Posts tagged Books

Want more like this? Try searching the Archives for Books.


Permalink

nobrowpress:

It’s here! Destination X by johnmartz out now! A sci-fi parable about obsession and singlemindedness. It’s debuting at TCAF and available exclusively now from

I’m going to take the opportunity to toot my horn, and spread the news about my new book from Nobrow. So: hey, check out my new book from Nobrow! It’s called Destination X. It has rocketships and cryo-chambers and aliens and you should buy a copy or two!

It debuts at TCAF in May, and will hit stores in June, but if you’re impatient you can order it directly from Nobrow this very instant.

Permalink

Barrel of Monkeys

image

Barrel of Monkeys is the first book from new publisher Rebus Books, and as far as I know the first wide English publication of work by the team of Florent Ruppert and Jérôme Mulot.

What to say about this book? I did not expect to like it nearly as much as I did. It seemed esoteric and vaguely arch when I first flipped through it, although maybe—as an uneducated person—that’s just me being mistrustful of anything/everything that seems smarter than I am. And the book was esoteric, and more than vaguely arch. It was weird and strange and profane and gross and occasionally shocking and definitely one of the best comics I’ve read in the last year. It’s a human book; it’s a book about human beings and how stupid and crude and terrible we are, and it’s hilarious.

image

Barrel of Monkeys is drawn by both Ruppert and Mulot together in, according to the back cover, “a shared visual style.” It’s a little bit like a gestural, scratchy version of a clear-line style: there’s just enough information there for your mind to latch onto and follow, but little enough that you are forced to continually work to apprehend what’s happening. In order to read the pages, you have to fully engage with them, and the book depends on this leaned-forward attention of the reader to deliver it’s short, quick, crystalline jabs in each story.

image

The effect is amplified and redoubled by the formal tricks Ruppert and Mulot use: from piling speech balloons all over a page so you can’t tell who’s speaking (or when) and so have to ferret it out for yourself, to more involved tricks. For instance the phenakistoscopes—complex circular images designed to rotate around a central axis in order to produce an animated effect. There are numerous phenakistoscopes throughout the book, each punctuating something happening within a story. When I came across them in reading the book, they seemed a little overwrought, more or less destroying the flow of the reading; which is not unusual for overtly formalist tools in comics. But following the suggestion of the book, you can see them animated here, and wow. Even days after reading the book, seeing the animations now (because I didn’t stop reading in order to watch animations on my phone (for once)), each of them really does add something, each one is a perfect beautiful little weird gem.

image

But why do it like that? Seeing a single flat drawing meant to be animated, in the context of a multi-page comics story, creates a weird, dissonant parallax. “What is this? Where does this go in the story, in the sequence, or in my brain?” There’s a lot of that in Barrel of Monkeys, and I’d be surprised if it weren’t fully intended. The drawings are beautiful and light and airy, but there’s only enough information, especially in the faces, for you to tell characters apart. Who they are is less important than what they’re doing, saying or thinking. They often seem like not much more than ciphers, banal in the extreme, acting out a series of clumsy rudenesses. The strange, often terrible actions of the people in these stories stands in stark contrast with their blurry forms and smeared personalities. Though it’s a black and white book, there’s very little actual black, in terms of a compositional tool that moves the eye around a page purposefully. Florent and Mulot seem determined to let you founder until they feel it’s time to drag you up.

image

I spent most of my time reading Barrel of Monkeys squinting, both figuratively and sometimes literally, to discern what was actually happening, and so was unprepared over and over again for how everything was wrapped up into a perfectly precise knot by the end. The story of the duel that happens to take place at an international meeting of sword swallowers by itself is worth the price of the entire book. I didn’t read the back until I was done, and Dash Shaw’s blurb says it perfectly:

“When I’d get Ruppert and Mulot’s books in French, I was perplexed by comics that seemed largely informed by theatre, Eadweard Muybridge and proto-animation. Now that I can read it, I’m delighted by how evil and mean-spirited the work is.”

I loved this book. And it’s a really great launch for Rebus Books, run by writer and critic Bill Kartalopoulos. Now the only problem is waiting for more Ruppert and Mulot in English.

112 pages
6.5 x 9.5” bw softcover
ISBN 978-0-615-62235-4
$19.95 | buy from publisher | buy via Amazon

Permalink

Oliver Jeffers, butcher, baker, picture book maker.

(Source: vimeo.com)

Permalink

Cartoonist Gabrielle Bell is doing watercolor portraits over Skype. They’re tiny and amazing, and $35 I think. This might be the best possible use for Skype, although the scientific research isn’t in yet.
More from Gabrielle at her site, and her new book The Voyeurs is available from Uncivilized Books, as well as all good bookstores. 

