F.B.I. Informant: June 5, 2007

by Jeff

Dear Friends of Fantagraphics,

May was one of our busiest months ever for new releases, with must-have book after must-have book arriving in our warehouse.

If you haven’t visited www.fantagraphics.com lately, hoo boy, you’ve got some catching up to do! The treats that await you include the stellar new issue of Mome, the latest volumes of our essential new Love & Rockets collections, three new installments in our luxe-yet-affordable Ignatz series, and fantastic, eagerly-awaited new collections and original graphic novels from Ivan Brunetti, Drew Friedman, Fletcher Hanks, Walt Holcombe, Paul Hornschemeier, Walt Kelly, Cathy Malkasian, Josh Simmons, and Edward Sorel — PLUS a jazzy new volume in the “Arf” series and a new and improved edition of the super-hot Beasts!

See below for all the details on all of May’s new offerings, and click here for these and even more recent releases! And don’t forget, you can keep up with all of our transpirings (and witty banter) on our blog:

http://www.fantagraphics.com/blog/

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MOME Summer 2007 by Various; Edited by Eric Reynolds & Gary Groth
120-page B&W/color 7” x 9” paperback $14.95

This eighth volume marks Mome’s two-year anniversary. Please send cake to Fantagraphics Books, Seattle, WA. For the second issue in a row, we have two new contributors, Ray Fenwick and Joe Kimball, whom we hope will be around for a while. Both are new to the comics scene, so be nice to them. Please welcome back Tom Kaczynski, Eleanor Davis (subject of this issue’s feature interview), Al Columbia, and Émile Bravo, all making their second contributions to Mome, which pleases us greatly, as does the return of Johnathan Bennett after an issue’s absence. This issue also concludes Lewis Trondheim’s “At Loose Ends,” and includes contributions from Mome regulars Sophie Crumb and Paul Hornschemeier. Mome represents the height of sophistication and talent in the world of comic art today.

Beasts! (2nd Edition) by various artists; curated by Jacob Covey
200-page full-color 8″ x 8″ hardcover with gilt edges $28.95

Beasts! is a classic mythological menagerie, comprised only of creatures that were thought at one time to actually exist, depicted by about a hundred of the most acclaimed artists and cartoonists coming from the most avant-garde ambits of the art world. The Beasts project has fired the imaginations of luminaries such as Craig Thompson, Souther Salazar, Jeff Soto, Glenn Barr, Dave Cooper, Tim Biskup, Seonna Hong, Jeremy Fish and Jay Ryan, who will present never-before-seen art completely original to this book, superbly laid out in breathtaking, full-color two-page spreads. Beasts! collects many of the best visual artists from the worlds of comics, skateboarding, rock graphics, science-fiction, children’s books, commercial and fine art. The book is conceived and designed by Jacob Covey, Eisner-nominated lead art director for Fantagraphics (Dennis the Menace, Billy Hazelnuts, Popeye, etc.) and a well-regard ed designer and artist in his own right in the Northwest rock and arts community. Other contributors include: Anders Nilsen, Art Chantry, Brian Chippendale, Brian Ralph, Bwana Spoons, Colleen Coover, Jason Miles, Jesse LeDoux, Johnny Ryan, Jordan Crane, Keith Shore, Kevin Scalzo, Marc Bell, Martin Cendreda, Mat Brinkman, R. Kikuo Johnson, Richard Sala, Sammy Harkham, Stan Sakai, S. Britt, Steven Weissman, Ted Jouflas, Tom Gauld and many more.

The first edition of Beasts! sold out quickly. Four artists did new versions of their beast especially for this new second edition. Other enhancements to the second edition include new endpapers illustrated by Ray Fenwick, crisper printing, and a slightly redesigned cover in a new color.

New Tales of Old Palomar #2 (Ignatz Series) by Gilbert Hernandez
32-page B&W saddle stiched 8 1/2” x 11” paperback $7.95

Gilbert Hernandez returns to that funky little Central American hamlet of his with another story set in the “Sopa de Gran Pena” days starring “The Children of Palomar” — in this case the obnoxious and picked-on Gato (whom LR fans will remember as Pipo’s husband-to-be), Soledad, Guero, Pintor, and Arturo. The quintet of troublemakers’ explorations across a bottomless chasm results in two of the kids coming face to face with… well, we won’t spoil the surprise. But Sheriff Chelo is on the case and saves the day! With the very earliest Palomar stories recently released in a redesigned and affordable format in the Heartbreak Soup volume, these new stories of Palomar come along at the perfect time, and the superswanky Ignatz format provides Beto with a perfect canvas.

