A Fantagraphics Summer

by Jeff

PR August 31, 2007: As summer winds to a close, what better time to get you caught up on the season’s releases from Fantagraphics Books? It’s been a summer of momentous debuts, welcome returns, and unexpected sellouts. Don’t miss the hotly-anticipated new issues of our most popular comics and magazines, gorgeous new collections of classic cartoons and illustration, our mammoth Milton Caniff biography, and new collections and graphic novels from Gilbert Hernandez, Johnny Ryan, and Steven Weissman!

Raisin Pie #5 by Rick Altergott & Ariel Bordeaux
32-page B&W comic book $3.50

Ariel Bordeaux’s “Maple Valley Public Library” and “Queen of the Geeks” are both concluded, as Ariel bids a fond farewell to Raisin Pie. Rick Altergott continues with “Blessed Be” episode 5, wherein Doofus is drawn into the dangerous and deadly plot involving his missing friend, Henry Hotchkiss and a young woman’s missing boyfriend. As these threads interweave the stage is set for a thrilling climax.

Uptight #2 by Jordan Crane
20-page B&W comic book $2.50

The second issue of this all-new, incredibly affordable series from the acclaimed Jordan Crane! Uptight #2 features two standalone short stories, the tragic ghost story “Take Me Home” and the beautifully observed family drama “Before They Got Better,” along with the second chapter of the tensely unfolding “Keeping Two.” With three heartbreaking stories, elegant artwork, and unique, exquisite design by one of comics’ most exciting voices, this comic series is too good to pass up at any price, let alone the unheard-of cover price of only $2.50!

Mean by Steven Weissman
128-page B&W/color 6.5″ x 9″ softcover $16.95

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It’s hard to recall a time when Steven Weissman’s adorable and idiosyncratic cartoon creations weren’t a part of our lives, hustling about “Milltown,” perfectly drawn and perfectly awful. The cast seemed to appear fully formed by the end of the 1990s, and ready for their “close up.” Every success story has its humble — or arrogant and mean-spirited — beginnings, and now Fantagraphics Books is tickled pink to present Mean, collecting Weissman’s early, self-published, unpublished, and otherwise rare “Yikes” comics. Enjoy your favorite characters’ awkward, embarrassing first appearances; watch them stumble from their early, crude glory into their mature sadistic and masochistic selves. Li’l Bloody and the Pullapart Boy steal candy, X-Ray Spence answers his fan mail, and Kid Medusa falls in love (twice!). Early critical attention, while overwhelmingly positive, often questioned what Weissman “was on” when he came up with these odd tales o f young friendship. Read Mean and guess for yourself.

Devilish Greetings edited by Monte Beauchamp
168-page 5″ x 8″ full-color softcover $18.95

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This sequel to 2004’s hugely popular (in multiple printings) The Devil in Design (featuring 18th- and 19th-century Krampus postcards) is a fascinating, full-color compendium of extremely rare devil postcards culled from key postcard collections from around the world and spanning approximately 1898 through the 1950s. Lavishly illustrated with over 150 striking and stylized full-color examples, the book is edited and designed by Monte Beauchamp, editor and designer of the popular graphic arts anthology Blab! Beginning in the late 19th Century, images of the devil began popping up on postcards in Austria and Germany, and by 1902 became so popular that they proliferated across all of Europe. American postcard manufacturers took note and jumped on the bandwagon, producing their own versions. These penny “dreadfuls” were used to promote a vast array of occasions and products — from festive holiday celebrations, such as Halloween and Chri stmas (in Europe), to popular household products such as furnaces, chili peppers, and insecticides. More than just modest mail pieces, devil postcards were often composed by skilled graphic designers, illustrators and renowned artists.

Krazy & Ignatz: The Kat Who Walked in Beauty by George Herriman
Edited by Derya Ataker; Designed by Jacob Covey
114-page B&W 15″ x 7″ hardcover $29.95

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Presenting a unique, stand-alone companion to our Krazy & Ignatz series. The Kat Who Walked In Beauty collects many rare and unique dailies from the 1910s and 1920s. Though many readers are aware of Herriman’s dynamic Sunday pages, few know that during 1920, in what must have been an editorially unrestrictive period for Herriman, he drew some of the most graphic and brilliantly conceived daily strips ever created; they look like “mini-Sunday” strips. This nine-month stretch of dailies, never-before-reprinted, is among the treasures included in this collection. The collection includes many other Herriman gems, including the very first stand-alone Krazy & Ignatz strips from 1911, and the illustrations from Herriman’s Krazy Kat Jazz pantomime/ballet, performed to captivated New York audiences in 1922. This book fills in several gaps in the daily strip history, reproduced at close to their original size.

The Complete Peanuts 1965-1966 (Vol. 8) by Charles M. Schulz; introduction by Hal Hartley
344-page B&W 8.5″ x 6.5″ hardcover $28.95

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We are now in the mid-1960s, one of Schulz’s peak periods of creativity (and one third of the way through the strip’s life!). Snoopy has become the strip’s dominant personality, and this volume marks two milestones for the character: the first of many “dogfights” with the nefarious Red Baron, and the launch of his writing career (“It was a dark and stormy night…”). Two new characters — the first two from outside the strip’s regular little neighborhood — make their bows. Roy (who befriends Charlie Brown and then Linus at summer camp) won’t have a lasting impact, but upon his return from camp he regales a friend of his with tales of the strange kids he met, and she has to go check them out for herself. Her name? Peppermint Patty.

