Category Archives: Fantagraphics



There is no Black River to be found in Josh Simmons’s graphic novel, “Black River,” but that’s besides the point. The characters are all post-apocalypse survivors with nary a need to know one river from another. Nihilism prevails. For such a bare bones story, there are plenty of compelling moments, both grim and poetic.

People can be pretty hostile and dangerous even in the best of times, so it is quite something to have a group of youth running wild into the wasteland. No zombies to contend with, if that’s any consolation. It’s more the drip, drip, drip, of too many lost and rough souls wandering. All this Simmons depicts well. It’s something any hip cartoonist can revel in, if he or she chooses, and he does a good job of it.

With all the jailhouse craziness that ensues, Simmons is a careful artist. He has a deft way of creating just the right amount of detail to evoke a landscape or a town that has been left in ruins. And I really enjoy his rendering of the Aurora Borealis. It comes up a number of times in panels, enough to add to the spacey energy that charges this work.

Much like a good old-fashioned horror movie, a comic such as this, to be any good, relies upon setting up an interesting mood and environment. Without a doubt, Simmons succeeds in this. He gives us some compelling characters among his ragtag group of hardened misfits. And we’re left wanting to turn the page as a morbid sense of curiosity sets in. Of course, things will get darker, as well as more disgusting. This is raw stuff, kids. Mature content. Those familiar with it, will not be disappointed.


And if you’re in Seattle, be sure to visit the Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery this Saturday, April 25, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm for a reception for the publication of Josh Simmons’s new graphic novel, Black River, and the release of the latest issue of Intruder, #15. Simmons will be joined by his colleagues from the Intruder comix collective. Simmons contributes a story in the latest issue illustrated by Joe Garber. Festivities include a display of Simmons’s original drawings, a black light room, short film screening, a book signing, and complimentary refreshments.

Black River is a 112-page trade paperback, priced at $18.99. For more details, visit our friends at Fantagraphics Books right here.


Filed under Comics, Fantagraphics, Fantagraphics Books, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, Horror, Josh Simmons

Review: MEGAHEX collection published by Fantagraphics Books, by Simon Hanselmann


Megg, Mogg, and Owl. Say it with me, “Megg, Mogg, and Owl.” They will set you free. Set you on a righteous path. What Simon Hanselmann does with his comics is what any artist and/or writer worth his or her salt does: take you somewhere, make you feel something. The most disturbing, and most exhilarating, moment for me in comics this year, or any year, must be Werewolf Jones taking a cheese grater to his testicles. Pure genius. And I say it with only a touch of irony. In fact, it is a great moment in comics.

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Filed under Comics, Comics Reviews, Fantagraphics, Fantagraphics Books, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, Simon Hanselmann, Webcomics

Eleanor Davis and Esther Pearl Watson at Fantagraphics Bookstore this Sunday, Part of Georgetown Art Attack, July 12-13, 2014


For those of you in Seattle, this is a very interesting weekend. For fans of rising cartoonist talent, Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery is the place to be this Sunday, July 13 from 3:00 to 5:00 PM. It will be your chance to meet Eleanor Davis and Esther Pearl Watson. This is part of Georgetown Art Attack weekend, July 12-13, 2014.

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Filed under Comics, Fantagraphics, Fantagraphics Books, Georgetown Art Attack, Seattle

KICKSTARTER: Fantagraphics 2014 Spring Season: 39 Graphic Novels & Books


Fantagraphics Books Publisher Gary Groth invites you to invest in the FB spring season and be a part of the company that has published “the best cartoonists in the history of the world.” Check it out here.

No kidding, Fantagraphics Books is responsible for putting alternative comics on the pop culture map. Think of such great talents as Jim Woodring, Los Bros Hernandez, Daniel Clowes, Peter Bagge, Chris Ware and Joe Sacco, and you are thinking of FB artists.

The Fantagraphics 2014 Spring Season Kickstarter campaign begins today and runs for 30 days: November 5 thru December 5, 2013.

Jaime Hernandez's "The Love Bunglers," part of the FB Spring Schedule

Jaime Hernandez’s “The Love Bunglers,” part of the FB Spring Schedule

As any publisher of comics will tell you, the business can experience some rough patches. For Fantagraphics Books, the loss of its Co-Publisher, Kim Thompson, in June of this year, was greatly felt. In practical terms, Mr. Thompson left a roster of books he was editing still in progress, not ready to meet the upcoming schedule. This takes a big bite out of the next line-up of books. To make up for the loss in upcoming revenue, Mr. Groth is taking it to the people with a $150,000 Kickstarter campaign. Visit the campaign here.