Delphine #2 (Ignatz Series) by Richard Sala
32-page B&W saddle stiched 8 1/2” x 11” paperback $7.95

In the second installment of Richard Sala’s dark and suspenseful mini-series, the mysterious traveler finds himself sinking deeper and deeper into nightmare territory. The locals seem determined to undermine his every move and he soon finds himself stranded and alone in the ancient forest — and night is falling… This twisted re-imagining of Snow White, told from the viewpoint of the “prince” and set in modern times, continues with more of Sala’s eerily beautiful painted artwork and a startling plot that veers as far away from the countless saccharine versions of Grimm’s folk tale as possible.

Sammy the Mouse #1 (Ignatz Series) by Zak Sally
32-page two-color saddle stiched 8 1/2” x 11” paperback $7.95

Double Eisner nominee (for his acclaimed Recidivist #3, which SPIN Magazine also called one of its “favorite things” in January) and all-around hot cartoonist Zak Sally leaps into Ignatz fray with the first issue of the ongoing Sammy the Mouse series. Rollick with Sammy’s pals Puppy Boy, H. G. Feekes and Him as they walk around, have epileptic seizures, talk to disembodied voices, drink liquor in a bar the shape of a giant baby, and scare the living hell out of each other. The artwork on Sammy the Mouse is created using a sophisticated two-color process Sally already showed off to fine effect in a recent MOME, making it one of the most visually arresting of the Ignatzes.

The Fun Never Stops! by Drew Friedman
136-page b&w/color 8” x 10.5” softcover $16.95

The Fun Never Stops is a comprehensive collection of premier caricaturist Drew Friedman’s best comic strips, illustrations, and mug shots dealing with all the familiar Friedman themes the world has come to love: showbiz has-beens, ugly old white men, nefarious politicians, debauched celebrities, the ubiquitous Lord of Eltingville, etc. Most of the work is from the 1990s, and shows Friedman’s gradual phasing out of his famous (and amazing) black-and-white stipple look to his current (and equally amazing) lush watercolor style. In addition to the works written by Friedman, Fun includes many collaborations with his longtime partner K. Bidus, as well as Harvey Pekar (American Splendor), Mark Newgarden (We All Die Alone), and Bruce Handy, among others. Also included is artwork from the notorious Topps Bubble Gum Card series Toxic High, as well as art from the card sets Beauties and Cuties and Ed Wood Pl ayers. Comic strip highlights include “Everybody’s Buddy” (RAW), which examines the legendarily combustible temper of drummer Buddy Rich; “Where’s Johnny?” (Entertainment Weekly), a journey into what would have become of Johnny Carson’s career had he never hosted the “Tonight Show”; “Hey, Academy!” (NY Observer), a demand from Friedman that Jerry Lewis be awarded a lifetime achievement award by the Motion Picture Academy; “The 10 Least Powerful People in Hollywood” (Details); “Howard Stern & Al Sharpton run for political office in NY” (The New Yorker); and “Kasablanca” (Esquire), which imagines Casablanca as directed by Oliver Stone. The book is topped off with a detailed, career-spanning biographical introduction by Ben Schwartz and a foreword by Daniel Clowes.

I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets! by Fletcher Hanks; ed. by Paul Karasik
120-page full-color 8 1/2” x 11” paperback $19.95

Welcome to the bizarre world of Fletcher Hanks, Super Wizard of the inkwell. Fletcher Hanks worked for only a few years in the earliest days of the comic book industry (1939-1941). Because he worked in a gutter medium for second-rate publishers on third rate characters his work has been largely forgotten. But among aficionados he is legendary. Hanks drew in a variety of genres depicting science-fiction saviors, white women of the jungle, and he-man loggers. Cartoonist Paul Karasik (co-adapter of Paul Auster’s City of Glass and co-author of The Ride Together, a Memoir of Autism in the Family) has spent years tracking down these obscure and hard to find stories buried in the back of long-forgotten comic book titles. Karasik has also uncovered a dark secret: why Hanks disappeared from the comics scene. This book collects 15 of his best stories in one volume followed by an Afterword which solves the mystery of “Whatever Happened to Fletcher Hank s,” the mysterious cartoonist who created a hailstorm of tales of brutal retribution… and then mysteriously vanished.

