Lucy Knisley At Fantagraphics

Fantagraphics are one of those indie publishers who continue to release surprising comics from around the globe, as well as give gorgeous presentations to comics from decades ago. The last such delight I read from the publisher was Young Romance, a wonderful collection of classic love stories from legendary creators Joe Simon and Jack Kirby (the pair who created Captain America BTW).

I always look forward to checking out their wares each month in the Previews comics catalogue for something new. Besides works from respected creators such as Peter Bagge, Daniel Clowes and Carl Barks, they also bring to English speaking shores  award winning, critic loving sequential art stories from countries we don’t normally associate with comics. Below is a press release about two new graphic novels from writer/artist Lucy Knisley, and published by Fantagraphics. I must confess that I haven’t read anything of hers, but I’m aware of her last OGN, Relish from First Second Books and you can find out more about Knisley at her website.

Lucy Knisley An Age of License

Fantagraphics Books is excited to announce the acquisition of two new comics travel memoirs by acclaimed cartoonist Lucy Knisley. Fall 2014 brings An Age of License, which recounts Knisley’s charming and romantic adventures across Europe on a quest to discover what is truly important in life, find love along the way. Displacement is a travelogue about taking her elderly grandparents on a cruise, and pondering the meaning of life, while trying to hold her family together. The deal was brokered by Holly Bemiss at The Susan Rabiner Literary Agency.

New York Times Best Selling cartoonist Knisley garnered fame from her two previous graphic novels Relish and French Milk. She is also well known for her ongoing web comic, Stop Paying Attention, the latest of which is “A Light That Never Goes Out.” Knisley’s greatest strength lays in her keen ability to tell her story to both young adult and mature readers.

“I’m really excited to finally be working with Fantagraphics, which I’ve admired for years,” Knisley explains. “These books are an exploration of youth and freedom, versus responsibility and family, and I’m so glad Fantagraphics is the company to help me tell these stories.”

Much like the HBO series Girls, Knisley speaks to a generation of young women who are fiercely independent and yearn for adventure. The Eat, Pray, Love for the “social media” generation, An Age of License is a series of illustrated snapshots of a life full of cute cats, fancy food, and exotic travel.

AN AGE OF LICENSE
A Travelogue by Lucy Knisley
Fall 2014 • Paperback
208 pages • Black & white with some color
ISBN: 978-1-60699-760-8

DISPLACEMENT
A Travel Memoir by Lucy Knisley
Summer 2015 • Paperback
128 pages • Black & white with some color

Extra Sequential Podcast #75-Young Romance Review

46 mins. Legendary creators Joe Simon and Jack Kirby effectively created the romance comics genre which was surprisingly dominant during the 1940s and 50s. We look at Fantagraphics’ entertaining new collection of some of their work. Also,  the awesomeness of The Golden Girls. Yes, you heard me.

LISTEN TO IT HERE

DOWNLOAD IT HERE

GET IT ON iTUNES HERE

You can email us at kris (at)extrasequential(dot)com and befriend us on the NEW ES Facebook page.

2: 40 NEWS

SOPA bill

Dc Comics cancellations and new titles

New DC Comics logo

David Wohl resigns as Radical EiC

CW orders Green Arrow TV pilot

12:44 YOUNG ROMANCE FEATURE REVIEW

We focus on Young Romance, Fantagraphics’ excellent collection of 21 romance comics from Simon and Kirby from the 1940s and 50s. We discuss this unique era in the history of comics, the roles of men and women at the time, the very entertaining and surprising nature of the mature storytelling, the pre and post Comics Code stories, and the extras of this book, including notes on the time consuming restoration and the labour of love behind this project. Highly recommended for comics history enthusiasts and those who appreciate dramatic stories.

Read the short stories Fraulein Sweetheart, and Shame right here for free.

Fantagraphics Sale

Until December 30, quality indie publisher Fantagraphics are having a sale on about 100 items, with at least a 40% discount.

Check it out here.

Fantagraphics Does Manga

Press release below regarding even more diversity from the fine folks at Fantagraphics.

Here Comes The Son

Fantagraphics Starts A Manga Line

After years of development, Fantagraphics is unveiling a new line of manga. Kicking things off in September 2010 is a collection of short stories from the mother of shōjo (young girl) manga, Moto Hagio. Next, is a multi-volume series from the GLBT manga-ka Shimura Takako. Each book will be released in hardcover form, keeping the original “right to left” manga style for a deluxe, yet authentic reading experience.