Cartoonist Gabrielle Bell is doing watercolor portraits over Skype. They’re tiny and amazing, and $35 I think. This might be the best possible use for Skype, although the scientific research isn’t in yet.

More from Gabrielle at her site, and her new book The Voyeurs is available from Uncivilized Books, as well as all good bookstores. 

Permalink

Lilli Carré: eyeworks

lillicarre:

image

I didn’t know cartoonist and illustrator Lilli Carré had a tumblr of just animations, but now I do, and so do you. Holy mackerel! I’m in the middle of finishing her new book Heads or Tails, after which I’ll write a review. Spoiler alert: it’s fantastic. 

(link via Maré Odomo’s on Twitter)

Permalink

A few more favourites of 2012

Every year I publish my list of favourites, and every year I always realize I’ve forgotten a few due to absent-mindedness or, more likely, my cluttered office. So here are a few more, which I’ll append to the original list:

Oily Comics

There’s something quite special about the unadorned, simple black-and-white mini-minicomics that show up every few weeks from Chuck Forsman’s subscription series, which offers comics from a number of cartoonists like Melissa Mendes, Michael DeForge, Max de Radiguès, and more. They’re small things, and short to read, so unlike the growing pile of unread books by my bedside, they are actually inviting rather than intimidating when it comes to reading them. And they’re cheap and disposable enough that they don’t feel like precious objects. They feel like little gifts when they come in the mail. It appears that subscription memberships are currently closed, but at the very least you can head over to the Oily Boutique and order the books a la carte for a buck a pop.

Distance Mover by Patrick Kyle

Patrick Kyle released the collected book of his comic series Black Mass this year, but for my money I’m much more excited by his latest series Distance Mover, which like Oily Comics, I’ve been getting in the mail every month as a subscription. Each little book is a risographed art object, and I enjoy seeing Patrick’s work grow more abstract and even further from the traditional norm than Black Mass which already eschewed panels in favour of a freeform fill-the-page-with-drawings method. Each issue in the mail comes with goodies like extra prints or zines. Subscriptions are likely closed as the series nears its end, but you can order books directly from Patrick’s site, and read the first three issues (in black and white) online.

Diary Comics #4 by Dustin Harbin

Dustin’s Diary Comics made the list in previous years when they weren’t even this good — the great thing with a project like this is being able to literally see the artist improve over time. This fourth issue comprises more of Dustin’s just-like-the-title-says diary comics, and his drawing chops remain as honed as ever, but it’s the multi-page story Boxes that is the real zinger here. In it Dustin reflects on the diary comics themselves, and how comics have affected his day-to-day perception of the world around him, for better or for worse. Yes, meta journal comics about drawing said comics aren’t anything new, but Dustin’s gifts for thoughtfulness and introspection make it a special thing, and a powerful unexpected product of having distilled his life into four panels, a page at a time, for the past few years. You can read Boxes online for free (full disclosure: I am featured in the story), and buy all of Dustin’s books and prints at his online store (which currently offers 35% off orders of $50 or more with the code DHARBMAS).

Nancy is Happy and Nancy Likes Christmas by Ernie Bushmiller

I knew my list didn’t feel right without any reprints of classic comic strips. Nancy seems to be a love-it-or-leave-it strip, and I am firmly in the Love It camp. Nancy is the granddaddy of the gag strip. Often surreal, and always impeccably drawn, there is nothing quite like it. D&Q got a head start in publishing John Stanley’s Nancy comic books, which are certainly fun, but these Bushmiller strips are the real deal — perfectly constructed comic strips with not a line or word wasted. It’s been said it’s harder to not read a Nancy strip than it is to read one, and for that alone these books are a virtual masterclass in cartooning.

Imagination Illustrated: The Jim Henson Journal

In a list of Great Cartoonists Who Weren’t Cartoonists, Jim Henson would top the list. Is there a better example of simple, contrasting character design than Bert and Ernie? Jim Henson famously kept a journal with simple one-line entries. It was a proto-Twitter account that, of course, is now a Twitter account. This book, Imagination Illustrated, compiles the most notable entries in chronological order and fills the pages with sketches, drawings, photographs, storyboards, and ephemera to create a scrapbook of the Muppet creator’s professional life, and is the perfect piece of nostalgia for a Muppet-loving child of the 80s like myself.

Permalink

Favourite Comics, Art Books, and More of 2012

It’s been a busy year, so this is by no means a comprehensive best of, but what follows is a few of my favourite books, games, and other art-related items from 2012.

As always, feel free to revisit my lists from 2011, 2010, 2009, and 2008.