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Jim Woodring Debuts New Graphic Novel, FRAN, at Fantagraphics Bookstore, October 12, 2013


If you’re in the Seattle area this Saturday, October 12, do yourself a favor and stop by the Fantagraphics Bookstore for a big Jim Woodring event. Jim Woodring debuts his latest graphic novel, “Fran.”

Press Release Follows:

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Filed under Alternative Comics, Comics, Comics News, Comix, Fantagraphics, Fantagraphics Books, graphic novels, Jim Woodring, Seattle

R.I.P. Kim Thompson (1956 – 2013), co-publisher of Fantagraphics comics

Kim Thompson portrait by Daniel Clowes

Kim Thompson portrait by Daniel Clowes

Seattle in the ’90s was in full control of the youthquake: Subpop gave us grunge and Fantagraphics, with Gary Groth and Kim Thompson leading the way, gave us alternative comics.

When you look at how comics are now held in high regard, among those you can thank for that is Kim Thompson. I met him once at a party held in his home. Yes, it’s true, he’s a quiet man. So am I and, well, so are most people to some degree. What sets Mr. Thompson apart from all the early supporters of alternative comics is that he was in a position, as co-publisher at Fantagraphics to really make a difference.

Kim Thompson helped foster the careers of some significant players in the game: Chris Ware, Daniel Clowes, Peter Bagge and Los Bros Hernandez to name a few. And he was a scholar on the subject of comics. In the last few years, he translated the works of such notable cartoonists as Jacques Tardi, Joost Swarte and Jason. At 56, he died much too young.

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Filed under Comics News, Fantagraphics, Fantagraphics Books, Seattle

Stumptown Comics Fest 2013: MARC PALM

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.

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Filed under Alternative Comics, Anthologies, Comics, Comix, Fantagraphics, Fantagraphics Books, Intruder, Marc Palm, mini-comics, Portland, Stumptown Comics Fest, Underground Comics


The new Fantagraphics catalog is out and chock full of comics goodness. Take note of a very special offer: Your chance to own some very special mini-comics!

The press release follows:

By now you’ve probably received your 2012 Fantagraphics Ultimate Catalog of Comics in the mail. It’s jam-packed with our 2011 releases, a few upcoming 2012 releases, and a bunch of backlist stuff. It also details our exciting FBI•MINI mail-order bonus program, more about which below. And, of course, there’s a handy order form for ordering everything!

If for some reason you’re on our email list but not our snail-mail list, contact us to request your free copy, and if you just can’t wait and/or want to have it on your computer or mobile device, we’ve also made it available as an 11.5 MB PDF download.

And now a special announcement from Kim Thompson:

I always was very fond of the mini-comics format — take two to four 8 1/2 x 11 sheets, fold them once, staple, and voilà! You have an adorable little 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 comic book for mere pennies. But I could never really figure out what to do with this old-school, low-tech format.

Until now!

For this catalog season, we have created 21 “FBI•MINI” booklets (most in this format, although there are a few oddities), as premiums for customers who order books directly from us. They are available free with the purchase of their “matching” book or books — or for those customers who’ve already bought those books but are desperate to get the FBI•MINI, free with the purchase of $50 worth of any other Fantagraphics mail-order merchandise.

We’ve put together some pretty amazing stuff. For instances, there are four foreign FBI•MINIs featuring material that is being released in English for the very first time: an eight-page David B. story from the 1990s, an eight-page full-color Sibyl-Anne story by Raymond Macherot, a twelve-page collection of Joost Swarte‘s very earliest, most underground-y work — the stuff that didn’t make it into Is That All There Is? — and most amazing of all, 21 pages of an abandoned Manchette/Tardi story that has only been printed once in an obscure French collection, and never in English. That’s 49 page of prime European comics available here for the first time.

There are four sketchbook collections (an amazing gathering of Jim Woodring work preparing for Congress of the Animals, an intricate set of sketches and more by Stephen DeStefano for Lucky in Love, a collection of Kim Deitch‘s legendary pencilled conceptualization drawings… and a hilarious blurt of Prison Pit character doodles from Johnny Ryan).

There’s a non-Segar Popeye strip from the Segar era that didn’t make it into our Popeye series (since it wasn’t by Segar)… a collection of terrific “coming attractions” pages from Golden Age comics to go with Greg Sadowski’s upcoming Golden Age covers collection… a dozen great “Humorama” drawings that didn’t quite get into the Humorama book… a striking facsimile of a Maurice Tillieux original Gil Jordan page, complete with watercolored color indications on the back… and a never-before published Joe Sacco strip.