The first book, entitled Drunken Dream, is a collection of short stories by Hagio falling into multiple genres created between 1971-2007. This tome travels through several of Hagio’s most revolutionary and poignant tales that span over the years of her lush career.

In December 2010, comes one of the defining transgendered-centric manga, Wandering Son. Shimura Takako’s ongoing series follows two young friends, Shuichi and Yoshino.  These 5th graders struggle with only not puberty, but also severe identity issues; Shichi is a boy who wants to be a girl, and Yoshino is a girl who wants to be a boy. The two find solace in their mutual confusion and help each other cope with their gender frustration while embarking on the complicated journey of growing up.

To celebrate the launch of the new Fantagraphics manga, Moto Hagio is making her first ever visit to The United States to attend Comic-Con International 2010 as a special guest. More details on a speaking event and panel at The Con will be available soon.

Moto Hagio spearheaded the rebellious shōjo in the 1970’s.  She, along with a few other women, formed an artist collective called the “Magnificent 24.”  Influenced by radical youth culture of the 60’s, American and British rock ‘n’ roll, and European cinema, these women pioneered shōjo and helped develop the style that so most manga-ka emulated today. Winner of the Shogakukan Manga Award, Seiun Award, Osamu Tezuka Cultural Prize, Nihon SF Taisho Award and many others, Hagio has earned respect as a Japanese artist superstar and won the hearts of manga fans for the last 40 years.

Shimura Takako is a female manga creator living in Tokyo. Her focus on GLBT issues places her work in a space that’s rocked out by The Gossip and on par with Alison Bechdel. Several of Takako books have been honored with recommendations from the prestigious Japan Media Arts Festival.

Stephen Dixon At Fantagraphics

Time to get literary. Press release below about indie comics publisher Fantagraphics and their publication in May next year of author Stephen Dixon’s short stories. I can’t say I’ve heard of Dixon, but he seems to be well admired. Details below.

FANTAGRAPHICS BOOKS ANNOUNCES THE ACQUISITION OF STEPHEN DIXON’S WHAT IS ALL THIS?, A COLLECTION OF MODERN FICTION

Fantagraphics Books is proud to announce the acquisition of What Is All This?, a 900-page collection of previously uncollected short fiction by two-time National Book Award Nominee (1991, 1995) Stephen Dixon. The collection will be published in May, 2010 and mark the third entry in Fantagraphics burgeoning line of literary fiction, following Alexander Theroux’s Laura Warholic (2007) and Monte Schulz’s This Side of Jordan (2009). Along with Theroux, Dixon is the second National Book Award nominated-author to publish new fiction through Fantagraphics.

“Stephen Dixon is one of the great secret masters — too secret. I return again and again to his stories for writerly inspiration, moral support and comic relief at moments of personal misery, and, several times, in a spirit of outright plagiaristic necessity: borrowing a jumpstart from a few lines of Dixon has been a real problem-solver in my own short fiction. Please read him, you.” — Jonathan Lethem

Dixon is one of the most acclaimed authors of short stories in the history of American letters. He has published previously through acclaimed independent literary presses like McSweeney’s and Melville House, as well as corporate houses like Henry Holt. His work, characterized by mordant humor and a frank attention to human sexuality, has earned him a Guggenheim Fellowship, the American Academy Institute of Arts and Letters Prize for Fiction, the O. Henry Award, and the Pushcart Prize. Fantagraphics Books is proud to present his latest volume of short stories, a massive collection of vintage Dixon, eschewing the modernism and quasi-autobiography of his I-trilogy and instead treating readers to a pared-down, crystalline style more reminiscent of Hemingway.

“Dixon is one of the few writers whose new work I will put everything aside to read, which is to say he is in the company of Alice Munro, Lorrie Moore, and Lydia Davis…. Put aside whatever you’re reading, and read him.” — J. Robert Lennon

“This is our third book of prose fiction —after Alex Theroux’s Laura Warholic and Monte Schulz’s This Side of Jordan— and readers may notice that the common denominator among these books is that language itself serves as the animating literary force,” says acquiring editor and Fantagraphics co-publisher Gary Groth. “Dixon’s finely chiseled sentences cut to the quick of people’s lives. None of these stories have been collected in any book; they have appeared in a wide variety of literary journals over almost 40 years and Dixon has entirely rewritten all of them. Dixon admirers will be cheered to learn that these stories comprise a wholly original work.”

