Fantagraphics Releases For June 2008

by Jeff

Recent Fantagraphics Releases and Upcoming Arrivals as of June 2008.

RECENT FANTAGRAPHICS RELEASES

Rebel Visions: The Underground Comix Revolution 1963-1975 (New Softcover Edition)

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By Patrick Rosenkranz

292-page 9″ x 12″ color/b&w softcover • $34.99 USD

Now available in a newly designed and affordable softcover edition! This is a provocative chronicle of the guerilla art movement that changed comics forever. This comprehensive book follows the movements of 50 artists from 1967 to 1972, the heyday of the underground comix movement. Through interviews with the participants and other materials, Rebel Visions is the most intimate look ever at the people and events that forged the phenomenon known as underground comix, from New York to San Francisco, from the corn belt to deep in the heart of Texas, beginning that day in 1968 when R. Crumb debuted ZAP #1 from a baby carriage on Haight Ashbury Street. Rosenkranz has spent over 30 years researching this book and acquiring the cooperation of every significant underground cartoonist who worked throughout this period, including Crumb, Gilbert (Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers) Shelton, Bill (Zippy) Griffith, Art (Maus) Spiegelman, Jack Jackson, S. Clay Wilson, Robert Williams, and many more. The book is illustrated with many never-before-seen drawings by all of the underground cartoonists and exclusive photographs.

The book is centered in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district, where Crumb and the rest of his Zap cronies commingled with the rest of the city’s counter-cultural scene, notably musicians like the Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin. The counterculture was omnipresent in San Francisco for those few years, with underground tabloids like Yellow Dog and the San Francisco Oracle steering the zeitgeist out-of-control, along with the music, political, and psychedelic drug scenes, all of which found a group of unlikely revolutionaries who drew cartoons right at the epicenter. This is the definitive book on a memorable and historic era, available for the first time in paperback in this newly designed, expanded and revised edition.

Bottomless Belly Button

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By Dash Shaw

720-page 6″ x 8.5″ monochrome softcover • $29.99 USD

Bottomless Belly Button is a comedy-drama that follows the dysfunctional adventures of the Loony Family.

After 40-some years of marriage, Maggie and David Loony shock their children with their announcement of a planned divorce. But the reason for splitting isn’t itself shocking: they’re “just not in love any more.” The announcement sparks a week long Loony family reunion at Maggie and David’s creepy (and possibly haunted) beach house.

The eldest child, Dennis, struggles with his parents’ decision while facing difficulties of his own in his recent marriage. Believing that his parents are hiding the true reasons behind their estrangement, Dennis embarks on a quest to discover the truth and searches through clues, trap doors, and secret tunnels in attempt to find an answer. Claire, the middle child, is a single mother whose 16-year-old daughter, Jill, is apathetic to the divorce but confounded by Claire and troubled by her own “mannish” appearance. The youngest child, Peter, is a hack filmmaker suffering from paralyzing insecurities who establishes an unorthodox romance with a mysterious day care counselor at the beach.

In a six-day period rich with atmospheric sequences, these characters stumble blindly around one another, often ignoring their surroundings and consumed by their own daily conflicts. Visually, Shaw employs a leisurely storytelling pace that allows room for exploring the interconnecting relationships among the characters and plays to his strength as a cartoonist — small gestural details and nuanced expressions that bring the characters to vivid and intimate life.

If the controversial R.D. Laing wrote an episode of The Simpsons, it might read something like Bottomless Belly Button.

Comic Arf

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By various artists; edited and designed by Craig Yoe

120-page 9″ x 12″ color/b&w softcover • $19.99 USD

Another great Arf book for 2008, and it features one of the greatest comickers of all: Milt Gross! The Gross-ness starts off with a stunning cover painting done in the 1930s but, as they say, ripped from today’s headlines. It’s all about immigration: Uncle Sam grinds up a sea of immigrants and out come… classic comic strip characters!

Milt Gross drew a 1920s comic that left the last panel blank for aspiring cartoonists. Editor Craig Yoe drafted a who’s who of contemporary cartoonists to complete Gross’s unfinished masterpieces. Art Spiegelman, Seymour Chwast, Patrick McDonnell, Mort Walker, R. Crumb, Bil Keane, Johnny Ryan, Jaime Hernandez, Mike Mignola, Bill Griffith, Kaz, Gene Deitch, Joost Swarte and a dozen more cartooning celebrities contribute art especially done for this Arf Happening!

The Arf books are famed for unearthing unknown Old Skool cartoonist geniuses. Comic Arf showcases the brilliant Dudley Fisher who amazingly drew crowded scenes all from a bird’s eye view. And Arch Dale is another unsung genius getting his due with his Smurfs-meet-Dr. Seuss characters, the Doo-Dads, who populated Canadian comic strips 75 years ago.

Arf also highlights unusual work from recognized masters. Walt Kelly, famed for his Pogo strip, did a surreal nightmarish strip for children presented in all its glory in this latest Arf tome. Amongst all this fun, Comic Arf is also proud to present a hard-hitting chapter this volume entitled “The 15 Most Powerful Anti-War Cartoons of History,” drawing from every major conflict of the last 200 years.

All this and much more, from 1950s devilish horror comics to cartoonist portraits by Gary Panter and Mitch O’Connell.

