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Thursday, January 01, 2004

Fantagraphics News -- Here's the latest newsletter from America's finest comics publisher, Fantagraphics Books:

The F.B.I. Informant
Vol. IV, #7
December 31, 2003

Welcome to our final newsletter of 2003! Thanks to everyone who has helped us get through the year and we look forward to bringing you some amazing projects in 2004. In the meantime, here's a quick rundown of what's come out since the last newsletter, and then ON WITH THE NEWS!

* YOUNG GODS & FRIENDS by Barry Windsor-Smith
* ZIPPY ANNUAL 2003 by Bill Griffith
* BLAB! Vol. 14 by various artists
* BELLYBUTTON COMIX #1 by Sophie Crumb
* APE by Ted Jouflas
* LOVE & ROCKETS #9 by Los Bros Hernandez
* HATE ANNUAL #4 by Peter Bagge
* EVIL EYE #11 by Richard Sala
* BLACK HOLE #11 by Charles Burns
* THE COMICS JOURNAL #257 with Rick Griffin
* ANGRY YOUTH COMIX #6 by Johnny Ryan
* THE POGOSTICK #2 by Columbia & Persoff
* PALESTINE by Joe Sacco
* USAGI YOJIMBO Vols. 5 & 7 by Stan Sakai

Congratulations are due to GENE DEITCH for receiving ASIFA-HOLLYWOOD's prestigious WINSOR McCAY AWARD. Deitch is of course the renowned animator and author of Fantagraphics CAT ON A HOT THIN GROOVE.

Each year a Winsor McCay Award is awarded to a maximum of three individuals in recognition of lifetime or career contributions to the art of animation in producing, directing, animating, designing, writing, voice acting, sound and sound effects, technical work, music, professional teaching, or for other endeavors which exhibit outstanding contributions to excellence in animation.

The presentation of the award will be made on Saturday, Feb. 7th at the Alex Theatre in Glendale, CA. For you Los Angeleans, there will also be a special tribute screening devoted to Deitch at the historic, restored Grauman's EGYPTIAN THEATRE on Hollywood Blvd. (home of the L.A. based AMERICAN CINEMATHEQUE) on Tuesday, Feb. 10th. The theatre features state of the art projection - 35mm, 16mm, and all forms of video and digital projection.

Full details of the film program still being decided, but the plan is to include one of Deitch's earliest cartoons, BUILDING FRIENDS FOR BUSINESS, as well as 35mm prints of SCOPE TERRYTOONS, TOM TERRIFIC, MUNRO and other Rembrandt and Weston Woods productions. Plans are also underway for a Q & A/book signing with Deitch at the screening.

CONGRATULATIONS to one of the all-time swell guys we've met in this crazy cartoon racket.

WHAT A DEAL! JESSICA ABEL's LA PERDIDA five-issue miniseries has been widely hailed as Abel's most fully-realized and ambitious work to date, but we sold out of the first issue earlier this year and have been unable to reprint it due to our ongoing financial struggles (issues #2 and #3 are both available; #4 and #5 have yet to be published). As a result, Abel has posted the entire contents of LA PERDIDA #1 on her site (you'll find links on the Fanta site as well). We think it will pay off, because once you read the entire, 48-page issue you'll be hooked and buy #2 and #3 so fast that we'll be able to afford that reprint of #1 in no time:


More details as the event approaches, but CHRIS WARE and THIS AMERICAN LIFE's IRA GLASS will take part in a public conversation at UCLA's ROYCE HALL in Los Angeles, CA on April 10. Titled "Visible and Invisible Drawings," tickets start at $17 for UCLA students and $28 for non-students.

Author FRANK THORNE will be doing a signing for his new book, THE CRYSTAL BALLROOM, at the new Barnes & Noble in Clark, NJ on February 24 at 7:30 PM. Meanwhile, any of you Thorne fans who receive THE PLAYBOY CHANNEL in your cable television lineup should keep your eyes peeled for PLAYBOY'S WORLD OF CARTOONS AND FUNNIES. The show features a lead interview with the longtime cartoon contributor, who also performs with a model costumed as Thorne's characters MOONSHINE MCJUGS and GHITA.

Speaking of our ongoing effort to, well, make money, we're auctioning off rare items on eBay. Right now we're offering an extremely rare copy of BREAKDOWNS by Art Spiegelman. The auction lasts another week, get the full details here:


Don't miss the special, DOUBLE-sized TENTH issue of LOVE AND ROCKETS, coming in March. JAIME closes a chapter in Maggie's life with a special 20-page centerpiece story. On the 'BETO side of the fence, his "Julio's Day" serial returns with the first of several longer chapters, each of which will establish the serial as Gilbert's possible MAGNUM OPUS (if that's possible from the author of POISON RIVER and PALOMAR).