Centrally concerning himself with the American condition, Dixon explores in What Is All This? obsessions of body image, the increasingly polarized political landscape, sex —in all its incarnations— and the gloriously pointless minutiae of modern life, from bus rides to tying shoelaces. Using the canvas of his native New York (with one significant exception that affords Dixon the opportunity to create a furiously political fable) he astutely captures the edgy madness that infects the city through the neuroses of his narrators with a style that owes as much to Neo-Reaist cinema as it does to modern literature. What Is All This? will be published in hardcover, designed by Fantagraphics award-winning Art Director Jacob Covey. “Stephen Dixon is one of the few writers who completely challenged, then changed how I think about writing and reading,” says Covey. “He was the first writer I recognized as making Art that was as viscerally relevant as painting or music. Designing a book for someone who was so formative to me is one of the rarest and most intimidating opportunities I can imagine.”

“I have read a lot of Dixon’s writing. If I didn’t like his writing I would not have read so many things of his.” — Tao Lin

Stephen Dixon was born in 1936 in New York City. He graduated from the City College of New York in 1958 and is a former faculty member of Johns Hopkins University. In his early 20s, he worked as a journalist in radio, interviewing such monumental figures as John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, and Nikita Khrushchev. His witty, keenly observed narratives and sharply hewn prose have appeared in every major market magazine from Harper’s to Playboy and have earned him two National Book Award nominations —for his novels Frog and Interstate. He still hammers out his fiction on a vintage typewriter.

Abstract Comics: The Anthology Review

Abstract Comics CoverAbstract Comics: The Anthology is an impressive collection of old and new work with unique pages covering exactly what the title says. Fantagraphics’ bold book covers the years from 1967 to the present, with a selection of abstract comics from over 40 artists.

Now I think I’m a pretty open comics reader. Having primarily grown up on superheroes however, it’s only been the last 5 years that I’ve expanded my reading habits to include indie titles. It was Craig Thompson’s masterwork, Blankets that woke me up to the world beyond spandex and ever since then I’ve pretty much bought an indie title every week.

Abstract comics is a foreign concept to me though. I’m surprised that I’ve never thought of the genre before. It makes complete sense and after pouring through this hardcover from Fantagraphics I have a greater understanding and appreciation for the form. This intriguing 208 page tome includes some of the best work from pioneers in the field, as well as new work created for the anthology by artists including James Kochalka.

The introduction of the book is the only piece with words strung together that actually form an obviously coherent thought. Andrei Molotiu is the editor of Abstract Comics, and quite an authority on the subject. His work as an artist is reflected here and his introductory summary of what abstract comics actually are, as opposed to the use of the word in other art forms, is insightful. Even this obligatory introduction is treated with a loose abstract veneer, with plain text comprising the bottom half of each page, while above it sits the same words through the lens of simple shapes, which reminded me of the Kryptonese language. Yes, even with abstract comics, I can’t help but see things through my fanboy glasses. (There’s also a look at the history of abstract comics here). Molotiu defines the term thusly;

abstract comics can be defined as sequential art consisting exclusively of abstract imagery, and indeed most of the pieces in this volume fit that definition squarely. But the definition should be expanded somewhat, to include those comics that contain some representational elements, as long as those elements do not cohere into a narrative or even into a unified narrative space.

Whew. It’s the kind of talk that gets art students all sweaty. His 8 page introduction is littered with great work as he shows us the history of abstract comics, with examples of a bunch of artists unfamiliar to me to those who I didn’t expect to see, such as Wassily Kandinsky, Willem de Kooning, Winsor McCay and Steve Ditko.

Abstract Comics Intro DetailThings kick off with a great piece from 1967 by R. Crumb, as originally seen in Zap #1. As you’d expect, it’s only 3 pages, but packs a lot of zest, with rounded figures, cheeky expressions and wild imagery. For the next 200 plus pages I was bombarded (in a good way) with every form and technique imaginable. I never knew what each turn of the page would bring. Black and white, pencil sketches,  colour paintings and more – it’s all accounted for. Most of the works are only 3 or 4 pages long, with little or no text and some semblance of structured panels. I found myself treating the book like a portable art gallery as I let the images wash over me and tried to grasp their meaning. With close looks, there are stories of sorts to be told here, but as Molotiu mentions in the intro, abstract comics don’t have a narrative. I couldn’t help myself though and on some occasions examined the shapes in an attempt to form one. However, like all art the point is the enjoyment of the work first and foremost, rather than a desperation to cram it through out structured reasoning.

