Heads Up!

Heads Up: First two volumes of MICKY MOUSE by Floyd Gottfredson, on sale now!

Unfortunately, this “Heads Up” is for RCN’s Canadian readers only. At our local Chapters store earlier today, I came across the first two volumes of Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse by Floyd Gottfredson, published by Fantagraphics Books, on sale (already!) for CDN$9.99 each. Wow! At that price, how could I resist? Short answer: I couldn’t. I bought them both.

With my Chapters card discount, the grand total, tax included, came to CDN$18.88.

Now that, my friends, is a great deal!

P.S. Of course, the Mickey Mouse books might be on sale in other countries as well. Feel free to post your own “Heads Up” below if you come across them in a store near you.

Heads Up!

Heads Up: BLACKLUNG by Chris Wright

Coming in Fall 2012 from Fantagraphics:


Here’s the publisher’s description:

Chris Wright’s Blacklung is unquestionably one of the most impressive graphic novel debuts in recent years, a sweeping, magisterially conceived, visually startling tale of violence, amorality, fortitude, and redemption, one part Melville, one part Peckinpah. Blacklung is a story that lives up to the term graphic novel, that could only exist in sequential pictures — densely textured, highly stylized, delicately and boldly rendered drawings that is, taken together, wholly original. In a night of piratical treachery when an arrogant school teacher is accidentally shanghaied aboard the frigate Hand, his fate becomes inextricably fettered to that of a sardonic gangster. Dependent on one another for survival in their strange and dangerous new home, the two form an unlikely alliance as they alternately elude or confront the thieves and cutthroats that bad luck has made their companions and captors. After an act of terrible violence, the teacher is brought before the ship’s captain and instructed to use his literary skills to aid him in writing his memoirs. He is to serve as scribe for a man who, in his remaining years, has made it his mission to commit as many acts of evil as possible in order to ensure that he meet his dead wife in hell. As the captain’s protected confidant, finding his only comfort in the few books afforded him, the teacher bears witness to monstrous brutality, relentless cruelty, strange wisdom, and a journey of redemption through loss of faith.

I know nothing about Chris Wright’s work in comics, but the cover of Blacklung definitely has my attention. Throw in the publisher’s intriguing description of the book and the glowing notice that a preview PDF of Blacklung (supplied by the author) has already received from Chris Schweizer over at Robot 6, and I may have no choice but to pre-order it!

UPDATE (11 September 2012):

Earlier today over at the Flog Blog, Fantagraphics employee Mike Baehr posted to alert buyers to an unfortunate flaw in the printing of Blacklung:

A small warning: now that we have the printed books in hand, we noticed that due to a strange and unique confluence of events, page 36 is accidentally repeated on page 27. Fortunately, there are no missing pages, and somehow it doesn’t even mess up any other page spreads — like we said, strange. So when you come to that page and it seems out of sequence, just skip on to the next page and everything will be fine.

I’m sure there are folks out there who won’t mind buying Chris Wright’s book despite the repeated page, but I’m not one of them. I’ve cancelled my preorder.

UPDATE (14 September 2012):

“Apology” by Chris Wright:

Chris’s mea culpa is almost enough to make me reconsider my pre-order cancellation…

Comics · Here, Read · Look Here · Steve Ditko

Look Here, Read: “The Man Who Painted on Air,” with art by Steve Ditko

From Unusual Tales #7 (May 1957), here’s “The Man Who Painted on Air,” cover and story, with art by Steve Ditko and script by the great unknown:


Registered users can download Unusual Tales #7, in its entirety, via The Digital Comics Museum; the story posted above is a version of the DCM scan that has been run through GIMP to adjust the colour levels. The cover scan, which is from an online auction, has also been run through GIMP.

A nicely cleaned up (and slightly more muted) version of “The Man Who Painted on Air” is included in Unexplored Worlds: The Steve Ditko Archives, Vol. 2 (Fantagraphics, 2012).

For those who don’t aleady know, The Steve Ditko Archives, edited by Blake Bell, is a project to reprint all of the pre-Comics Code stories with art by Steve Ditko that have fallen into the public domain.

Unfortunately, the first volume in the series, Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 1, is currently marked “sold out” in the publisher’s online catalogue.

The most recent volume, Mysterious Traveller: The Steve Ditko Archives, Vol. 3, was published earlier this spring.

Heads Up!


Coming in January 2013:


The publisher’s description, via Amazon.com:

This comics criticism annual feature career-spanning interviews with Maurice Sendak and Jacques Tardi, a kids’ comics roundtable moderated by Art Speigelman, and much more.

