Saturday, June 03, 2006

 
An Infusion of Vitamin ADD -- If you enjoy my writing -- hey, you're here, right? -- you might be interested to know I have added a ton of my older opinion columns to the commentary page and quite a few previously unlisted reviews to my brand-new alphabetical ADD reviews archive.

So, if you ever wondered what I thought of a bunch of comics I forgot ever reading, never mind actually reviewing, check 'em out.

Keep in mind many of the opinions you'll read are quite a few years old, and may not completely reflect my thoughts circa 2006 CE, but, I kind of got a kick out of scanning through the ancient archives...

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Friday, June 02, 2006

 
New Jay Marcy Interview -- Over at Stumblebum Studios, the spotlight's on Jason Marcy. I cannot wait to get my hands on his next book, My Day in the Life of Jay, which, not for nothin', includes a story written by yours truly and illustrated by Jay his own self. Having that in my hands is going to be one of the coolest moments of the year for me.

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Warnock on The Hell of From Hell -- Over on his ubercool blog Hey, Bartender, Brett Warnock looks at the difficulties Top Shelf has had republishing From Hell, which to date is the most complex and rewarding graphic novel ever to be published.

In the same post, Brett takes a brief look at Dan Nadel's Art Out of Time, and feels the same way I do about the oxymoronic inclusion of Rory Hayes's work in the volume. Brett must have better eyesight than I do, because he is the first person to comment on the book who doesn't mention the difficulty of reading the newspaper comic strips that are reproduced way too small throughout the volume.

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Thursday, June 01, 2006

 
Art Out of Time -- Dan Nadel's hardcover art book surveys some of the wonkiest, almost-forgotten comics of the 20th century.

There's some wonderful stuff in the book, but most of the newspaper strips are reproduced at a ridiculously small size. Art Out of Time should either have been larger, or the strips excluded in favour of comics that more comfortably fit the format.

Probably my favourite stories in the book were by Bob Powell and Howard Nostrand, two journeyman artists who are showcased in truly bizarre little stories. This was also my first exposure to HERBIE THE FAT FURY, and found that, uh, not as entertaining or interesting as some people apparently have over the years.

I also found Rory Hayes much less interesting than I had previously heard; his inclusion in the book doesn't really make much sense, but, Nadel tries to explain it away in the text.

I may sound more negative than I mean to -- I think the plusses outweigh the minuses, and it's a great package of rarely-seen works by some pretty strange talents. The biggest flaw is the small size of the newspaper strips, but virtually all of the comic book material included is of interest in one way or another, and the design and production values are outstanding.

The Spurge had a nice preview of the book recently.

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What I Learned from 52 #4 -- Dan Jurgens doesn't know the meaning of the word Avatar.

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The Isotope is Five -- Big congratulations to James Sime and the gang at Isotope, celebrating their fifth anniversary today. James is one of a handful of comics retailers working to (you guessed it) Push Comix Forward within the direct market, and that he's made such progress over the course of the past half-decade is well worth celebrating. Here's to five -- or fifty! -- more, James!

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Monday, May 29, 2006

 
Pekar and Piskor's Macedonia -- The recent Ballantine release of Harvey Pekar and Gary Dumm's American Splendor: Ego and Hubris (which Chris Allen nicely describes here) is one of the best graphic novels of the year so far, and a refreshing palliative in the wake of the somewhat disappointing The Quitter. It chronicles the life of cranky, brilliant iconoclast Michael Malice and is a shocking, addictive profile. Malice's quick mind and Ayn Rand-informed philosophies might make him an aggravating carpool partner, but Pekar and Dumm's depiction of his life story is nearly impossible to put down once you start reading it.

Pekar -- one of the Founding Fathers of autobiographical comics -- is next teaming up with artist Ed Piskor for a project titled Macedonia. From the preview I've seen, it looks to skew much closer to the delightful Ego and Hubris territory than to The Quitter. Piskor tells me the book is about a "girl [named] Heather Roberson [that he met] while he was promoting the [American Splendor] movie. Heather's family owns a theatre and she found herself in a conversation with Pekar talking about her college career. She studies peace and conflict studies at UC Berkeley and kept getting into debates with professors who explained to her that war is inevitable but she wasn't satisfied with their examples. She kept pointing out Macedonia in her arguments which a recipe for disaster with all of the different and disenfranchised ethnic groups trying to gain some basic and political status. She ended up going to the balkans to prepare her thesis and she took very detailed notes for Harvey to weave her story in comic book form."

You can view a generous selection of Macedonia preview pages at Piskor's website.

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Sunday, May 28, 2006

 
Alex Toth -- As you may know by now, Alex Toth has died.



The image above represents not only one of my very favourite images of superheroes created in my lifetime, but one of the key images of my childhood. But back then it looked like this:



Either way it's a wonderful piece of art, but I do prefer to see the top version, with its unaltered Superman (I guess having him look more like an Alex Toth cartoon than the Curt Swan model that was standard at the time was considered too much of a change by the editors back then).

I just want to say thank you to one of the artists who made my childhood a joy, and who, in my adult years, I have come to realize is as vital and important a part of comics history as Jack Kirby, Bernard Krigstein, Gil Kane or Robert Crumb.

My deepest condolences to Alex Toth's family and friends.

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