getsiv-6Molotiu’s work, The Cave was definitely a “wow” moment for me with its bold colours and gem like qualities, as was Andres Pearson’s work, with its swirling organic structures. Through some pages I could see how the panels, or the shapes within those panels, related to each other, which gave clarity to Molotiu’s introductory definition as to why this is different from abstract work done in other fields, such as cinema. James Kochalka’s (American Elf) work is exuberant and playful, as is Mike Getsiv’s. Blaise Larmee’s I Would Like To Live There is simple yet elegant while Life, Interwoven by Alexey Sokolin is 6 pages of increasing fury.

It’s hard to describe the experience of reading this anthology, but it must have been that much harder to choose the artists whose work would be shown here, especially considering this is the first book of its kind and it covers 4 decades. Book designer Jacob Covey must also be mentioned as there’s an undeniable sense of purpose that holds these pages together, from the cover to artists’ credits to last few pages. It’s subtle which allows the abstract comics to own the spotlight.

The book concludes with handy artist biographies for those that would like to discover more about them, and there’s also a useful accompanying blog which features work from the anthology and elsewhere.

I’ll admit that it was sheer curiosity that made me read this, and after enjoying its diverse offerings it brought me back to my art school days when I was exposed to a wide array of artists. It’s obviously a difficult book to review as well, especially as there’s no Good Guy A punches Bad Guy B action, but it was a treat for my often superhero consuming eyes. This is a book for readers who like fine art or those who would like to expand their sequential art experiences. A hearty slap on the back for Fantagraphics for choosing to create this marvelous example of a widely unknown artistic expression.

Abstract Comcis Preview 1

Abstract Comics Preview 2

Abstract Comics Preview 3

Abstract Anthology

Indie publisher Fantagraphics do good work. On June 29  a rather unique 208 page anthology, all centred on abstract comics is released, edited by Andrei Molotiu. I had no idea such a genre even existed in comics, and now I must say I’m intrigued. There’s an interview with Andrei here. He’s quite an authority and artist, on non-narrative abstract comics apparently. There’s also a blog from the contributors, who range from newbies to oldies. Cool. Not for everyone, certainly, but this kind of artistic expression should be welcomed in sequential art.

AbstractComics_Cover

ABSTRACT_IntroPagesDETAIL

The Unclothed Man

Don’t be scared off by that title. Writer/artist Dash Shaw’s breakthrough book was last year’s  Bottomless Belly Button and now he’s teaming up with IFC (the Independent Film Channel) for his latest project. Press release and funky art below.

Five -Episode Series will Premiere Exclusively on IFC.com in Conjunction with Fantagraphics Books Release in November 2009

shawifcteaser1THE UNCLOTHED MAN IN THE 35th CENTURY A.D., by DASH SHAW, will be promoted at the 2009 Book Expo America in New York City, May 29-31, with an appearance by the author on Friday, May 29, at 1:00PM at the Fantagraphics Booth and 4:00PM in the Autographing Area.

IFC.com announced today that it will premiere an original animated web series based on graphic novelist and comic book artist Dash Shaw’s latest book The Unclothed Man in the 35th Century A.D., set for release mid-November, 2009 with the web series following. Shaw’s animation has been widely praised for its eclectic style, innovative design and emotional depth.

Each short episode of this five-part web series chronicles Rebel X-6, a man who works for a well-funded anti-droid organization. The fifth episode will provide behind-the-scenes footage of the making of the series. The premiere on IFC.com marks Dash Shaw’s first animated series and will be based on a story line he has developed for several years.  Seattle’s Fantagraphics Books is set to publish a book by the same name and characters.
shawifcteaser2
“Dash Shaw is a known entity in the comic book realm with a cult following.  We’re excited to bring him, his art and his fans to IFC.com, a platform that recognizes and broadens the reach of up-and-coming, independent content makers,” said Craig Parks, vice president of digital media at IFC. “Shaw’s work on IFC.com will offer a fresh and completely unique take on the animation genre; the type of approach that defines our brand.”
The series features an animated hero, Rebel X-6, and his quest to bring out change in the 35th century A.D.. Rebel X-6 works for an anti-droid organization that opposes the use of droids in all sectors of modern society.  An artist guild that opposes the use of droids in art class hires Rebel X-6. They believe living people should model for life drawings.  Rebel X-6’s assignment is to enter Art School 46 posing as “Model-Droid #343.”  Model droids appear life-like but do not laugh, cry, swear or exhibit other human shortcomings.  His mission is to subvert the school’s ban on drawings of real humans by tricking the students into drawing him.