The newly formatted, 600+ page Comics Journal has proved a resounding success with 2011’s edition, featuring a cover and interview with R. Crumb, instantly selling out. 2012’s #302 is sure to prove just as critically and commercially exciting to comics readers worldwide. This edition’s cover feature is a long, intimate interview-portrait with and of Maurice Sendak, the greatest and most successful children’s book author of the 20th — and 21st — century, the author of Where the Wild Things Are, In the Night Kitchen, Outside Over There, Higglety Piggelty Pop, and the illustrator of works by Herman Melville, Leo Tolstoy, and Randall Jarrell. In his longest published interview, Sendak looks back over a career spanning over 60 years and talks to Gary Groth about art, life, and death (especially death), how his childhood, his parents, and his siblings affected his art and outlook, his search for meaning — and also, on the lighter side, about his love (and hate) of movies. Kim Thompson conducts a career-spanning interview with French graphic novel pioneer Jacques Tardi; the two will explore the Eisner Award-winner’s genre-spanning oeuvre comprising historical fiction, action-adventure, crime-thriller, “icepunk” and more. Art Spiegelman conducts a wide-ranging aesthetic colloquy on classic kids’ comics (Carl Barks’s Donald Duck, John Stanley’s Little Lulu, Sheldon Mayer’s Sugar and Spike, and many more) with a group of comics critics and historians. Michael Dooley moderates a roundtable discussion with Robert Williams, Joe Coleman, Marc Bell, and Esther Pearl Watson about the relationship between fine art and comics. Bob Levin provides a revelatory investigation of the twisted history of the Keep on Truckin’ litigation and a fascinating biographical portrait of R. Crumb’s lawyer, Albert Morse. Warren Bernard writes a groundbreaking historical investigation of the 1954 Senate Subcommittee Hearing on Juvenile Delinquency. Plus: “How to Draw Buz Sawyer” by renowned newspaper cartoonist Roy Crane (and a previously unpublished interview), comics by Lewis Trondheim in English for the first time, Tim Kreider on Chester Brown, a visual gallery of and commentary on proto-comics, and more. The Comics Journal has been for 37 years the world’s foremost critical magazine about comics. It is now more vital than ever, a gigantic print compendium of critiques, interviews, and comics.

Product details:

Paperback: 624 pages
Publisher: Fantagraphics; 1 edition (January 23, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1606996037
ISBN-13: 978-1606996034

And my recommendation:

Buy it!

Al Williamson · Bernie Krigstein · Frank Frazetta · Gahan Wilson · Heads Up! · Jack Davis · Joe Kubert

Heads Up: A selection of new books coming soon from Fantagraphics!

Every once in a while, I like to use the Amazon “Advanced Search” to find out what I have to look forward to in the coming months from my favourite publishers. Sometimes the information published in the Amazon catalogue is not precisely accurate. Sometimes a book will be credited to the wrong publisher. Often the books are listed without descriptions or cover images. Often the publication date that is listed turns out to be wildly optimistic. I think you get the picture. Anyway, today I was looking for forthcoming books available for pre-order from venerable comics publisher, Fantagraphics, and I just thought I’d share with you some of the titles that caught my eye. I don’t know if I will be willing or able to purchase all of these books if and when they finally are released, but they are all titles that I, and perhaps you, will definitely want to consider. So, without further ado, here’s my very tentative shopping list:

[NO IMAGE — that’s not an error; that’s my way of letting you know that there’s no image yet in the Amazon catalogue.]

Problematic: Selected Sketchbook Drawings 2004-2011 [Hardcover]
Jim Woodring (Author)

  • Hardcover: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Fantagraphics Books (October 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1606995944
  • ISBN-13: 978-1606995945

[NO DESCRIPTION — but it doesn’t matter; for me, it’s a must have!]


The Love and Rockets Reader: From Hoppers to Palomar [Paperback]
Marc Sobel (Author), Los Bros Hernandez (Illustrator)

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Fantagraphics Books (October 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1606995928
  • ISBN-13: 978-1606995921

[NO DESCRIPTION — I want to know what this is before I pre-order, but they’ve got my attention.]


The Love and Rockets Companion: 30 Years (and Counting)< [Paperback]
Neil Gaiman (Contributor), Marc Sobel (Editor), Kristy Valenti (Editor)

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Fantagraphics Books (September 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1606995790
  • ISBN-13: 978-1606995792

[NO DESCRIPTION — again, I want to know what’s in this!]

DAL TOKYO [Hardcover]
Gary Panter (Author, Artist)

  • Hardcover: 212 pages
  • Publisher: Fantagraphics Books; 1 edition (Jun 12 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1560978864
  • ISBN-13: 978-1560978862

Product Description

“Dal Tokyo was a monthly comic strip, drawn in Panter’s groundbreaking “ratty line,” about a future Mars that is terra-formed by Texan and Japanese workers. In 1983 the L.A. Reader published the first 63 strips. A few years later, the Japanese reggae magazine Riddim picked up the strip, and Panter continued the saga of Dal Tokyo in installments for over a decade.”