This issue also features a number of fun shorts, including Gilbert's ultimate "Roy" epic, as Roy is joined by Madame X, her psychiatrist Dr. Fausto, the Little Stunt Boy, and sister Mary Joseph and the monster she covets in a SUPERFRIENDS-type super-team mission to combat Roy's nemesis, the Froat. There's also a "Whatever Happened to...?" one-pager for many of the older LR characters (Castle Radium, Inez and Bang Bang, Errata Stigmata, Emico from Twitch City, and more) -- and the rousing CONCLUSION to the Beto/Mario psychothriller "Me for the Unknown"! With a few other surprises, this issue is a virtual graphic novel unto itself with 50 pages of all-new work from Los Bros., but it's all for the price of a regulah ol' comic book! ($5.95, that is.)

As briefly mentioned last time (we got word just as we were going to press), Fantagraphics placed two books - GILBERT HERNANDEZ's PALOMAR and SPAIN RODRIGUEZ's NIGHTMARE ALLEY -- on PUBLISHERS WEEKLY's "Best of 2003" graphic novels list. But, we completely neglected to mention that PATRICK ROSENKRANZ's fantastic history book, REBEL VISIONS: THE UNDERGROUND COMIX REVOLUTION 1963-1975, was named to PW's "Best of 2003" illustrated books list, and also showed up on AMAZON.COM's "Best Of 2003" illustrated books list as well. Congratulations, Patrick!

The special PW "YEAR IN BOOKS" coverage appears in the Nov. 17 issue and can be read in full online at:

http://publishersweekly.reviewsnews.com/ index.asp?layout=article&articleid=CA336200

A new PETER BAGGE interview is available online at:


A new DANIEL CLOWES interview is available online at:


The Nov. 17th issue of PUBLISHERS WEEKLY gave Chris Ware's QUIMBY THE MOUSE a starred review and had this to say: "This large-format collection of Ware's early work... still feels amazingly fresh... All of the work is packaged impeccably - Ware's beautiful gold foil stamped cover alone is worth the book's price, while his running joke that the book is, in fact, a discarded library book is funny and touching, underscoring comics' ephemeral quality."

Now, it's funny that they should mention it, because we here at FBI HQ would like to specifically address the "discarded" nature of the QUIMBY book. Due to the volume of calls and letters we have received, FANTAGRAPHICS has had to hire its own HOMELAND DEFENSE TEAM to combat the onslaught of demands that we send book buyers "correct" copies of QUIMBY THE MOUSE. So, many thanks to PUBLISHERS WEEKLY for clearing up this confusion. If any Defense Team field agents are reading, you are hereby dismissed and being replaced with a Xerox from PW.

Mr. Ware's QUIMBY garnered more praise from FOREWORD MAGAZINE: "The hard cover is utterly spectacular, combining cartooning with ornate baroque flourishes and gold trim, and the artwork inside (a mix of color and black and white) is diverse, well executed, and beguiling..."

Flanking a review of MADONNA'S new book, QUIMBY was also featured in the Sunday edition of the PENNSYLVANIA PATRIOT-NEWS (Nov. 9th): "... Ware manages to smoothly juggle such morose themes as loneliness, the death of a loved one, failed romance, despair and the pains of childhood. Such topics may not be what the average reader turns to a comic book for, but Ware's excellent sense of design and restless experimentation make the journey worthwhile. Few artists today are able to handle such intense and painful emotions with such grace and stunning inventiveness (not to mention black humor)."

Bathe in the well-deserved adjectives, Mr. Ware!

Do you like comics about big-eyed cuties taking their shirts off (momentarily) and flaunting their catholic plaid dresses in your face? Yes, us too, but thankfully the folks at FOREWARD have exhibited better taste, paying tribute to JIM WOODRING's glorious THE FRANK BOOK. "The nearly wordless THE FRANK BOOK by Jim Woodring draws the eye like a bejeweled train wreck," it is written.

Meanwhile, if you haven't purchased THE FRANK BOOK YET, you'd better: the first printing is almost gone and available only via mail order. If you don't, you'll regret it.

But don't take our word for it: DAZED & CONFUSED'S Sylvia Fargo wrote a glowing review of JIM WOODRING'S THE FRANK BOOK last month. "Jim Woodring's deeply hallucinogenic Frank comics have been transporting fans far from this mundane world through its acid ink-splashed pages since back in the early '90s. Based in Seattle, Woodring is widely considered once of the most important cartoonists living today and Frank is an endearing guide into the mind of an artist who it seems has consumed just enough conscious-expanding substances to twist his imagination, but not so many as to dull its edges." Whoa, don't eat the brown Pushpaw, folks.

This past November, TIME.COM'S ANDREW D. ARNOLD braved the potentially weary discussion of, "What exactly is a comic book?" Thanks to Scott McCloud, this is of course a game that has become almost as ubiquitous as Trivial Pursuit, though Arnold holds his own much better than most and directs his discussion towards an audience less beleaguered by the topic than we are.