Artograph LightPad lightbox

Two hardware purchases made a big difference in my workflow this year. First, I ditched my small, clunky box-shaped lightbox this year once I saw these super slim LED light pads that Michael Cho and Laura Park were both using. I splurged and got the largest 17x24 model, which takes up half my drafting table, but is flat enough to not ever be in the way, and large enough to accommodate most of the work I throw at it. For smaller desks or smaller budgets, it also comes in 12x17 and 12x9 models.

Ergotron LX LCD Arm

Secondly, I work on a Wacom Cintiq, but I like to draw while standing, so I was in the market for an LCD Arm this year. Every bit of my Google research seemed to lead to the Ergotron LX. The Cintiq is a little heavier than the LX’s stated maximum allowance, but there’s no noticeable strain on the arm, and the Cintiq moves freely and hangs solidly in the air. There’s a little wobble when using the Cintiq one-handed, but nothing prohibitive. Any wobble is made up for with the like-butter ease of turning and tilting the screen on a whim. Mounting the Cintiq to an adjustable arm is such an improvement on its overall ease of use that I think the Cintiq should come with one by default.

Moleskine Watercolour Notebooks

All of my local art and craft stores stock the ubiquitous Moleskine notebooks in their various incarnations, but none of them carry the harder-to-find (at least in my neck of the woods) watercolour books. Moleskine sketchbooks are very popular, but they don’t take watercolour or washes well, so discovering these watercolour Moleskines was a blessing. I’m not a watercolour paper connoisseur, but this paper is very nice, and is a joy to draw on even if you’re just using pencil or ink. Available in pocket-sized, large, A3, and A4.

Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon

Austin Kleon’s Tumblr may be the Internet’s greatest resource for writers and artists. On any given day it is overflowing with inspiration, wisdom, and straightforward advice for anyone who makes art of any kind. Steal Like an Artist (subtitled 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative) is the perfect companion book to the site, and neatly encapsulates Austin’s discoveries on creativity, art, and finding meaning in one’s work.

Abstract City by Christoph Niemann

It was inevitable that Christoph Niemann’s highly imaginative and creative visual blog Abstract City, for the New York Times, would find itself a home in the pages of a book. Niemann translates his everyday experiences into smartly-crafted visual gags and creative imagery that never fail to delight or make me think, “why didn’t I think of that?”. The book includes the best of the website, including I LEGO N.Y., Bio-Diversity, and Let it Dough!. And judging by how many new entries the blog has in its previous posts section as of this writing, I hope we can expect a second book.

Jinchalo by Matt Forsythe

From my original review:

Drawn’s own Matt Forsythe delivers the follow-up to his first book, Ojingogo. Jinchalo continues the wordless fairy tale adventures of Voguchi, and Matt has clearly stepped up his game in terms of his art and pantomime storytelling. It’s a little Alice in Wonderland, a little Jack in the Beanstalk, and a little Wizard of Oz, flavoured with Korean folktales. I love these books so much.

Botanicula

I’m not a hardcore gamer, and my gold standard for adventure games is 1987’s Space Quest II, so that should give you some context for where my tastes and experiences lie. Amanita Design’s Machinarium (2009) is just about as perfect as a game can get — everything from the visuals, the puzzles, the music, and the storytelling work together to form a perfectly realized, illustrated world that I have revisited a number of times. If there was a game made for me, Machinarium is it. Amanita’s follow-up, Botanicula does for plants, seeds, and twigs what Machinarium did for robots. It takes place in a cosmic, bioluminescent plant world, so the gameplay and puzzles are a little more abstract than the ones in Machinarium’s gritty mechanical city, but the games share a sense of humour and delight, and continue to make me wish that every adventure game was as rewarding to just look at it and soak in the experience of existing in these little worlds. You can play demos of both games for free on their websites.

By This You Shall Know Him by Jesse Jacobs

From Jesse Jacobs and Koyama Press, By This You Shall Know Him is a strange, funny, and beautifully crafted creation story filled with gods, aliens, humans and enough existential pondering to choke a carbon-based electrical chemical horse machine. Jesse’s Even the Giants made my list last year, as did another Jesse’s — Jesse Moynihan’s Forming, which makes a great companion book with its similarly funny take on the origins of life and morality.

Goliath by Tom Gauld

Cartoonist Tom Gauld takes on the biblical tale of David vs. Goliath from the giant’s point of view. From my original review:

Tom Gauld is one of my favourite cartoonists because of his ability to marry his dry wit with his perfectly reduced drawing style. Goliath is his first long-form graphic novel, but is a natural continuation of the work he’s done for the Guardian’s Saturday Review letters page, skewing art and literature with his refined stick-figures.