About the Author

“GARY PANTER (Brooklyn, New York) is the author of Jimbo in Purgatory and Jimbo’s Inferno.”

[There’s some of Panter’s work that I like and some that I don’t. Dal Tokyo, however, is one that I will definitely consider purchasing. I won’t pre-order, though.]


Love and Rockets: The Covers [Hardcover]
Los Bros Hernandez (Author)

  • Hardcover: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Fantagraphics Books (November 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1606995987
  • ISBN-13: 978-1606995983

[NO DESCRIPTION — but an easy decision: a must have!]


Weird Horrors & Daring Adventures [Hardcover]
Joe Kubert (Author), Bill Schelly (Editor)

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Fantagraphics Books (September 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1606995812
  • ISBN-13: 978-1606995815

[NO DESCRIPTION — but very tempting nonetheless!]


Messages in a Bottle: Comic Book Stories by B. Krigstein [Paperback]
B. (Bernard) Krigstein (Author), Greg Sadowski (Editor)

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Fantagraphics Books (March 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1606995804
  • ISBN-13: 978-1606995808

[NO DESCRIPTION — doesn’t matter, I want it!]


Gahan Wilson Sunday Comics [Hardcover]
Gahan Wilson (Author)

  • Hardcover: 184 pages
  • Publisher: Fantagraphics Books (February 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1606996126
  • ISBN-13: 978-1606996126

[NO DESCRIPTION — Do I need another collection of Wilson cartoons? Nope. Do I want another one? Yep. Will I be able to afford one? Time will tell.]


“‘Taint the Meat…It’s the Humanity!” and Other Stories [Hardcover]
Jack Davis (Author), Al Feldstein (Author), Gary Groth (Editor)

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Fantagraphics Books (January 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1606995782
  • ISBN-13: 978-1606995785

[NO DESCRIPTION — but probably part of Fantagraphics’ new EC Comics Library, and therefore a must have!]

“50 Girls 50” and Other Stories [Hardcover]
Frank Frazetta (Author), Al Williamson (Author), Gary Groth (Editor)

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Fantagraphics Books (January 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1606995774
  • ISBN-13: 978-1606995778

[NO DESCRIPTION — again, if it’s part of the new EC Comics Library from Fantagraphics, it’s a must have!]

Notice that I haven’t linked to any of the books listed above at Amazon or any other bookseller. That’s deliberate on my part. I’m not trying to make money by enticing you to buy things via RCN. My sole interest is to promote the kind of books that I enjoy so that those books will sell more copies and (maybe) publishers will keep producing the kind of books that I enjoy.

Book/Magazine Covers (All) · Heads Up! · Illustration Art · Jack Davis · Look Here


Yesterday on the FLOG! Blog, Mike Baehr announced that Fantagraphics has pulled the first printing of Jack Davis: Drawing American Pop Culture — A Career Retrospective from (almost!) distribution and has gone back to press to correct a problem with the covers, which apparently were prone to warping. At the same time, the publisher has decided to replace the original cover in sepia (?) and orange with a less design-centric confection that gives pride of place to a cropped, colour version of Davis’s illustration from the first printing:

If you purchased a copy of the first printing of the book, you have several options: you can be happy with what you’ve got, you can exchange what you’ve got for a copy of the new printing, or you can keep what you’ve got and buy a copy of the new printing at a discount. Check out this post on the FLOG! Blog for the official details.

Jack Davis: Drawing American Pop Culture — A Career Retrospective was originally the subject of a “Heads Up” post here at RCN back on 08 November 2010. The cover image included with that post, however, was not the final cover of the first printing. This was:

It’s an interesting design, I guess, although I don’t think all of the elements are as readable as they should be. In an effort to diagnose the problem, I converted the cover to greyscale, and the result is instructive, I think:

Notice how the greenish colour on the lighted side of the forms in Davis’s illustration is pretty much the same value as the orange background. It’s that similarity of value, combined with a lack of any truly dark darks, that I think makes the details of the illustration so difficult to discern. Sure, the narrow range of values in the illustration makes the busy letter forms of the superimposed title more readable than they otherwise would be. Just look what happens, for instance, when I bump up the contrast on that greyscale image:

Setting aside the issue of the annoying visual artifacts that have emerged from my amateurish processing of the low-resolution colour JPEG of the original cover, I think it’s obvious that while the title in the above version of the cover has become more difficult to read, the illustration itself is now more easily decipherable and has a lot more pop!

But why mess around with the contrast at all when it would have been so much easier simply not to put really busy lettering over a really busy illustration?

I suppose the fundamental question for me is, what ought to be the main attraction on the cover a coffee-table book devoted to the art of Jack Davis: some old-timey title lettering or Jack Davis’s art? I think it should be the art. The designer, obviously, had a different idea. Until now, that is.