Human Diastrophism: The Second Volume of “Palomar” Stories from Love & Rockets by Gilbert Hernandez
288-page b&w 7 1/2” x 9 1/4” paperback $14.95

Celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2007, Love and Rockets is finally released in its most accessible form yet: As a series of compact, thick, affordable, mass-market volumes that present the whole story in perfect chronological order. This volume collects the second half of Gilbert Hernandez’s acclaimed magical-realist tales of “Palomar,” the small Central American town, beginning with the landmark “Human Diastrophism,” named one of the greatest comic book stories of the 20th Century by The Comics Journal, and continuing on through more modern-day classics. “Human Diastrophism” is the only full graphic novel length “Palomar” story ever created by Gilbert. In it, a serial killer stalks Palomar — but his depredations, hideous as they are, only serve to exacerbate the cracks in the idyllic Central American town as the modern world begins to intrude. “Diastrophism” concludes with the death (the suicide, in fact) of one of Palomar’s most b eloved characters, and a postscript that provides one of the most hauntingly magical moments of the entire series as a rain of ashes drifts down upon Palomar. Also included are all the post-“Diastrophism” stories, in which Luba’s past (as seen in the epic Poison River) comes back to haunt her, and the seeds are sown for the “Palomar diaspora” that ends this dense, enthralling book.

The Girl from H.O.P.P.E.R.S.: The Second Volume of “Locas” Stories from Love & Rockets by Jaime Hernandez
272-page b&w 7 1/2” x 9 1/4” paperback $14.95

The 25th anniversary Love and Rockets celebration continues with this, the second of three volumes collecting the adventures of the spunky Maggie; her annoying, pixie-ish best friend and sometime lover Hopey; and their circle of friends, including their bombshell friend Penny Century, Maggie’s weirdo mentor Izzy — as well as the aging but still heroic wrestler Rena Titañon and Maggie’s handsome love interest, Rand Race. After the sci-fi trappings of his earliest stories (as seen in Maggie the Mechanic, the first volume in this series), Hernandez refined his approach, settling on the more naturalistic environment of the fictional Los Angeles barrio, Hoppers, and the lives of the young Mexican-Americans and punk rockers who live there. A central story and one of Jaime’s absolute peaks is “The Death of Speedy.” Such is Jaime’s mastery that even though the end of the story is telegraphed from the very title, the downhill spiral of S peedy, the local heartthrob, is utterly compelling and ultimately quite surprising. Also in this volume, Maggie begins her on-again off-again romance with Ray D., leading to friction and an eventual separation from Hopey. (Note: A number of these stories, including a whole cycle of wrestling stories starring or co-starring Rena Titañon, were not collected in the hardcover Locas.)

The Three Paradoxes by Paul Hornschemeier
80-page full-color 6 1/2” x 8 1/2” hardcover $14.95

The Three Paradoxes is an intricate and complex autobiographical comic by one of the most talented and innovative young cartoonists today. The story begins with a story inside the story: the cartoon character Paul Hornschemeier is trying to finish a story called “Paul and the Magic Pencil.” Paul has been granted a magical implement, a pencil, and is trying to figure out what exactly it can do. He isn’t coming up with much, but then we zoom out of this story to the creator, Paul, whose father is about to go on a walk to turn off the lights in his law office in the center of the small town. Abandoning the comic strip temporarily, Paul leaves with his camera, in order to fulfill a promise to his girlfriend that he would take pictures of the places that affected him as a child. Each “chapter” of the story is drawn in a completely different style, with strikingly unique production and color themes, and yet, somehow, despite (or perhaps because of) this non-linear progression, it all comes together as one story: a story questioning change, progress, and worth within the author’s life.

