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Sunday, March 27, 2005

The Comics Journal Special Edition Vol. 5 -- Head over to the Comics Journal website to get a rundown and preview of the contents of the new Special Edition, which has some informative and entertaining pieces on manga (including one by once and future Galaxy contributor and Eisner-nominated comics writer Rob Vollmar of The Castaways and Bluesman fame), tons of comic strips (like this one by Carol Swain) on the subject of "seduction," and other great essays and articles as well.

The article that surprised me the most was Bob Levin's touching, brilliant biography of the late cartoonist Vaughan Bode. I remember coming across Bode's work in the 1970s, but as a pre-teen being completely unable to process or even begin to understand Bode's seemingly otherworldly talent. Levin's piece gave me a whole new understanding and appreciation of Bode's work, and invaluable insight into the tragic, seemingly unavoidable course his life took. The new TCJ Special Edition quite literally is worth the cover price for this piece alone.

But there's lots of other wonderful stuff filling out the book (and it is a big, oversized book, not a magazine), and it'll take you days or even weeks to absorb all the information and entertainment contained in it. These Special Editions and their companion publications The Comics Journal Library editions forcusing on single cartoonists like Jack Kirby and Frank Miller, are essential additions to the reading library of anyone with an interest in comics. Congratulations and a big THANK YOU to Gary Groth, Dirk Deppey, Kim Thompson, Eric Reynolds and everyone else at Fantagraphics for this one, and for all the other great work they do. Comics literally wouldn't be worth bothering with without them.


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