a storyteller as he does here. Can’t wait for volume two.

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Linda Medley is back at work on ‘Castle Waiting’ … and more!

12 witches fcFans of Linda Medley’s Castle Waiting have had to be very patient, as there was a four-year gap between the release of the first volume in 2006 and the second in 2010. Last year, three more chapters were released as single issues that finished the story of volume 2, and Fantagraphics published the work anew as a “definitive edition.”

This week, the Fantagraphics blog updated Medley fans with news that she’s back at work on Castle Waiting, drawing storyboards for the third volume — although the publisher can’t say yet in what format the new story will be released.

And there’s more: Medley has also dusted off an unfinished project, Twelve Witches, a Castle Waiting spinoff for younger readers. As she explained in this 1999 interview, it’s based on the characters in her first comic The Curse of Brambly Hedge, which was originally published with the support of a Xeric grant. (Another interesting tidbit from that interview: Medley was a penciler for Justice League of America and Doom Patrol, both very different from her current work.)

Fantagraphics has posted some penciled pages from Twelve Witches on its Tumblr.

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Fantagraphics announces Bagge, Clowes, ‘Peanuts’ collections

Complete EightballTom Spurgeon has posted three Fantagraphics announcements that look interesting in very different ways:

The first is Batter Up, Charlie Brown, another in the series of Peanuts collections organized around a theme, rather than chronologically. It’s due in April, just in time for Opening Day. As Tom notes, this must mean that last year’s Christmas-themed book went over pretty well, and he also points out that the 65th anniversary of the strip is coming up in 2015.

Next up is The Complete Eightball, collecting the first 18 issues of Daniel Clowes’ comic in a deluxe format, two hardcover volumes in a slipcase. Eightball has been collected before, but not like this: In addition to the prestige format, the new edition, which coincides with the 25th anniversary of Eightball‘s debut, includes material that has only been published in the original comics. Fantagraphics Associate Publisher Eric Reynolds told Spurgeon there is “a not-insigificant amount of strips that for whatever reason, Dan never wanted to collect.” The book will also include additional commentary by Clowes, making it sort of the director’s cut of Eightball. Watch for it in August 2014, and start saving now, as the list price is $95.

Finally, there’s Buddy Buys a Dump, the latest collection of Peter Bagge’s Buddy Bradley comics, and the first to appear in seven years. The 144-page book will include some previously unpublished material, and the expected publication date is in April.

Comics A.M. | Fantagraphics to publish Don Rosa Library

Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck: "The Son of the Sun"

Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck: “The Son of the Sun”

Publishing | Although there’s been no official announcement beyond an Amazon listing, Fantagraphics is set to publish a Don Rosa Library line, beginning next summer with the 248-page hardcover Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck: “The Son of the Sun.” That was the title of the cartoonist’s first Scrooge McDuck comic, released in 1987. [The Comics Reporter]

Creators | Writer and editor J.W. Rinzler talks about adapting George Lucas’ initial draft of the Star Wars screenplay into the Dark Horse comic The Star Wars: “This is not something you could film. Here’s a giant city and then here’s a giant vista filled with huge spacecraft. (Lucas) was doing his blue sky version of what he wanted to do. He knew this was not going to be filmable.” [The Associated Press]

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Comics A.M. | Archie alters story arc over Russia’s anti-gay laws

Kevin Keller's first kiss

Kevin Keller’s first kiss

Publishing | The Archie gang has canceled a (fictional) trip to Russia because of that country’s draconian anti-gay laws. One law would allow the arrest of foreigners suspected of being gay or “pro-gay,” while another defines any pro-gay statement as pornography and therefore makes it a criminal act to make such statements in front of anyone under the age of 18. Archie cartoonist Dan Parent, who created Riverdale’s first openly gay character, Kevin Keller, is taking a stand in his own way: “Russia should be boycotted, so much so that actually in an upcoming special four-issue story arc I’m writing the Archie gang are going to take a world tour to four countries. Russia was to be one of them. But they’re not going there now. They just can’t and they won’t. They love and support Kevin.” [Back2Stonewall]

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SDCC Exclusive | Fantagraphics to publish ‘Megahex’ by Simon Hanselmann

tumblr_mmlbwpQ1YT1ru22woo1_1280

Fantagraphics Books announced today at Comic-Con International in San Diego that it will publish the work of Australian cartoonist Simon Hanselmann, best known for his ongoing series of “Megg, Mogg and Owl” strips that he now releases on his blog Girl Mountain.

Titled Megahex, the hardcover will feature than 200 pages of Megg and Mogg comics, including 70 never-before-seen pages. It will debut in summer 2014.