Virginia Wolf by Kyo Maclear and Isabelle Arsenault

Kyo Maclear and illustrator Isabelle Arsenault team up again after their picture book Spork, offering up another stunning-looking book, which also just won the Governor General’s Award for illustration in children’s literature. Isabelle is one of the most exciting illustrators working in picture books. Just look at her work! I loved their collaboration on Spork, but Virginia Wolf is a far greater punch in the gut — children’s books with grumpy characters getting over their bad moods are familiar territory, but Virginia Wolf (the title is a clue for grown-ups) dips into the realm of actual depression and mental illness in a deft and delicate way.

Everything Goes in the Air by Brian Biggs

Probably no review I can give this book will do it any justice when compared to this blog entry from Mr. Biggs in which he recounts the story of an interaction with a young fan. Go read it, and come back.

What Everything Goes On Land was to cars and trucks, so Everything Goes in the Air is to planes, balloons, and other sky-bound modes of transport. It’s loaded with packed, detail-rich scenes giving kids everything they wanted to know about air travel, and more. And like its predecessor it has hidden details and find-em games throughout making it an ideal rainy-day book or the perfect distraction for a child on his or her first flight. I can’t recommend the series enough, and I look forward to completing the trilogy next year with Everything Goes By Sea.

The Great Showdowns by Scott C. and Silhouettes from Popular Culture by Olly Moss

Two perfect little square books for fans of pop culture and movie art.

From my original review of Scott’s book:

Scott C offers up some of Hollywood’s greatest confrontations in the silly cheerful way that only Scott C can. I love Scott’s watercolour recreations of my favourite movies (a Back to the Future original hangs on my wall) so I’ve been looking forward to this book version of his popular Great Showdowns website.

And from my original review of Olly’s book:

Olly is the master of the a-ha moment — those deceptively simple tweaks to familiar images that make you wish you thought of them first. I first shared some of Olly’s work when he was still a student, so it’s great to see his rise to fame as a sought-after designer for movie posters.

Dockwood by Jon McNaught

From my original review:

Jon McNaught’s previous two books with Nobrow (Birchfield Close and Pebble Island) remain two of my favourite, perfect little books. I revisit both of them frequently and marvel at the attention to detail and the quiet, poetry of the cartooning inside.

Dockwood seems like a natural progression for McNaught’s comics — taking the slow-paced reflections of rural and suburban life from those first two books, and allowing them to fill up a large, 8x10 page. It’s hard to put it any better than Chris Ware who wrote, “Dockwood is Jon McNaught’s loveliest argument yet for the beauty of just simply being alive.”

Nobrow 7: Brave New World

Now that UK publisher Nobrow has expanded its eponymous illustration magazine to a comics-and-illustration double whammy starting with last year’s issue 6, it’s cemented itself as my most anticipated comics anthology out there. Issue 7 is themed Brave New World and goes straight to my heart with an oversized sampling of science fiction and futuristic works from a Who’s Who of comicdom’s new wave. In addition to Nobrow staples like Tom Gauld and Luke Pearson, this issue also gives us exciting new stories from the likes of Ethan Rilly, Michael DeForge, Jillian Tamaki, Joe Lambert, and Eleanor Davis, to name a few, and gorgeous illustrations from artists like Dadu Shin, Patrick Kyle, and Julianna Brion.

Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller by Joseph Lambert

Translating the experiences of the deaf and blind Helen Keller into comics would be a difficult task for most cartoonists. Joe Lambert, whose self-published comics often pair childhood angst with abstract fantasy, handles the task brilliantly. Joe’s formal playfulness brings a visually exciting twist to the historical biography genre, especially to a story in which the concepts of communicating words and images is so vital.

Barack Hussein Obama by Steven Weissman

Steven Weissman gas been posting his odd comic strip, named after and starring a Bizarro-Universe version of Barack Hussein Obama, on the What Things Do website and it quickly became one of my favourite comics online.

I direct you to Dustin Harbin’s review of the book, which does it more justice than I ever could:

Barack Hussein Obama is a challenging and idiosyncratic book that describes its subject from a great, absurd, and comic distance. It’s closer to the kind of associative resonance of poetry than what you would expect of a book called Barack Hussein Obama, released just weeks before [the real] Obama’s attempt at a second term in office. It has very little to do with actual reality, and weirdly seems more real than it has any right to be.

Obama’s re-election, if anything, hopefully means another four years of this strange and delightful oddity.