Explainers: The Complete Village Voice Strips (1956-1966)

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By Jules Feiffer

568-page 9.25″ x 5.25″ black & white hardcover • $28.95 USD

In 1956, a relatively unknown cartoonist by the name of Jules Feiffer started contributing a strip to the only alternative weekly published in the US, a small radical newspaper called The Village Voice. His strip tackled just about every issue, private and public, that affected the sentient American: relationships, sexuality, love, family, parents, children, psychoanalysis, neuroses, presidents, politicians, media, race, class, labor, religiion, foreign policy, war, and one or two other existential questions. It was the first time that the American public had been subjected to a weekly dose of comics that so uncompromisingly and wittily confronted individuals’ private fears and society’s public transgressions. Explainers is the first of four volumes collecting Feiffer’s entire run of weekly strips from The Village Voice. This edition contains approximately 500 strips originally published between 1956 and 1966 in a brick-like landscape hardcover format.

UPCOMING ARRIVALS COMING SOON

Angry Youth Comix Vol. 2 #14

By Johnny Ryan

24-page 6.75″ x 10.25″ black & white comic book • $3.50 USD

In this issue Boobs Pooter reveals THE WORLDS FUNNIEST JOKE!

Hank Ketcham’s Complete Dennis the Menace 1951-1952 (Softcover Edition)

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By Hank Ketcham

624-page 5.125″ x 6″ black & white softcover • $18.99 USD

The first volume of Hank Ketcham’s Complete Dennis the Menace, collecting every single panel strip from 1951 and 1952, is now available in this handsome and affordable softcover edition.

Dennis the Menace began on March 14, 1951 (four months after Ketcham’s friend and colleague Charles Schulz started his own historic comic strip). He went on to become the second most popular cartoon kid in the world — after Charlie Brown, of course. Dennis the Menace first appeared in 16 American newspapers; by the end of 1951, he was appearing in over a hundred. The reason for Dennis’ success is easy to figure out: It was one of the most brilliantly observed and empathetic comic strips about childhood ever drawn. Ketcham captured the mischievousness, rambunctiousness, and anarchy of a kid’s world better than any other cartoonist. The strip appeals to both parents and children — while parents shake their heads ruefully at how accurately Ketcham caught the essence of children’s natural zest for mayhem, children identify with Dennis and the chaos that he leaves in his wake — just a hop, skip, and a jump away from their own fantasy of themselves! Ketcham was a cartoonist with a vivacious line that was exquisitely suited to depicting adults and children. His gags were funny, subtle and touching. Ketcham drew Dennis the Menace from 1951 to 1994, when he retired and let his assistant take over the strip.

Pocket Full of Rain and Other Stories

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By Jason

160-page 7″ x 10″ b&w/color softcover • $19.99 USD

This multifaceted anthology collects over 25 stories from the first decade of Jason’s career, including his remarkable calling card, the novella-length thriller “Pocket Full of Rain,” which has never before been published in English. Like a number of his initial stories, “Pocket” is actually drawn with realistic human beings instead of blank-faced animal characters — a true revelation for Jason fans. In fact, this book showcases three distinct styles: his earliest “realistic” drawing style (used to unsettling effect in some particularly creepy stories), an intermediate “bighead” cartoony style that still features humans (used for both humor and drama), and the “funny-animal” style he’s now best known for.

The book reveals a young cartoonist experimenting with styles, working through his obsessions (love, loneliness, film, Hemingway) and paying tribute to his cartooning heroes (Wolverton, Moebius, Pratt). Also, croquet-playing nuns, sentient cacti, autobiographical drunken escapades, lists of people who deserve to die, and a color gallery featuring God cheating at Trivial Pursuit.

Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko

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By Blake Bell

216-page 9″ x 12″ full-color hardcover • $39.99 USD

Steve Ditko is best known as the co-creator, with Stan Lee, of Spider-Man, Dr. Strange, and other classic Marvel and DC characters. But, in the context of Steve Ditko’s 50-year career in comics, his creative involvement with Spider-Man is merely the tip of the iceberg. Strange & Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko is a coffee table art book tracing Ditko’s life and career, his unparalleled stylistic innovations, and his strict adherence to his philosophical principles, with lush displays of obscure and popular art from the thousands of pages of comics he’s drawn over the last 55 years.

The Number 73304-23-4153-6-96-8

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By Thomas Ott

104-page 6.25″ x 10″ black & white hardcover • $28.95 USD

Swiss horror master Thomas Ott returns with the first full-length graphic novel of his career. When clearing up the cell of a prisoner who has been sentenced to death and subsequently executed, a prison guard finds a small piece of paper with a combination of numbers on it.

On the spur of the moment, he puts it into his pocket.

As the guard lives a solitary, monotonous life, the numbers on the paper awake his curiosity. To find out their hidden meaning could add a new meaning to his life as well, so the guard stumbles into situations in which the number or part of it seem to achieve a certain importance and offer him hints and possible solutions. And the numbers signal a radical change in his luck. He gets to know a woman, falls in love with her, and one night, in a casino, he wins a huge amount of money when gambling on these numbers.

But the next morning, the woman and money have disappeared.

The man goes in search of the woman and the money. But from that day on, his luck changes and the numbers bring him only bad luck, sending him inexorably into an abyss that he might not recover from. Thomas Ott’s O. Henry-esque plot twists will delight fans of classic horror like The Twilight Zone and Tales from the Crypt, or modern masters like filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan; his hallucinatory, hyper-detailed scratchboard illustrations will haunt you long after you’ve put the book down.

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