For those that aren’t familiar with Hanselmann’s work, Fantagraphics’ press release aptly sums up its unique appeal:

Megg (a green-skinned witch), Mogg (a black cat), and Owl (an anthropomorphic owl) are a trio of ne’er–do–well roommates cohabiting in a suburban flop house. Megg and Mogg spend most of their time smoking pot and having sex while Owl works various office jobs and usually comes home to find himself the as the butt of every joke. Behind the fart jokes and stoner humor are the depressed and misanthropic lives of these characters. Each possess their own tragedy which weighs on their shoulders, keeping them from escaping the nihilistic pit into which they’ve fallen.  Equally funny and melancholic, Hanselmann is able to evoke empathy for his characters, making it easy for readers fall in love with this disdainful bunch. Part Ernest Hemingway, part Johnny Ryan, Megahex will make people laugh, cry, and then take a shower.

“This is literally a teenage dream,” Hanselmann goes on to say. “Fantagraphics has been my favorite/the best comics publisher since forever. I’ve had a Fantagraphics poster hanging over my bed since I was fourteen. My brain is doing confused celebratory cartwheels.”

This is indeed excellent news. As anyone whose read Hanselmann’s comics knows, he’s one of the most interesting cartoonist to come out of the Internet in recent years. While taking the basic template of your average stoner comedy (albeit with some fantasy and funny animal elements), Hanselmann isn’t afraid to take his characters into some very dark (and given their recreational habits, logical) places. It’s emotionally powerful, raw and uncompromising work that also happens to be really funny.

You can read the full press released after the jump, along with a short Q&A I conducted with Hanselmann via email.

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SDCC ’13 | Fantagraphics to publish Eleanor Davis collection

eden-4

An excerpt from “In Our Eden,” a comics short published in 2012’s Nobrow #7.

The Comics Reporter has word that comics wunderkind Eleanor Davis will be doing a standalone short-story collection with Fantagraphics, edited by Gary Groth.

This as-yet-untitled book will be Davis’ first major work since 2009’s The Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook from Bloomsbury Children’s. In that time the cartoonist has created extensive shorter works for Fantagraphics’ Mome anthology as well as for Little House Comics, the boutique publishing imprint she co-owns with her husband Drew Weing.

‘A unique American success story': Celebrating ‘Love and Rockets’ with Marc Sobel

The Love and Rockets Companion

The Love and Rockets Companion

Hitting the 30th anniversary of your career in comics is always worth celebrating given the medium’s tendency to chew up and spit talented people out (speaking of which, did you see that Graham Chaffee has a new book out?) That’s doubly true in the case of the Hernandez brothers, as Gilbert and Jaime (and sometimes Mario) have not only been able to stay in the game despite the various radical shifts in the landscape, they’ve been able to produce challenging, thoughtful, emotionally powerful comic consistently over the course of those three decades with nary a drop in quality.

Fantagraphics is celebrating the anniversary with a trio of books the focus squarely on the brothers’ signature title: The Love & Rockets Reader and Love and Rockets: The Covers – both due out later this year –  and The Love and Rockets Companion: 30 Years (and Counting) the latter of which, co-edited by Marc Sobel and Kristy Valenti, just came out this past week. It’s an impressively thick tribute to L&R, featuring three lengthy interviews with the cartoonists, a complete list of characters in both Jaime’s Locas series and Gilbert’s Palomar saga, a timeline of the stories, an issue checklist and even a selection of highlights from the letter columns. In short, it’s the perfect scrapbook to some of the best comics ever made.

Sobel is the perfect person to be help shepherd this book: He’s written at length about Love & Rockets for Sequart (and the bulk of those essays will appear in the L&R Reader), and always with insight and intelligence. I talked with Marc over email about the book, how it came together and why it’s important to celebrate and discuss the Hernandez brothers’ work to such a degree. I could have kept the discussion going for days.

How were you initially introduced to Love & Rockets?

As a lifelong comics fan, I was aware of Love & Rockets for years, but I was too young when the series started and then I was just always reading new comics, so I never went back and checked it out. But around 2006, after a few years of writing reviews online, I decided I wanted to school myself in the classics of the medium so I would be a better, more informed writer, and I could enjoy higher quality comics, instead of just always following the latest fads. I decided to start with Love and Rockets because I found someone selling the entire 50 issues of volume 1 on eBay for cheap.

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Comics A.M. | Retailers high on Image, ‘Saga’ & creator-owned

Saga, Vol. 2

Saga, Vol. 2

Retailing | Publishers Weekly’s annual comics retailer survey yields some interesting commentary, although the sample size is small (just 10 stores): Sales are up, retailers are optimistic, and Saga is the hot book right now. Also, booksellers who underestimated the demand for Chris Ware’s Building Stories lost out to direct-market retailers who didn’t, making for some nice extra sales during the holiday season. And while readers seem to be getting tired of the Big Two and their event comics, they are more enthusiastic than ever before about creator-owned comics, and Image is doing quite well. [Publishers Weekly]

Awards | Ladies Making Comics presents the complete list of women Eisner nominees for this year, noting that women have been nominated in almost every category. [Ladies Making Comics]

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SDCC ’13 | Saturday programming schedule released

Comic-Con International

Comic-Con International

Comic-Con International continued to reveal the programming schedule for San Diego as they rolled out the panels and events scheduled for Saturday, July 20.