Here’s a really busy cover in which expert designer and all-round comics genius Harvey Kurtzman uses visual hierarchy and contrast to enable the viewer to take in the various elements, all of which are easily readable, in an orderly fashion, without any confusion as to what is most important, what is next most important, and so on, and so forth:


To me, Kurtzman and Davis’s cover stands head and shoulders above any of the designs I’ve seen for Jack Davis: Drawing American Pop Culture. But don’t be angry at me for pointing this out, Fantagraphics: I still do plan to buy the book.

P.S. If you work for Fantagraphics and you’re reading this, you ought to mention to the designer of Jack Davis: Drawing American Pop Culture that the blue background that represents the sky on the new cover ought to be visible through the structure of the telescopic fire-truck ladder at the top-centre of Davis’s illustration as well as through the spaces between the upper and lower wings of the biplane, etc. In the image currently featured on the FLOG! Blog, those spaces are white, which suggests to me that the background of the original illustration was also white, though I don’t know that for sure…

BELATED DOUBLE BONUS IMAGE (added 09 February 2013):

Here’s what the cover of the new improved version of Jack Davis: Drawing American Pop Culture actually looked like, when all was said and done:


Problems solved!

Comics · Here, Read · Look Here · Walt Kelly

Look Here, Read: Four consecutive POGO Sundays (April 16th to May 7th, 1950) by Walt Kelly

Pogo – Vol. 1 of the Complete Syndicated Comic Strips by Walt Kelly is now in stock in the Fantagraphcs warehouse. Below are the four POGO Sundays included in the PDF preview available via a link on this page in the Fantagraphics catalogue, which makes this post a preview of the preview of the book:


Heads Up! · Lorenzo Mattotti

Heads Up: THE CRACKLE OF THE FROST by Mattotti and Zentner

Originally published in 2003 by Seuil, and reprinted earlier this year by Casterman, Lorenzo Mattotti and Jorge Zentner’s Le Bruit du givre will be published in English in July 2012 (according to Amazon) by Fantagraphics under the title The Crackle of the Frost (ISBN-10: 160699543X; ISBN-13: 978-1606995433).

UPDATE (31 December 2011):

Today I added what seems to be the official English-language Fantagraphics cover for The Crackle of the Frost. This may be the first time the cover has been posted at this size on the Web. I won’t say how I managed to get such a scoop, but a scoop I think it is.

Book/Magazine Covers (All) · Comics · Gahan Wilson · Here, Read · Look Here

Look Here, Read: Gahan Wilson plays dice with the universe!

From Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone, volume 5, number 3 (August 1985), here’s the cover with art by Gahan Wilson along with an amusing fumetti-style collaboration between Gahan Wilson and photographer Arthur Paxton; in the original printing, the photographs ran, in sequence, with each on a separate page:

If you are a fan of Gahan Wilson, you will definitely want to have the magnificent three-volume, slipcased set, Gahan Wilson: Fifty Years of Playboy Cartoons, from Fantagraphics Books — recently re-released at a new, lower price! — in your collection.


Comic Book Resources > 50 Years of Gahan Wilson [interview] by Chris Mautner

The Daily Cross Hatch > Interview: Gahan Wilson Pt. 1, Pt. 2, Pt.3, Pt. 4

Fantagraphics FLOG! Blog > The Infinite Kim Thompson — inspired by Marvel comics editor Mark Guenwald, “One Day, While Sitting at a Nexus…” is a grainy black-and-white photo-comic written by and starring Fantagraphics co-publisher, Kim Thompson, with photographs by John E. Thompson.

Fantagraphics FLOG! Blog > New Comics Day/Now Available: cheaper Ghost World & Gahan Wilson

Fantagraphics FLOG! Blog > Nuts by Gahan Wilson – Previews, Pre-Order

Fantagraphics FLOG! Blog > Gahan Wilson: Fifty Years of Playboy Cartoons BLAD

Ragged Claws Network > Heads Up: NUTS by Gahan Wilson

George Herriman · Heads Up!


Coming in November December from Fantagraphics:

Fantagraphics doesn’t seem to be taking orders yet for this, the first* and final volume in their gorgeous, Chris Ware-designed, deluxe hardcover series of Krazy Kat reprints, but as soon as they do, they’ll have my money!


*If you bought the other two volumes, you know what I’m talkin’ about! If you’re curious how the new volume fits into the cycle of Krazy Kat reprints from Fantagraphics, see my post in the comments section.


BTW, if original art is your thing, and you’ve got US$23,750.00 burning a hole in your pocket, you would be well advised to trade your cash for this absolutely gorgeous, framed Krazy Kat page from the first year of the strip:


The seller is Lewis Wayne Gallery. I’ve purchased a number of pieces of original art from Lewis Wayne Gallery over the past few years, and I’ve never had a bad experience, though, of course, your mileage may vary…