Heads or Tails by Lilli Carré

Lilli Carré is one of those cartoonists who has been putting out plenty of great work, but not always in small, shorter pieces, which can make it difficult to collect or find. She’s a master of short stories, so this collection is a welcome addition to my bookshelves. Rainbow Moment, a smartly-crafted story of nested memories all told in different colour palettes is the stand out work, and worth the price of admission alone. 50 Watts

Everything Together: Collected Stories by Sammy Harkham

Like the Lilli Carré book, this is a collection of shorter works published elsewhere throughout Sammy Harkham’s career. I have almost all this material in its original formats, but hidden throughout anthologies and floppy comics, it’s quite nice to have it accessible all in one package. It reprints the entirety of his book, Poor Sailor, but I think my favourite things here are the single-page offerings like Napoleon, in which the French emperor moonlights as a cartoonist between military battles.

The Art of Daniel Clowes: Modern Cartoonist

I went on a bit of Dan Clowes bender this year, dipping into his back catalogue, and then gorging myself on the collection of interviews in Daniel Clowes: Conversations, so this monograph of his work, spanning a career of twenty-five years came at just the right time for me to fully enjoy it. The book is structured around interviews and essays from a number of contributors, including Chris Ware and Chip Kidd, but the real treat is the unfiltered look at rare photographs, early drawings, preliminary sketches and, most excitingly, original artwork reproduced to show the paper texture, the pasted-on edits, the Zip-a-Tone shading film, and only the rarest instances of any Wite-Out to fix mistakes.

Photo by Julian Andrews, The Telegraph

Building Stories by Chris Ware

I’ll be honest; I haven’t had a chance to dig into this box of books yet (though I’ve read some of it in various other forms). Regardless, it’s rather difficult to not include anything new from Chris Ware in a year-end list, let alone something so ambitious and marvellous as a big box filled with fourteen books of varying size and format. My gift to myself this holiday season is to find the time to squirrel away in a cozy spot in my house and dig into these books and pamphlets, and then to head over to the Comics Journal which, upon Building Stories’s release, invited the essayists of The Comics of Chris Ware to revisit the themes of their essays in the context of this magnificent-looking box.

Turtie Needs Work by Steve Wolfhard

The best $3.00 you’ll ever spend. Here, have a taste.

SuperMutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki

Consistently, the greatest webcomic on the Internet, and one of my favourite things in any medium. SuperMutant Magic Academy is heartbreaking, funny, and smart. It’s the most devastating and hilarious philosophical comic strip next to Peanuts. As a bonus, it’s the only thing on this list you don’t need to spend any money on to enjoy.

UPDATE (11-30-12):

Every year I publish my list of favourites, and every year I always realize I’ve forgotten a few due to absent-mindedness or, more likely, my cluttered office. So here are a few more:

Oily Comics

There’s something quite special about the unadorned, simple black-and-white mini-minicomics that show up every few weeks from Chuck Forsman’s subscription series, which offers comics from a number of cartoonists like Melissa Mendes, Michael DeForge, Max de Radiguès, and more. They’re small things, and short to read, so unlike the growing pile of unread books by my bedside, they are actually inviting rather than intimidating when it comes to reading them. And they’re cheap and disposable enough that they don’t feel like precious objects. They feel like little gifts when they come in the mail. It appears that subscription memberships are currently closed, but at the very least you can head over to the Oily Boutique and order the books a la carte for a buck a pop.

Distance Mover by Patrick Kyle

Patrick Kyle released the collected book of his comic series Black Mass this year, but for my money I’m much more excited by his latest series Distance Mover, which like Oily Comics, I’ve been getting in the mail every month as a subscription. Each little book is a risographed art object, and I enjoy seeing Patrick’s work grow more abstract and even further from the traditional norm than Black Mass which already eschewed panels in favour of a freeform fill-the-page-with-drawings method. Each issue in the mail comes with goodies like extra prints or zines. Subscriptions are likely closed as the series nears its end, but you can order books directly from Patrick’s site, and read the first three issues (in black and white) online.

Diary Comics #4 by Dustin Harbin

Dustin’s Diary Comics made the list in previous years when they weren’t even this good — the great thing with a project like this is being able to literally see the artist improve over time. This fourth issue comprises more of Dustin’s just-like-the-title-says diary comics, and his drawing chops remain as honed as ever, but it’s the multi-page story Boxes that is the real zinger here. In it Dustin reflects on the diary comics themselves, and how comics have affected his day-to-day perception of the world around him, for better or for worse. Yes, meta journal comics about drawing said comics aren’t anything new, but Dustin’s gifts for thoughtfulness and introspection make it a special thing, and a powerful unexpected product of having distilled his life into four panels, a page at a time, for the past few years. You can read Boxes online for free (full disclosure: I am featured in the story), and buy all of Dustin’s books and prints at his online store (which currently offers 35% off orders of $50 or more with the code DHARBMAS).