The third day brings panels from Skybound, BOOM!, Archaia, Top Shelf, Fantagraphics, Drawn + Quarterly, Top Cow, Archie, Action Lab Entertainment, IDW and Rebellion, Dark Horse, Image Comics, Valiant and Lion Forge Comics, the makers of those Saved by the Bell and Knight Rider comics that are coming soon. DC has panels dedicated to Green Lantern, Superman’s 75th anniversary, Sandman and Batman: Year Zero, while Marvel has panels on Infinity, their video games, animation slate and their movies, which include Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier (no doubt they’ll have a little more than that). In what is likely his first trip to Comic-Con, Congressman John Lewis will be on hand to talk about his book from Top Shelf, March.

You’ll also find spotlight panels on Russ Heath, Sam Kieth, Val Mayerik, Vera Brosgol, John Romita Jr., Jon Bogdanove, Jim Lee, George Perez, Gerry Conway, Frank Brunner, Roy Thomas and Paul Dini, as well as a tribute to Joe Kubert. The day wraps up with the annual CCI Masquerade.

Check out some of the comics-related highlights below, and visit the Comic-Con website for the full schedule:

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Critic, editor, gentleman: Remembering Kim Thompson

kim thompson

It’s kind of impossible to overstate the influence Kim Thompson had on American comics. As co-publishers of Fantagraphics, he and Gary Groth transformed the way people thought about the medium, both in the pages of The Comics Journal and in the kinds of comics they published. If any one publisher can be regarded as the singular entity (and let me be clear, I’m really wary about staking that sort of claim) that made not just fans but the general public take notice and say, “Oh, hey, comics really are an art form and capable of greatness,”  it was these guys.

As you might have heard, Kim Thompson died Wednesday morning after being diagnosed with lung cancer. I thought I’d try to cobble together a few words about Kim’s legacy. (And I hope you don’t mind me calling him by his first name; although we were only casual acquaintances at best, it just feels weird to refer to him in anything but familiar terms.)

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Comics A.M. | Archie Comics experiences book-market boom

The Best of Archie Comics, Vol. 1

The Best of Archie Comics, Vol. 1

Publishing | Calvin Reid looks at Archie Comics’ growing book-market presence, which has exploded since the publisher signed Random House as its distributor in 2010. [Publishers Weekly]

Creators | Matt Kindt, author of Red-Handed, writes about how becoming a comics creator has made it impossible for him to enjoy reading comics for their own sake. [The Huffington Post]

Awards | Animal Land, by Zatch Bell creator Makoto Raiku, took the Best Children’s Manga honors in Kodansha’s 37th annual manga awards. The sports manga Gurazeni won the overall award for best manga. [Anime News Network]

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Comics A.M. | Silver Age artist Dan Adkins passes away

Art by Dan Adkins

Art by Dan Adkins

Passings | Silver Age artist Dan Adkins died earlier this month at the age of 76. Adkins, who began with self-published zines before becoming a freelance illustrator, served as Wally Wood’s assistant. As a member of Wood’s studio, he was one of the original artists for T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents. Adkins was a prolific penciller and inker for numerous publishers, from DC Comics and Warren Publishing to Harvey Comics and Marvel, notably drawing 132 covers for the latter. He talked in detail about his career, and working with Wood, in this interview with Alter Ego. [News from ME]

Kickstarter | Jeff Yang analyzes why Jonathan Coulton and Greg Pak’s Code Monkey Save World Kickstarter, which started with a single Tweet, was destined for success, and he talks to both creators about how it came to be. [Speakeasy]

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Comics A.M. | Direct market sales up 29% in first quarter

The Walking Dead, Vol. 17

The Walking Dead, Vol. 17

Retailing | The direct market is looking good, with first-quarter sales up 29 percent over last year, according to figures released at the Diamond Retailer Summit. Heidi MacDonald reports, “There was no single element which seemed to be behind to surge, although sales of The Walking Dead comics and graphic novels were frequently mentioned. The general interest in “nerd culture” seems to be driving much of the merchandise and publishing growth, with more offerings in the housewares category a standout: Diamond is now offering their own line of such things as bottle openers and ice cube trays, such as a Walking Dead themed ice cube tray in the shape of body parts.” [Publishers Weekly]

Conventions | CBR and Robot 6 are covering C2E2 in depth, but for a quick overview, check out Christopher Borrelli’s recap and photo gallery. [Chicago Tribune]

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