There is a stark beauty to be found in the 320 pages of this full-color special collection of comics, “World War 3 Illustrated 1979-2014,” published by PM Press and set for release this July. I call it a stark beauty for good reason. I think it is the most economical way to express the urgency and the severity of the issues being confronted. It’s also a quick way to say that this is thoughtful and vital art that you’ll find in this collection of some of the best work to appear in the semi-annual anthology, “World War 3 Illustrated.”
Category Archives: Anthologies
Preview: ‘World War 3 Illustrated 1979-2014,’ edited by Peter Kuper and Seth Tobocman, Release Party in NYC, June 19, 2014
“World War 3 Illustrated 1979-2014,” edited by Peter Kuper and Seth Tobocman, with an introduction by Bill Ayers, is essential reading. Activism and comics are a natural together and this impressive collection is a shining example. It is a balancing act to make sense out of what can appear to be utter chaos. Of course, it’s this chaos that demands close scrutiny since it is likely orchestrated by others in power with a ruthless need to manipulate, cheat, and steal. Sure, you’ve heard of The Tea Party and you may think you know what they’re about. But do you really? Well, they’re not real. They were created by the Koch brothers. And maybe you know that. But, just like Thomas Nast “exposed” the corruption of New York City politics one hundred years ago by distilling dense information into compelling cartoons, so too do cartoonists today, like Peter Kuper, provide that same valuable service.
“Zombies vs Robots: No Man’s Land,” a new prose anthology, edited by Jeff Conner, with illustrations by Fabio Listrani, and published by IDW, is deserving of a thoughtful review. Let’s get one thing straight. Zombies are definitely not for everyone. However, as more and more casual readers have come to find, the genre offers up some fun possibilities, and this book is a fine example of just that.
“The Cartoon Picayune” has hit its stride with its latest issue and is poised to become a leading voice in comics journalism. These things take time and I’m sure that has not been lost on its editor, Josh Kramer. He began by himself, covering local stories in Vermont and New Hampshire. And now he has contributors from around the world. This is a unique anthology that lives up to spirit of what used to be called literary journalism. And we have reached a point now that finds comics journalism to be more readily accepted and understood. It is a subset of comics that has been steadily developing over the years and The Cartoon Picayune can be relied upon to add to this tradition. Issue Five features two full length stories and two brief stories, each exploring the theme of work.
Northwest Press has recently published two excellent anthologies that feature a stellar roster of cartoonists exploring issues of sexuality. Both are highly recommended as showcases of comics discourse. It can be a challenge to find the right balance when putting together any anthology, especially one collecting works in comics. You want to find a way for each work to compliment the other in a medium that quickly signals the reader. In both these cases here, you have two books worthy of exploration, one a recent entry and the other from last year.
Review: ‘The Best American Comics 2013,’ Editor, Jeff Smith; Series Editors, Matt Madden and Jessica Abel
“The Best American Comics 2013” pops out at you with we-mean-business cover art by Kate Beaton and zips right to it. I interviewed this year’s editor, Jeff Smith (read here). As he explained, he was looking for singular talent, whether new or established, “A story someone really needs to tell.” He took care with placement so that elements from one work flow into the next and compliment each other.
Smith starts with Alison Bechdel’s “Mirror,” an autobiographical piece about mother/daughter dynamics; and he ends with Paul Pope’s “1969,” a quirky inside look at the first human landing on the moon. These two works by cartoonist heavyweights anchor the top and bottom. In between, other top contenders lend a hand, like an excerpt from Craig Thompson’s “Habibi.”
There are many new rising stars that get to sparkle amid the well know cartoonists. One such talent is Sophie Goldstein. Her work is placed right before Craig Thompson’s. The connection between the two is the focus on the female main character. In Goldstein’s “The Good Wife,” we view a woman who denies herself well beyond her limits in order to please her husband. That story gives way to Thompson’s “70 Nights of Pleasure,” an excerpt from “Habibi.”
Again, we have a woman pushing her limits to satisfy one man. The artwork, and the narrative structure, for each of these pieces is quite different. Goldstein’s style is basic. Thompson’s style is ornate. However, both present confident, mature work. That’s saying a lot since Thompson is a seasoned veteran and Goldstein is a recent graduate from the Center for Cartoon Studies.
If you’re looking for a cut-to-the-chase short list on the best comics in America, then this 400-page trade paperback is your book. There are 30 works featured here and they are all gems. This book is in full color. “The Best American Comics 2013” is published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and is available here.