Nancy is Happy and Nancy Likes Christmas by Ernie Bushmiller

I knew my list didn’t feel right without any reprints of classic comic strips. Nancy seems to be a love-it-or-leave-it strip, and I am firmly in the Love It camp. Nancy is the granddaddy of the gag strip. Often surreal, and always impeccably drawn, there is nothing quite like it. D&Q got a head start in publishing John Stanley’s Nancy comic books, which are certainly fun, but these Bushmiller strips are the real deal — perfectly constructed comic strips with not a line or word wasted. It’s been said it’s harder to not read a Nancy strip than it is to read one, and for that alone these books are a virtual masterclass in cartooning.

Imagination Illustrated: The Jim Henson Journal

In a list of Great Cartoonists Who Weren’t Cartoonists, Jim Henson would top the list. Is there a better example of simple, contrasting character design than Bert and Ernie? Jim Henson famously kept a journal with simple one-line entries. It was a proto-Twitter account that, of course, is now a Twitter account. This book, Imagination Illustrated, compiles the most notable entries in chronological order and fills the pages with sketches, drawings, photographs, storyboards, and ephemera to create a scrapbook of the Muppet creator’s professional life, and is the perfect piece of nostalgia for a Muppet-loving child of the 80s like myself.

Permalink

The Great Showdowns vs. Silhouettes from Popular Culture

Titan Books has just released two perfect little square books for fans of pop culture and movie art:

The Great Showdowns by Scott C

Scott C offers up some of Hollywood’s greatest confrontations in the silly cheerful way that only Scott C can. I love Scott’s watercolour recreations of my favourite movies (a Back to the Future original hangs on my wall) so I’ve been looking forward to this book version of his popular Great Showdowns website.

Silhouettes from Popular Culture by Olly Moss

Olly is the master of the a-ha moment — those deceptively simple tweaks to familiar images that make you wish you thought of them first. I first shared some of Olly’s work when he was still a student, so it’s great to see his rise to fame as a sought-after designer for movie posters.

A friend and I had great fun sitting down with both of these books and trying to identify the movies and characters on every single page.

Permalink

One of the first things I made sure to pick up at SPX this year was one of the few copies of Jon McNaught’s Dockwood that Nobrow brought with them.

Jon McNaught’s previous two books with Nobrow (Birchfield Close and  Pebble Island) remain two of my favourite, perfect little books. I revisit both of them frequently and marvel at the attention to detail and the quiet, poetry of the cartooning inside.

Dockwood seems like a natural progression for McNaught’s comics — taking the slow-paced reflections of rural and suburban life from those first two books, and allowing them to fill up a large, 8x10 page. It’s hard to put it any better than Chris Ware who wrote, “Dockwood is Jon McNaught’s loveliest argument yet for the beauty of just simply being alive.”

Dockwood is available for pre-order from Nobrow, who are giving away a screen-printed bookplate for the first 250 orders.

Permalink

Sam Hiti's stuff is always so uncompromising and awesome and now he's got a kids' book out - Waga’s Big Scare (Lerner Books). 

I’ve read the book - and it’s creepy and funny and it’s full of Hiti’s big bold brushstrokes and nightmarish monsters; I wish more kids’ books were like this.

Sam Hiti's stuff is always so uncompromising and awesome and now he's got a kids' book out - Waga’s Big Scare (Lerner Books).

I’ve read the book - and it’s creepy and funny and it’s full of Hiti’s big bold brushstrokes and nightmarish monsters; I wish more kids’ books were like this.

Permalink

A fantastic book trailer for Marion Deuchars’s Let’s Make Some Great Fingerprint Art, the sequel to her fantastic book Let’s Make Some Great Art.

(Source: vimeo.com)

Permalink

ISBN: 978-1-60699-623-2Available September 2012Diamond order code: JUN121131Order through FantagraphicsOrder through Amazon
BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA is a challenging and idiosyncratic book that describes its subject from a great, absurd, and comic distance. It’s closer to the kind of associative resonance of poetry than what you would expect of a book called BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA, released just weeks before [the real] Obama’s attempt at a second term in office. It has very little to do with actual reality, and weirdly seems more real than it has any right to be. 

In their original online iteration, these strips seemed like funny, weird non sequiturs, beginning not long after Obama’s election in 2009. Presented here, all together in untouched, “at-size” scans from the sketchbook Weissman drew them in, they seem less humorous and more like the slow aggregation of a large portrait, maybe not of the man, but of the time the man is living in. Or maybe closer to the truth—because let’s face it, I don’t know—is that it’s a portrait of what a person like Obama “means,” the intensity of the history and anger and hope and cynicism surrounding one man and his band of plucky lieutenants. Many of the strips repeat his name, “BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA,” either as a title or as punctuation. As the story gets weirder and weirder, that metronome clicks along: BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA.