The Complete Peanuts Boxed Set 1963-1966 by Charles M. Schulz
two 344-page B&W 8.5″ x 6.5″ hardcovers in a collector’s slipcase $49.95

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A boxed set of the seventh and eighth volumes of The Complete Peanuts, designed by the award-winning graphic novelist, Seth. With volumes 1963-1964 and 1965-1966 packed in a sturdy custom box designed especially for this set, it’s the perfect gift book item.

Chance in Hell by Gilbert Hernandez
120-page B&W 5.5″ x 7.5″ hardcover $16.95

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Gilbert Hernandez’s first original graphic novel from Fantagraphics follows on the heels of his acclaimed graphic novel, Sloth, from DC’s Vertigo Comics in 2006. Chance in Hell tells the story about a little orphan girl who lives in the slum of slums. Nobody knows who she is or where she’s from, but her fellow shantytown inhabitants collectively look over her. The three-act story follows our heroine as she is adopted by a decent man who raises her well, and she eventually marries a kind, well-to-do man, only to discover that she canÕt relate to the good life and the comforts it provides. This is the first in a series of standalone stories depicting the fictional filmography of Gilbert’s Love and Rockets character, the B-movie actress Fritz. Hernandez wowed critics in 2003 with his epic work, Palomar, collecting more than 20 years of groundbreaking comics called “the most substantive single work that the comics medium ha s yet produced,” by Booklist. Chance in Hell further establishes Hernandez as one of the great cartoonists of our age.

Love and Rockets Vol. II #20 by Los Bros. Hernandez
56-page B&W/color comic book $7.99

If you missed Jaime Hernandez’s “La Maggie La Loca” serial in the pages The New York Times, or even if you didn’t, you can catch the whole thing in this special issue in an expanded “Director’s Cut” format with the cuss words put back in and 4 added pages! Plus, seventeen-year-old Venus helps us say goodbye to Gilbert Hernandez’s post-Palomar stories in Love & Rockets! Is “Venus and You” the swan song for those characters in L&R? Hmmm…

Angry Youth Comix Vol. II #13 by Johnny Ryan
24-page B&W comic book $3.50

In this long-awaited issue, all of protagonist Loady McGee’s worst (and most amusing) traits are brought to the fore as his obsessive quest reaches a fever pitch. His best friend, Sinus O’Gynus, finds himself at an unexpected crossroads in his life, forcing him to make several life-altering decisions. But whatever happened to Loady’s girlfriend, Blubbina LaQuiche? That and many other answers are revealed as our protagonists walk and talk their way through the streets of Brooklyn and Manhattan, all delineated in Ryan’s evocatively pristine style. Or something like that.

The Comics Journal #284
200-page 8 1/2″ x 11″ squarebound magazine $11.95

Marvel Monsters and Monkey Kings make mayhem in The Comics Journal #284! Gary Groth interviews cartoonist Roger Langridge, creator of a rogue’s gallery of characters such as Fred the Clown, Art d’Ecco and Knuckles the Malevolent Nun. The New Zealand native will also talk about his collaborative work, such as his recent turn as the artist for Marvel’s Fin Fang Foom. Also interviewed is Xeric-winner Gene Yang, whose young-adult graphic novel, American Born Chinese, was recently nominated for a National Book Award. From the turn of the 19th century, Frederick Burr Opper’s comic strip Happy Hooligan — one of the inspirations for Chaplin’s Little Tramp — is examined, complete with approximately 30 Sunday strips reproduced in full color.

Castle Waiting Vol. II #7 by Linda Medley
24-page B&W comic book $3.95

A fable for modern times, Castle Waiting is a fairy tale that’s not about rescuing the princess, saving the kingdom, or fighting the ultimate war between Good and Evil — but about being a hero in your own home. In this issue: Rackham searches for a missing shovel and ends up arguing with Chess about the finer points of the “manly arts”; Flora the Goat is fed up with being penned up; and Tolly finishes opening the secret passageway, with disastrous results.

Johnny Ryan’s XXX Scumbag Party by Johnny Ryan
176-page B&W/color 7″ x 10″ softcover $18.95

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Johnny Ryan is the one-man Mad magazine behind the quarterly comic-book series, Angry Youth Comix. He has made a name (Rolling Stone called him 2005Õs “Hot Cartoonist,” based on much of the work from this collection) and built a cult audience with his audacious sense of humor, mixing absurdist slapstick, social parody, and a compulsion for the profane that borders on the Promethean in its rejection of self-censorship (the very title of this book may give some indication). Collecting issues six through ten of Angry Youth Comix as well as many other surprises, Johnny RyanÕs XXX Scumbag Party features such signature Ryan characters as Boobs Pooter, Loady McGee, Sinus O’Gynus, Baby Johnson, and Blecky Yuckerella, as well as over 100 hilariously offensive gag cartoons peppered throughout the book.