Emi Gennis has edited a wonderful anthology about mysteries, urban legends and unsolved crimes, UNKNOWN ORGINS & UNTIMELY ENDS, published by Hic & Hoc Publications, and you can read my review HERE. Now, I had planned on interviewing Emi ever since my review! And so I can kick myself for not working my video camera properly. I think Emi and I had just hit upon something miraculous while in conversation and now I can’t recall the exact details. I think we were on the verge of discovering an easy way to time travel but we didn’t bother to take notes! Ah, well. But, then again, isn’t reading comics the best way ever to time travel? Forget your flux capacitors and travel back in time with some good comics. Emi has a couple of mini-comics that follow the themes from her anthology: one is a true crime story while the other has a steampunk vibe to it.
“The Unusual Death of Gregory Biggs” is a very neatly presented 5.5″ x 8.5″ 12-page mini. Artwork is strong. Story is told in a compelling way. It’s not your usual CSI type of crime story either! Only $2.
“Unfortuante Mishaps in Aviation History” is another beautifully rendered mini. I really like this format. And Emi has a way with capturing facial expressions and being mindful of details: clothing, perspective, architecture. It demonstrates a high skill level and a love for the comics medium.
Well, again, I feel bad that we missed the video portion to this post but there’s always next time. I look forward to seeing more of Emi’s work and she should definitely submit her work everywhere she can, including that most engaging publication, THE STRUMPET.
Visit Emi at her website HERE.
It is always a delight to talk with fellow cartoonist and friend, Marc Palm. In this interview from Stumptown Comics Fest, in Portland last weekend (April 27-28), we joke around a bit, although both of us were pretty weary by then, as the festivities were drawing to a close that Sunday. Among the various places you can find Marc, try HERE.
Marc Palm is a cartoonist based out of Seattle. He is involved with the ongoing comics anthology, INTRUDER. And Mr. Palm will be busy this Saturday, Free Comic Book Day, over at Fantagraphics Bookstore in support of FREAK COMIC BOOK, a Fantagraphics mini that he’s a contributor in. So, if you’re in the Seattle area, you’re going to be busy too checking out your favorite local comics shops including, of course, Fantagraphics Bookstore.
From the Press Release:
“Fantagraphics Bookstore will issue an exclusive 16-page Freak Comic Book mini featuring a stellar cast of local alternative artists. Edited by Intruder contributor Marc Palm, the book includes new works by Max Clotfelter, Kelly Froh, Eroyn Franklin, Tom Van Deusen, Ben Horak, Darin Shuler, David Lasky, Aidan Fitzgerald, Pat Moriarity, John Ohannesian, Max Badger, and James Stanton. As May 4 is also Star Wars Day – (“May the Fourth Be With You”) – the mini concludes with touching tributes to Yoda by Peter Bagge, Ellen Forney, Jim Woodring, and Kazimir Stzrepek. Freak Comic Book is limited to 100 copies. Many of the contributing artists will be in attendance to sign their work.” FBI informant — with Max Badger Woodring, Jim Woodring, James Stanton, Peter Bagge, Ellen Forney – Cartoonist and Kazimir Strzepek at Fantagraphics Bookstore and Gallery.
Gay is a powerful term, particularly in its use in a political movement. However, as Charles “Zan” Christensen points out, it is not as useful when describing the complexities of an individual. The categories of “gay” and “straight” just aren’t enough. What about everything in between? Christensen, publisher of Northwest Press, which specializes in comics with LGBT themes, is preparing to launch a new comics anthology that explores these issues of sexuality. “Anything That Loves,” brings together a roster of excellent cartoonists creating works that explore their unique observations on the sexual spectrum.
It was a pleasure to get a chance to interview Zan. He’s very passionate and articulate about what he believes in, as is evident in our conversation.
“Anything That Loves” has achieved phenomenal success as a Kickstarter project. And the party isn’t over yet. This campaign runs through April 28. It has already reached over twice its funding goal. Additional funds mean more money reaching the creators of the anthology. You can view the campaign here. Since I have launched my own Kickstarter project, which you can view here, I have come to more fully appreciate the work and dedication behind such projects.
From the Northwest Press website:
The Northwest Press anthology Anything That Loves will be released this July, just in time for Comic-Con in San Diego, and features a variety of wonderful artists exploring the seldom-seen world between “gay” and “straight”. The anthology features work from artists Erika Moen, Ellen Forney, Randall Kirby, Jason Thompson, Kate Leth, Leia Weathington, MariNaomi and lots more, and is currently the subject of a Kickstarter fundraising drive.
Visit Northwest Press here.