The way we see it, no matter how hard you try to dress it up, a comic is a comic is a comic. You can give it a top hat and cane and call it a graphic novel, or not. Chip Kidd tells Arnold that he thinks there isn't much difference between "Novels" and "Graphic Novels." The "Graphic Novels" buyer for BORDERS BOOKS, however, makes the somewhat horrifying (though no doubt true) claim that Mr. Art Spiegelman's MAUS sells better when it is placed next to AMAZING SPIDER-MAN merchandise than when it's placed next to other books about the Holocaust. Which begs the question of whether SCHINDLER'S LIST might get rented more often if racked next to JURASSIC PARK 3. Maybe it would, but should it be?

Arnold follows his discussion up with a list of his top 25 "Graphic Novels" from the past 25 graphically novelish years. Within this list he offers favorable mentions of a number of choice comics from within the FANTAGRAPHICS sphere of influence: BOULEVARD OF BROKEN DREAMS by KIM DEITCH, DAVID BORING by DAN CLOWES, EPILEPTIC VOL. 1 by DAVID B., JIMMY CORRIGAN by CHRIS WARE, NIGHTMARE ALLEY by SPAIN, PALOMAR by GILBERT HERNANDEZ, and SAFE AREA GORAZDE by JOE SACCO. In fact, looking over the list, it would appear that FANTAGRAPHICS has the high score of "GRAPHIC NOVELS" on the list. We think we like these "GRAPHIC NOVELS," after all!

This past November the NATIONAL POST printed a fantastic article by JEET HEER praising BOB LEVIN'S fascinating book, THE PIRATES AND THE MOUSE: DISNEY'S WAR AGAINST THE COUNTERCULTURE. "Although small in size, Mickey was always fighting back against big bullies. In recent decades, Mickey lost his fighting spirit, and is usually seen as an anodyne corporate symbol for Disney's global entertainment empire."

"ANODYNE"!?! Be still our heart! This is a really great article; search it out.

Oh yeah, national wet blanket TRINA ROBBINS elbows her way into the piece with her usually-fitful and annoyed aplomb: "There are still those, even in the freewheeling world of underground cartoonists, who believe that by trampling on copyright the Air Pirates simply went too far. I own my work and I don't want to be ripped off," says the author of A CENTURY OF WOMEN CARTOONISTS. "Dan O'Neill owns ODD BODKINS just like Disney owns Mickey Mouse. It doesn't matter that Disney is a big corporation and Dan O'Neill is one guy. Copyright laws apply to everyone." Tell it to A.A. Milne, Trina.

That George Herriman's KRAZY KAT is the best thing ever? Long after our pinky fingers feed the trees, robots will still be reading KRAZY. A starred review in PUBLISHERS WEEKLY will go a long way towards ensuring this future. To wit: "KRAZY KAT remains as good a comic as there ever was, and this beautifully produced book is a must for any reader interested in great art."

By the way, our second KRAZY & IGNATZ book (1927-1928) is almost sold out and available only through mail order, so get it while you can.

Our favorite review of the month, from clinical psychologist Christian Perring, Ph.D., on DAVE COOPER's book, RIPPLE: A PREDILECTION FOR TINA: "He is soon dressing her up in bondage gear and becoming sexually fixated on her, despite being revolted by her body. The texture of the art here is a little cleaner than in Cooper's other books; you don't feel as if simply walking into a scene would give you a contagious disease. However... The artwork is crudely pornographic and is bound to offend people with delicate sensibilities."

No, not that annoying "surf" song with all the "ha-ha-has"... WISCONSIN BOOKWATCH gave us a beautiful blurb for FRANCESCA GHERMANDI's graphic novel, THE WIPEOUT: "... a bizarrely surreal allegorical graphic novel about bitter cross-purposes, manipulations, selfish desires, and overwhelmingly guilt-ridden nightmares. An ordinary worker becomes the victim of omens and nightmares in which he dreams of murder, and paranoia wracks him beyond the limits of sanity, yet he is being manipulated by a far more ruthless presence in this twisted parable."

Now, Granddad always refers to FANTAGRAPHICS BOOKS as "fantasy-land books," so I don't know where you sit, but after reading that review, I feel proud. Why haven't you bought this book yet?

In a conversation earlier this month about the release of the de-Spectorized version of THE BEATLES' LET IT BE, fellow Beatlemaniac JOE SACCO told us, "I will no longer look at LET IT BE as a sort of subpar effort with a smattering of great songs. Now it is about as exciting as anything they did. That's my fucking verdict, and you can quote me in the Fantagraphics Newsletter for all I care." Sir Paul, are you reading?