Squa Tront #12 edited by John Benson
64-page 8 1/2″ x 11″ squarebound magazine $9.95

Squa Tront, the EC magazine, returns with a brand-new 64-page extravaganza! Included are unpublished interviews with Harvey Kurtzman and Jack Kamen. Publisher Lyle Stuart talks about his days as EC’s business manager. Writer Larry Siegel reminisces about Harvey Kurtzman, MAD and Humbug. Never-before-seen art by Jack Davis, Harvey Kurtzman, Jack Kamen and Wallace Wood! A feature on EC’s rarest publication, The Profit! Cover painting by Johnny Craig. A must for any EC fan!

The Glamour Girls of Bill Ward (softcover edition) edited by Alex Chun
176-page full-color 9” x 12” softcover $24.95

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Renowned pin-up artist Bill Ward gets the full coffee-table treatment in this lavish oversized color paperback edition featuring Ward’s most polished, fully-realized portraits of the 1950s. Imagine, if you will, an innocent but stunning young woman boasting the most unlikely Barbie-like proportions — and then some — poured into a wisp of lingerie or clingy cocktail dress, silky opera-length gloves, and sheer thigh-high stockings, perched precariously but not inelegantly atop a pair of dangerously high stilleto heels, and you’ve got the recipe for the quintessential Wardian glamour girl. Ward’s girls became staples of countless men’s and humor magazines, where he shared the pages with cult models like Bettie Page and fellow “good girl” artists such as Dan DeCarlo and Jack Cole. Ward became the standard-bearer and justly famous through the ’50s and ’60s for his angular, high-sheen images of improbably busty glamour girls, a kind of low-rent Char les Dana Gibson. What set Ward apart — and above — his talented contemporaries was his use of a medium called the conte crayon. When drawn on a simple newsprint stock, this potent combination created a charcoal-like effect and color that gave Ward’s original art an elegant sepia-tone quality. This volume features the best of Ward’s Humorama work, including a selection of Ward’s infamous telephone girls. Tame by today’s standards, Ward’s telephone girls were considered provocative at the time, caught as they were in various states of dress, or, more often, undress. The majority of the images in this volume were drawn between 1956 and 1963 when Ward was at the height of his skill, shot from original art and printed in full color. This book not only reproduces over a hundred beautifully rendered illustrations, but captures a more innocent moment in American pop culture.

Meanwhile… A Biography of Milton Caniff by R.C. Harvey
952-page B&W 6” x 9” hardcover $34.95

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Milton Caniff was one of the most influential American cartoonists of the 20th century. He rose to prominence during World War II when he took the characters in his Terry and the Pirates strip into the war. The trenchant pragmatic patriotism of the strip warmed hearts and steeled nerves on the home front as well as the battlefront (one of his strips was read into the Congressional Record). He went on to create Steve Canyon, which was syndicated from 1947 to Caniff’s death in 1988. Milton Caniff, Terry and the Pirates, and Steve Canyon: Meanwhile… traces Caniff’s life from the cradle to the grave, marking the milestones in the development of the comic strip that Caniff established. Caniff reshaped the medium and set standards by which all storytelling strips were subsequently judged. He created many colorful characters, including the stalwart Pat Ryan from Terry and the Pirates, Burma the shady lady, and, most memorable of all , the Dragon Lady, a beautiful but mysteriously menacing pirate queen who turned Chinese patriot during the War. While Milton Caniff provides a biography of Caniff and analyzes his storytelling techniques, it also serves as a history of the medium and reveals the inner workings of the syndicate business (at which Caniff was as expert as he was at cartooning). The book examines the artistic innovations and work routines of a nationally distributed cartoonist whose career was central to the development of the artform, marking along the way the milestones in the development of comic strip artistry that Caniff established. The book charts Caniff’s rise to fame and fortune through artistic excellence and patriotic fervor when the characters in his comic strip Terry and the Pirates entered World War II, then recounts the decline of his strip Steve Canyon’s popularity (whose protagonist served as an unofficial spokesman for the U.S. Air Force from the Korean Wa r until the end of the strip in 1988) when the same brand of patriotism that had inspired admiration during World War II provoked protest during Vietnam, a bittersweet conclusion to a career spent producing a daily feature for 55 years, a record that would stand for a generation.

The Comics Journal #283
200-page (48 pages in full color, 152 b&w) squarebound magazine $9.95

L’Association co-founder and prolific cartoonist Lewis Trondheim talks about the wry sword-and-sorcery mega-epic Donjon, his autobio comics, McConey and his “retirement.” PictureBox publisher Dan Nadel queries art-comics (Wonderfool World) creator and fine artist David Sandlin on his pieces in Raw, as well as the eerie Swamp Preacher, which ties into the larger world of his Blab! anthology-and-storybook work. Our color comics section turns up a 1950 comics adaptation of John Buchan’s The Thirty-Nine Steps by Dick Davis and Jim Lavery. Plus! Profound columns, sharp reviews and a whole lot more by the comics medium’s smartest critics and historians.

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