Plus 16 pages of Alex Toth art from the Setting the Standard era, but here reproduced in crisp black and white from the original photostats… Tony Millionaire‘s hilarious illustrated essay on failing to secure a TV gig for Billy Hazelnuts, complete with a preview of his upcoming Billy Hazelnuts Volume 3… a collection of the legendary Ivan Brunetti Nancy strip try-out… and 12 gorgeous full-color pages of scary Richard Sala faces.

And we’ve also got some obscurities, such as 12 pages of Bill Griffith comics that got axed from his epochal Lost and Found, a never-before-reprinted Critters-era “Nilson Groundthumper” story by Stan Sakai, and some truly Jurassic-era comics from Peter Bagge and Los Bros. Hernandez.

If any of these catch your interest (and if you’re reading this surely at least one of them will) you can click right on any of them to a more detailed listing on our website — or just click right here and all 21 will pop up for you to peruse.


Click here to see all the newest releases from Fantagraphics Books.

Keep up to the minute on all of our latest releases, events, and other hi-jinks:

FLOG! The Fantagraphics Blog (RSS)
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NOTE: Sales and special offers for Fantagraphics mailorder do not apply at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery unless otherwise noted, and vice versa.

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Filed under comic books, Comics, Fantagraphics, Fantagraphics Books, graphic novels, mini-comics

Interview: Jim Woodring

Jim Woodring is a legend in the comics art form with a signature style inspired by MAD magazine, Surrealism, Eastern spiritualism and hallucinations of frogs. His latest book, his first full-length graphic novel, “Weathercraft,” published by Fantagraphics, takes us on a Hero’s Journey with one of the most unlikely of heroes and one of Woodring’s long-running characters, Manhog, an unholy union of man and hog. In this interview, we explore Woodring’s own artist’s journey and some of his own preoccupations, real and otherworldly.

Henry Chamberlain: What would you like most to do if you were teaching a class in comics? In the documentary based on your life, “The Lobster and the Liver,” you demonstrate objects in nature, made up objects and hybrid objects. That looked like the start of an awesome comics course.

Jim Woodring: What I would most like to do if I were teaching would be to have just two or three students at a time. I’ve taught cartooning to large groups and it’s been frustrating. Everyone who wants to cartoon has a different idea of what they want to do and they have lots and lots of questions pertaining to their particular goals. Besides, I just don’t know how to teach manga or superhero cartooning. I can give them information on materials and show them inking techniques, teach storytelling concepts like shot rhythm, camera line and page breaks, and a few other things like that, but when it comes to putting these things into practice everyone has different strengths and weaknesses and it’s difficult to come through for everyone in a large class. Besides, a cartoonist has to find his own unique voice if he is going to do anything good, and that means self-invention.

As for my particular vocabulary, hybrid shapes and all that, I don’t think it would be a good idea to try to teach people to do what I do. Let them discover their own approach, it’s best for them and for the world.

HC: In a Comics Journal interview with Gary Groth, you talk about your desire to create pure comics. You explain that Frank comics are wordless in order to retain a timeless quality. And you go on to express a desire to just focus on the symbols. Isn’t there some intrinsic need to keep a narrative? Or do you foresee moving away from it altogether?

JW: Well, I don’t recall what I said in that interview, but I’m guessing I was referring to the desire to use the symbolic language in pictures rather than comics. Nobody would buy non-narrative comics that were composed entirely of symbols that only meant something to me.

HC: What do you consider to be the natural next step beyond art, beyond being an artist?

JW: What I do believe is that whatever it is that gives art its charge is something that ultimately has to be approached through direct means and not through art. Symbolism alerts you to the existence of something that cannot be reached through symbolism, but needs to be sought directly. Personally I feel the need to go from the symbol to the thing symbolized. That would be true whether I was an artist or not.

HC: There are many references in “Weathercraft” to tears in the fabric of reality. Would you share some of your thoughts on the lofty concept of reality?

JW: The notion that the world is not what it seems to us to be is ancient, and the truth of it can be directly perceived. Everything we experience that has name, form, personality, color, all the attributes of reality, comes from within. A car is not a car until we make it a car with our minds. Until then it is a conglomeration of atoms, a colorless, purposeless, nameless, nearly attributeless drop in the vast ocean of entropic mush.

HC: If you could be a fly on the wall, anywhere and in any time period to witness something, when and where would you be?

JW: I would be in Dakshineswar, India, in 1875, sitting at the feet of Sri Ramakrishna.

HC: I’m attracted to drawing rabbits. For you, frogs come up often in your work. There is the story of you dropping out of college after hallucinating frogs. Is there something you might like to say on the subject of frogs?