Congratulations are due to proud parents JASON LITTLE & MYLA GOLDBERG on the birth of their daughter, MIZELLE ANEEK GOLDBERG LITTLE! The healthy baby girl entered our world on December 6th, 2003; we look forward to her first work of fiction, sometime around the end of the decade.


The following books and comics have shipped since our last newsletter. Visit www.fantagraphics.com for full new release details and ordering info.

* YOUNG GODS & FRIENDS by Barry Windsor-Smith. Collecting the acclaimed BWS: STORYTELLER serial with tons of added material! Available in hardcover and signed hardcover formats. $29.95/$49.95

* ZIPPY ANNUAL 2003 by Bill Griffith. Another year of the pinhead in one classy softcover volume, fully annotated by Griffy himself! $19.95

* A.B. FROST'S STUFF & NONSENSE. Collecting three albums of sequential graphic stories (comics) originally published during the celebrated 19th Century American illustrator's lifetime! Hardcover. $24.95

* WILL ELDER: THE MAD PLAYBOY OF ART. The legendary MAD and PLAYBOY cartoonist (in collaboration with HARVEY KURTZMAN) finally gets the coffee-table book he deserves! Intro by Daniel Clowes, available in soft, hard, and signed hardcover formats. $49.95/$69.95/$79.95

* PRINCE VALIANT VOL. 49 by Hal Foster & John Cullen Murphy. The penultimate volume in the softcover series. $18.95

* MANIAC KILLER STRIKES AGAIN by Richard Sala. Ten previously out-of-print Sala classics, re-worked exclusively for this new softcover collection! $16.95

* BLAB! VOL. 14 by various artists. Featuring: Camille Rose Garcia (who did the covers), Sue Coe, David Sandlin, Jonathon Rosen, Marc Rosenthal, Gary Baseman, Peter Kuper, Blanquet, the Clayton Brothers and many more! Softcover. $19.95

* BELLYBUTTON #1 by Sophie Crumb. Forget the pedigree, this is the real deal: a funny and engaging, stand-alone debut from a powerful new voice in comics, told in a lovely two-color format. $4.95

* APE by Ted Jouflas. If you hate George W. as much as we do, then Ted Jouflas is about to become your new favorite cartoonist thanks to this brutal and imaginative satire of the current administration. $4.95

* MABEL NORMAND & FRIENDS by various artists. Kim Deitch delivered the cover for this one-shot collection of vintage comic strips devoted to silent film comedy stars like Normand and Fatty Arbuckle. $4.95

* HATE ANNUAL #4 by Peter Bagge. Buddy Bradley is back and he's BROWN! Hell, he's ever brought Bugles and Jimmy Foley with him! Plus: Lovey! Al Gore! The A-Teens! Ross Perot! $4.95

* EVIL EYE #11 by Richard Sala. It's the penultimate chapter of "Reflections In a Glass Scorpion," which has anchored the series since issue 1! The mystery is almost revealed! $3.95

* BLACK HOLE #11 by Charles Burns. Not only the penultimate chapter, but the penultimate ISSUE! Buy it NOW (and bear in mind that any collection is still at least three years away). $4.95

* THE COMICS JOURNAL #256 featuring Fort Thunder. An appreciation of the Fort, by Tom Spurgeon, plus interviews with Mat Brinkman, Brian Chippendale, and Brian Ralph. Plus: Barefoot Gen's KEIJI NAKAZAWA!

* THE COMICS JOURNAL #257 featuring Rick Griffin. Featuring three - count 'em, THREE never-before-published interviews with the late ZAP and psychedelic poster artist, Rick Griffin. Plus: Spurgeon takes on Joe Casey. $6.95

* ANGRY YOUTH COMIX #6 by Johnny Ryan. In this ish: Martians make culinary demands on Loady and Sinus! Boobs Pooter humps dinner! Sherlock McRape asks, "Who Hit Nellie In the Belly With Jelly?" The President's urine is kidnapped! Two nancy-boys duke it out for the title of "World's #1 Undisputed OId-Timey Egomaniac"! Plus much more! $3.50

* LOVE & ROCKETS #9 by Gilbert, Jaime & Mario Hernandez. The final chapter of 'Beto's "High Soft Lisp"! Maggie goes to Izzy's for Halloween! Plus "Me For the Unknown" and "Julio's Day!" $3.95

* POGOSTICK #2 by Ethan Persoff & Al Columbia. Things get real horrorshow in the second chapter of this black comedy, The Pogostick. Unless, that is, you were expecting Haitian zombies, voodoo warlords, a cancer patient, a butcher knife, sudden unemployment, the disadvantages of caller I.D., a horrible death, a cuckoo's nest revisited, cops with guns and flashlights, an ambulance, fat garbage bags, a clean apartment, and the gentle flow of blood on a carpet... $4.95

For more information or to order, visit Fantagraphics.com.


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