Is BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA meant to be a metaphor for the first—maybe only?—term of a president who, pinned with the hopes and enmities of an entire nation, is in fact a regular human who can crumble under pressure? Or a metaphor for the time that man lives in, a gross time, a time where nothing means anything that can’t be stripped away and spun over and over into any direction needed? Because the Obama of BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA is a man who seems increasingly sad, confused; not only bowing under pressure but sinking. A man who talks to ghosts, who becomes a giant parakeet and flies with his two hip children to a desert island, where he regresses to egg state.
It could be all these things and more: the pages are an amalgam of Weissman’s gestural, affably abstracted cartooning style and layers and layers of Zip-A-Tone, the old adhesive tone used by mid-century illustrators and cartoonists to simulate tones and gradations. Weissman definitely doesn’t hide the lines either—you can see the artist’s hand all over the book, tucking bits of meaning everywhere, whether it’s tone, adhesive tape to block out the “panels”, colored lettering, or swashes of marker on top of everything. Everything is layered with potential multiple meanings. Even the cover blurbs are absurd and meta, consisting of out-of-context quotes from Hulk Hogan, George W. Bush, and this one from Fox News: “[Barack Hussein] Obama is okay…”

Nothing is real, nothing is straight ahead in this book. What Obama’s presidency “meant” at the beginning of his term is much different than whatever it is now; much more complex, much more “real,” and also very very surreal. BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA manages to double this weird descent from giddy hopefulness to present-day miasma. I loved reading it; I love Steve Weissman and his work, but more importantly I loved how challenging it was, both during the reading of it, and especially now, trying to describe it. I hope the reader leafing through it in that bookstore will find it as pleasantly challenging.
(a longer, more image heavy version of this review is on my site)

ISBN: 978-1-60699-623-2
Available September 2012
Diamond order code: JUN121131
Order through Fantagraphics
Order through Amazon

BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA is a challenging and idiosyncratic book that describes its subject from a great, absurd, and comic distance. It’s closer to the kind of associative resonance of poetry than what you would expect of a book called BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA, released just weeks before [the real] Obama’s attempt at a second term in office. It has very little to do with actual reality, and weirdly seems more real than it has any right to be. 

In their original online iteration, these strips seemed like funny, weird non sequiturs, beginning not long after Obama’s election in 2009. Presented here, all together in untouched, “at-size” scans from the sketchbook Weissman drew them in, they seem less humorous and more like the slow aggregation of a large portrait, maybe not of the man, but of the time the man is living in. Or maybe closer to the truth—because let’s face it, I don’t know—is that it’s a portrait of what a person like Obama “means,” the intensity of the history and anger and hope and cynicism surrounding one man and his band of plucky lieutenants. Many of the strips repeat his name, “BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA,” either as a title or as punctuation. As the story gets weirder and weirder, that metronome clicks along: BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA.

Is BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA meant to be a metaphor for the first—maybe only?—term of a president who, pinned with the hopes and enmities of an entire nation, is in fact a regular human who can crumble under pressure? Or a metaphor for the time that man lives in, a gross time, a time where nothing means anything that can’t be stripped away and spun over and over into any direction needed? Because the Obama of BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA is a man who seems increasingly sad, confused; not only bowing under pressure but sinking. A man who talks to ghosts, who becomes a giant parakeet and flies with his two hip children to a desert island, where he regresses to egg state.

It could be all these things and more: the pages are an amalgam of Weissman’s gestural, affably abstracted cartooning style and layers and layers of Zip-A-Tone, the old adhesive tone used by mid-century illustrators and cartoonists to simulate tones and gradations. Weissman definitely doesn’t hide the lines either—you can see the artist’s hand all over the book, tucking bits of meaning everywhere, whether it’s tone, adhesive tape to block out the “panels”, colored lettering, or swashes of marker on top of everything. Everything is layered with potential multiple meanings. Even the cover blurbs are absurd and meta, consisting of out-of-context quotes from Hulk Hogan, George W. Bush, and this one from Fox News: “[Barack Hussein] Obama is okay…”

Nothing is real, nothing is straight ahead in this book. What Obama’s presidency “meant” at the beginning of his term is much different than whatever it is now; much more complex, much more “real,” and also very very surreal. BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA manages to double this weird descent from giddy hopefulness to present-day miasma. I loved reading it; I love Steve Weissman and his work, but more importantly I loved how challenging it was, both during the reading of it, and especially now, trying to describe it. I hope the reader leafing through it in that bookstore will find it as pleasantly challenging.