Fantagraphics Goes To Jordan

Press release below regarding a new book from the son of Peanuts creator, Charles M. Schulz, which is only the second novel to be released from indie comics publisher, Fantagraphics. The book, entitled, This Side of Jordan will be unveiled at the 2009 Book Expo America in New York on May 29-31.

THISSIDEOFJORDANThis September, Fantagraphics Books is proud to publish This Side of Jordan, by Monte Schulz, only the second original prose novel (following 2007’s Laura Warholic by Alexander Theroux) in the company’s 33-year history.

This Side of Jordan is a tapestry of American life in the summer before the economic crash of 1929, and a quintessential novel of the rural Midwest offered unexpectedly as a crime thriller. Full of American landscapes and totems, images and notions, foibles and fables, beasts and the blessed, it follows the experiences of 19-year-old tubercular farm boy Alvin Pendergast. The novel begins with an ill-fated dance marathon and a chance encounter with a slick con artist and gangster named Chester Burke. Fearing relapse of his consumption and a return to the sanitarium that had already stolen a year of his life, Alvin imprudently follows Chester across the Mississippi River only to enter a vortex of criminal violence and deceit.

With Alvin in tow, Chester’s insouciant disregard for life serves him well during a series of bank robberies and senseless murders, the sociopathic gangster assuming the role of a dark angel on Judgment Day, cleansing the scrolls of those whose sad fortune draws them across his path. Too ill to flee, too morally weak to object, Alvin resigns himself to what seems like certain doom. Fortunately, Alvin finds another companion on the road, a lonely, eccentric, and grandiloquent dwarf named Rascal, whose own infirmity binds their destinies together. Eventually, the young farm boy must make a decision: stick with Chester, who will surely kill him at the slightest hint of betrayal, or muster the courage to stake his life on faith in Rascal’s clever plan to save them both.

MonteSchulzMonte Schulz is the son of Charles M. Schulz, creator of Peanuts, and in This Side of Jordan one of his ambitions was to recreate the time of his mother’s and father’s Jazz Age childhood, when America was making the irresistible transition from rural to urban life.

“When I was in my early twenties, and Dad saw that I was developing an interest in writing, he showed me some of the beautiful passages of Thomas Wolfe and John Steinbeck, and lent me his copies of Complete Poems by Carl Sandburg and Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology, and Joan Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem. He told me the writer’s gift is to be able to express for people certain ideas and emotions they cannot express for themselves,” says Schulz.

Told in the voice of a lost generation hurtling toward the Great Depression, This Side of Jordan evokes crowded Main Streets and tourist camps, miles of cornfields, rural churches and musty parlors, with the momentum of a freight train, but delivered in the seductive, rhythmic tradition of Southern lyricism reminiscent of Flannery O’Connor and Truman Capote.

Fantagraphics publisher Gary Groth said he was leery when Schulz asked him to read the novel “because, after all, how does the publisher of The Complete Peanuts reject a novel by Charles Schulz’s son?” After reading it, however, he was “bowled over by the beauty of the prose and Monte’s command over every aspect of the form. It isn’t hyperbolic to say that Monte is as good a writer as his father is a cartoonist. That’s why we wanted to publish it.”

This Side of Jordan is Schulz’s second novel. His first, Down by the River, was published by Viking in 1991. Library Journal raved that it compared to Stand by Me and Twin Peaks, and seemed “ready-made for Hollywood.” He spent ten years writing Crossing Eden, from which This Side Of Jordan is drawn as the first of three interconnected novels; the second and third, Fields of Eden and The Big Town, will be published in 2010 and 2011. This Side of Jordan will be published as a jacketed hardcover this September by Fantagraphics Books, with a painted cover by noted cartoonist Al Columbia. Schulz will make his first public appearance promoting the novel at the 2009 Book Expo America, signing galleys on Saturday, May 30, at 2:30PM in the convention’s autographing area. A West Coast tour will follow in the Fall (dates and locations t.b.a.). Schulz received his M.A. in American Studies from the University of California at Santa Barbara. He lives in Northern California.

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