JW: Oddly enough, I once heard of a person who had such a phobia of frogs that she would leave a house if she heard one croaking nearby. That’s damn peculiar. I think most people find frogs attractive and some of us find them profoundly attractive. They are small, exquisitely pretty and strangely anthropomorphic. They are biologically interesting, metamorphosing as they do, and they even seem to emulate certain aspects of sadhana, sitting still for an hour at a time and singing at dusk.

HC: You’ve spoken about the Middle Eastern architecture of the Brand Library in Glendale, California. That was your refuge as a teenager and that same architecture can be found in your Frank comics. Can you speak a little more about the importance of having anchors like that library in a young life?

JW: Well, think of that beautiful building, full of books on art, in that park setting, a stone’s throw from the house of a deeply confused but artistically inclined youth. It was an oasis, a refuge, a place where my guardian spirits met. I was a bit anti-social and my life was mostly interior and, in Glendale, I knew not a single adult artist aside from my school’s art teachers, who didn’t like me very much and who weren’t doing work I found at all interesting anyway. Brand Library was like an outpost of heaven. I always walked into that building with the sense of entering a temple where God lived on the shelves.

HC: Cartoonists are something of a unique breed. I mean, a true cartoonist is someone who writes and draws. It takes quite a lot to focus and try to master two such imposing art forms. Could you say a little about that? You’ve talked about how you thought you were going to just do art and then you discovered underground comics.

JW: That’s true of many cartoonists, that they originally wanted to be easel artists and then found that cartooning offered them a better vehicle for their artistic ambitions. Justin Green and Bill Griffith come to mind. As a kid, I loved MAD, the old comic book MAD, and the early magazine format issues. Bill Elder, Wallace Wood, Jack Davis, all those guys were huge heroes of mine. I didn’t even try to copy them, I knew it was impossible. I’d drawn cartoons in my own pitiful way since I was a little shaver but I wasn’t very good and I didn’t make very many strips. I don’t think I actually completed a comic until I was in high school, and the few I did then were dismally bad. I was concentrating more on pictures and paintings, also dismally bad. I drew a few comics for money in my 20’s, still dismally bad, but the opportunities were there so I lunged at them, qualified or not. I didn’t begin to draw comics in earnest until 1986, when Gary Groth saw as copy of my self-published autojournal, JIM, and told me that, if I put comics in it, he’d publish it.

HC: Your comic story, “Too Stupid To Live,” is about an amazing mishap as a youth where you were drunk and fell asleep on some train tracks but were saved just moments before a train would have taken your life. Can you retell it?

JW: It’s a true story. My dear old friend, Ted Miller, now unfortunately gone back into the void, and I would take all-night walks, swilling whiskey, smoking cigarettes and talking trash. Sometimes we’d walk along the train tracks that ran north; sometimes we’d hop off and walk back. Anyhow, one night, we were lying on the tracks, with our heads on one rail and our ankles on the other, talking our big talk and reminding ourselves to keep alert for trains. But we both fell asleep and were awakened by the sound of an approaching whistle. Simple pleasures.

HC: Delicate and enchanting things, like pen nibs, need to be cherished and carried on. Considering your project to create the world’s largest pen nib and holder, what can you tell us about the world of pen nibs and any other time honored gems that come to mind? And how is your pen nib project coming along?

JW: I still have dreams about walking into Broad Stationers, on Brand Boulevard in Glendale, which was an old establishment when I was a youth. The shelves were full of enticing objects: a huge variety of pens, pen holders and different kinds of ink, pencil knives (like wooden pencils with a metal blade running through it instead of lead; you cut away the wood and formed the blade with a file to suit your purpose), huge sticks of red sealing wax that smelled like incense for sealing string-wrapped packages, all kinds of paper in neat packages, such as canary manifold and brass ferrules, pantographs, hektographs, listo pencils, china markers, ink eradicator and a lot more that I can’t even begin to remember. It makes me a little sad to know that the world of the old stationery has vanished.

I’m still waiting for funding for the Giant Pen, but in the meantime, I’m working out various ways to overcome the obvious problems of getting the ink to adhere and flow at that scale. I’m sure I can make it work somehow.

HC: We all wish you well, of course. Anything new on the horizon? Can we expect more gallery shows, toys from Presspop and collaborations with Bill Frisell?

JW: Well, I’m working on a new 100-page book, “The Congress of the Animals.” And, of course, I would love to work with Bill again. Something will happen. I can promise you that.

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Filed under comic books, Comics, Comix, Fantagraphics, Fantagraphics Books, Interviews, Jim Woodring