(a longer, more image heavy version of this review is on my site)

Permalink

Unnamed artist illustrating book-related concepts in 3D paper sculptures

Somebody has been leaving rather elaborate and well thought out paper sculptures at Scottish libraries. Whatever their intended purpose might be, they rather expand the vocabulary of illustration, to my mind. And they are apparently intent on anonymity. In this one, cavalry pours down out of a movie screen into the audience.

Permalink

adhousebooks:

Notebook by Jim Rugg.  Published by AdHouse Books
“Last year I started drawing again. For the first time in 15 years, I drew for reasons other than work. I make drawings out of the trash culture that I grew up with – superhero comic books, cartoons, straight-to-video genre movies, pro wrestling, and MTV. Like most marketing, that escapist fare usually promised more than it delivered. But those lurid video covers and melodramatic comic books fueled my imagination. As a result, the tone of my work vacillates between celebration and satire.” – Jim Rugg on Notebook
details:  48 4C pages 8 ” x 10.5 ” Spiral Bound $30 US funds ISBN 978-1-935233-20-6 Shipping June 2012 AdHouse Books Exclusive Limited Edition (300)

I saw this in the flesh at HeroesCon, and it was amazing. What you might be missing here is that it looks exactly like a spiral bound notebook that someone’s idly drawn on the cover of during class. Then inside are a TON of ballpoint-pen drawings by Jim Rugg, many from his recent gallery show. Kudos not only to Jim, but to Chris Pitzer, one of the most undersung publishers, in terms of technical prowess and quiet attention to detail, in comics. 

adhousebooks:

Notebook
by Jim Rugg.
Published by AdHouse Books

“Last year I started drawing again. For the first time in 15 years, I drew for reasons other than work. I make drawings out of the trash culture that I grew up with – superhero comic books, cartoons, straight-to-video genre movies, pro wrestling, and MTV. Like most marketing, that escapist fare usually promised more than it delivered. But those lurid video covers and melodramatic comic books fueled my imagination. As a result, the tone of my work vacillates between celebration and satire.” – Jim Rugg on Notebook

details:
48 4C pages
8 ” x 10.5 ” Spiral Bound
$30 US funds
ISBN 978-1-935233-20-6
Shipping June 2012
AdHouse Books Exclusive Limited Edition (300)

I saw this in the flesh at HeroesCon, and it was amazing. What you might be missing here is that it looks exactly like a spiral bound notebook that someone’s idly drawn on the cover of during class. Then inside are a TON of ballpoint-pen drawings by Jim Rugg, many from his recent gallery show. Kudos not only to Jim, but to Chris Pitzer, one of the most undersung publishers, in terms of technical prowess and quiet attention to detail, in comics. 

(via neo-rama)

Permalink

Ed Piskor's book Wizzywig, about the early days of phone phreaking, comes out in comics shops this week (or so, depending on where you are). Ed originally self-published the story in three books, which sold a kind of dizzying amount for an “alternative” comic, thanks in part to a lot of attention from Boing Boing—whose audience is probably a perfect one for a story about pre-Internet social network history. 
What a lot of people might not realize is the new Top Shelf edition, collecting all three original books into one volume, was largely rewritten and redrawn from the originals. Ed re-serialized the new version as a webcomic, and that’s what’s being re-published now. Beyond the fact of it being a good book, this weird journey through various publication models is almost as interesting as the story itself, which after all features a main character who just sort of makes up his own angle on things during a time of technological flux. 
Wizzywig will be available through better comics shops everywhere (if it isn’t already), as well as through Top Shelf in both print and digital editions. And of course on Amazon, if that’s how you roll. 

Ed Piskor's book Wizzywig, about the early days of phone phreaking, comes out in comics shops this week (or so, depending on where you are). Ed originally self-published the story in three books, which sold a kind of dizzying amount for an “alternative” comic, thanks in part to a lot of attention from Boing Boing—whose audience is probably a perfect one for a story about pre-Internet social network history. 

What a lot of people might not realize is the new Top Shelf edition, collecting all three original books into one volume, was largely rewritten and redrawn from the originals. Ed re-serialized the new version as a webcomic, and that’s what’s being re-published now. Beyond the fact of it being a good book, this weird journey through various publication models is almost as interesting as the story itself, which after all features a main character who just sort of makes up his own angle on things during a time of technological flux. 

Wizzywig will be available through better comics shops everywhere (if it isn’t already), as well as through Top Shelf in both print and digital editions. And of course on Amazon, if that’s how you roll. 

1 2 3 4 5 Older