House by Josh Simmons
80-page b&w 7” x 9” paperback $12.95

In the thick of a dense wood, a young man comes upon a decrepit house and two teen-aged girls, who quickly decide to explore the abandoned house together. Simmons captures the aloof ennui and deep curiosity of being a teenager — that is, until events force them to confront their own mortality. This adventurous, silent graphic novel demonstrates the solid strength of this young cartoonist’s storytelling ability. Whether plunging into the watery depths of a sinkhole that has obviously swallowed part of a town or entering the uncertain hidden corridors of the house, every turn is captured with intensity by Simmons’ scratchy pen. Page composition and panel arrangements are masterfully coordinated to reflect the characters’ increasingly claustrophobic panic as the story reaches its crescendo, and to cause a similar and palpable reaction in the reader. House is Josh Simmons’ first full-length graphic novel after years of honing his craft on the h umorous, underground comic series Happy, and it is a visual and formal tour de force that proclaims Simmons a major cartooning talent of the new century.

Caricature by Daniel Clowes
100-page b&w/color 7” x 10” paperback $16.95

BACK IN STOCK! The dramatic short stories included in this softcover edition of Caricature have drawn comparisons to Nabokov for their complex naturalism and sense of humor. Anchored by the title story, considered the first apotheosis of Clowes’ seminal Eightball underground comic book series, Caricature also includes eight other stories, including “Green Eyeliner” — originally published in Esquire as the first work of comics to be featured in the magazine’s fiction issue (and commissioned by then-editor Dave Eggers) — “Gynecology,” “Blue Italian Shit,” “The Gold Mommy,” and more.

Our Gang Vol. 2 by Walt Kelly
96-page full-color 7” x 10” paperback $12.95

Of the handful of comics’ bona fide geniuses, few could match the versatility of Walt Kelly (1913-1973). Trained as an animator at Walt Disney Studios (he worked on cartoon shorts and Pinocchio, Fantasia, and Dumbo), Kelly left during a labor dispute in 1941. He immediately began a new career in the burgeoning field of comic books, contributing heavily to various Disney titles and single-handedly producing its classic fantasy books, Fairy Tale Parade, Mother Goose, and Santa Claus Funnies. Along with fellow Disney alumnus Carl Barks, Kelly is now considered one of the two classic “funny animal” artists from the golden age of comics. Surprisingly, Kelly�s longest-running continuing series was based on actual people — the “real-life” characters of MGM’s durable short-film series, Our Gang (a.k.a. “The Little Rascals”). Spirited and engaging, Kelly�s Our Gang harks back to the days before televisi on, when kids spent most of their time playing outdoors, limited only by each other’s imagination and ingenuity. Kelly created dozens of Our Gang stories by the end of its 59-issue run in 1949, the year he quit comic books to switch careers a final time — as syndicated artist/writer on the immortal newspaper strip, Pogo. This is the second in a series of books reprinting Walt Kelly’s Our Gang stories. Cover by Jeff Smith (Bone).

Just When You Thought Things Couldn’t Get Worse: The Cartoons and Comic Strips of Edward Sorel
144-page b&w/color 8” x 10” paperback $18.95

Edward Sorel is widely recognized as America’s premier illustrator. But when he wasn’t painting covers and making drawings for The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Time, Rolling Stone, and many other mass circulation magazines, he was indulging, over the last 30 years, in his first love — making comic strips. Sorel’s strips are iconoclastic, cynical, and universally excoriating. No target escapes his watchful wrath: politicians, theological dynasties, idealogues left and right, lawyers, publishers, and the usual gang of movers and shakers (nor does he spare himself). Sorel proves he is that most dangerous of creatures — a cartoonist with a chip on his shoulder, an inveterate troublemaker, a burner of bridges. Culled from the pages of The Nation, the Village Voice, Penthouse, and other magazines, this is the first compilation of Edward Sorel’s comic strips, beautifully designed to complement his classic drawing style.

Percy Gloom by Cathy Malkasian
174-page two-color 8″ x 10″ hardcover $18.95

Cathy Malkasian has made the jump from animation to the printed page with a graceful, delicate leap. She deftly uses her pencil to create thick, expressive characters moving through the twilight of a shadowy Orwellian world. Humorous and bewitching at the same time, Percy Gloom is a unique gem of a story. The story begins with our hero bravely striking out on his own for the first time, leaving his mother’s house to apply for his dream job as a cautionary writer for the Safely-Now Corporation. In the process, he uncovers an unreal world of secret societies, benevolent families, and bureaucratic security. Lazy-eyed Percy Gloom fights to overcome the loss of his wife, Lila, to a truth-pointing, lotharian cult leader. Approached by his doctor to help protect some special people and given advice by some talking goats, Percy comes to terms with his place in the gloomy world and finds himself reaching enlightenment (literally). Percy Gloom is an a bsurd but hopeful fable for these strange times we live in.

Cathy Malkasian was the director of TV’s Rugrats and the movie The Wild Thornberrys Movie, and has been nominated for a British Academy Award. This is her first graphic novel.

“Percy Gloom is one of the best books out this year… I can’t imagine we’ll see a more assured and surprising debut this year.” – The Comics Reporter

Arf Forum by Various; Craig Yoe, ed.
120-page full-color 9″ x 12″ softcover $19.95

The third volume of the popular “Arf” series, Arf Forum runs the gamut from Krazy Kat’s kartoonist George Herriman to heartbreak rocker Elvis, Spider-Man’s Stan Lee to New Yorker cartoonist Otto Soglow, Little Nemo’s Winsor McCay to silent film star Charlie Chaplin, Nancy’s Ernie Bushmiller to Surrealist Max Ernst. The sexy pin-up cover on Arf Forum highlights a feature on historical images of people reading comics: from a young Elvis reading Betty and Veronica on his first tour to a boxer-clad Rock Hudson reading the Sunday funnies. Also ratcheting up the titillation factor is a spread on the sexy cartoons of Italian artist, Kremos. The Arf books have a special fondness for cartoonists doing wacky and surrealistic comics. This Arf features a generous sample of Bill Holman’s Smokey Stover, including unpublished rarities. Also in this volume, macabre cartoonist Henry Heath goes devilish in the ongoing “Cartoonists Go To Hell” series. A bona fide super-hero swoops into the pages of Arf when “Captain Marvel Fights The Surrealist Imp” in a classic tale from the Golden Age of Comics; meanwhile, real-life superhero Stan Lee introduces a section devoted to, in Lee’s own words, Yoe’s own “wacky, weird, wild comics that become Art with a capital ‘A’!” And finally, “Yabba Dabba Been Done” examines the caveman and dinosaur cartoons of masters T.S. Sullivant, Winsor McCay and Frederick Opper — all pre-Fred and Wilma Flintstone!

Misery Loves Comedy by Ivan Brunetti
172-page b&w/color 7″ x 10″ hardcover $24.95

A psychiatric case study masquerading as a fancy-pants graphic novel, Misery Loves Comedy collects Ivan Brunetti’s early issues (no pun intended)… wait, let’s rephrase that. Misery Loves Comedy collects the first three issues of the legendary comic book series Schizo in their entirety, as well as a host of miscellaneous flotsam and jetsam from various anthologies, c. 1992-2005. Readers will find the author’s unwitting self-caricature as a paranoid, deluded young man intriguingly repugnant and often chuckle-inducing. Besides Brunetti’s trademark nihilism, self-loathing, relentless depression, and inchoate, spittle-soaked misanthropy, these earlier comics offer a dollop of scatology and blasphemy for that extra puerile, lowbrow tang. These are comics for those who enjoy witnessing one man’s sanity in its final death rattle, swinging its tail from anhedonia to schadenfreude and back again. Also: lots and lots of filthy jokes.

Things Just Get Away from You by Walt Holcombe
216-page b&w 8.5″ x 9.5″ hardcover $24.95

Blessed with a lovely bouncy, rubbery SpongeBob SquarePants-y style, and beloved by fellow cartoonists like Seth and Chris Ware, cartoonist and animator Walt Holcombe tells wildly imaginative stories of love gained and (often) lost. Things Just Get Away From You collects all of Holcombe’s late-1990s comics work, with a bonus new story, “Hails at Sea,” thrown in for good measure. Featuring: a Persian king on a quest for love accompanied by his talking camel; an unlikely friendship between a cynical bug and a lonely snail; a musical-writing whaling captain with some dangerous relationship baggage; a deadly mountain dogfight between ex-lovers over a champion show cat; and a barrel-wearing hobo.


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