Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Gosh! Authority 22/03/11

First things first: the Gosh! Exclusive Demo TP Volume 2 Bookplate Edition has arrived and is now nestled comfortably next to last week’s iZombie TP Bookplate Edition and the rest of our steadily expanding collection of signed books. If you didn’t order one, that’s fine – there are lots to go round so just form an orderly queue. If you did pre-order one you’ll be hearing from me in a bit. You know the drill.

Speaking of signed books, Arne Bellstorf popped in last week and signed – and even sketched in a few, too! – a bunch of his Stuart Sutcliffe/Astrid Kirchherr biography which I rabbited on about in a Gosh! Authority of yore. Come an’ get ‘em.

Suddenly Something Happened GN is a book by Québécois Jimmy Beaulieu, his first to be published in English after eight in French. It’s the definitive collection of his autobiographical work – collecting two previous award-winning books along with loads of new pages. It’s about being a comic artist, travelling to comic festivals around the world and the generally quiet existence of a cartoonist, full of idiosyncratic life moments and the like. With that as its premise I assumed the name Suddenly Something Happened was going to be ironic in a Joseph Heller Something Happened way (in which nothing ever did) but judging from various reviews this is not the case.

“Like the kick turn that allows a championship swimmer to thunder down the length of the pool without changing the basics of his stroke, that middle section of Suddenly Something Happened provides Beaulieu with an energy that forces the reader from their seat. It's a strong document in a small literature describing the subtle ways in which we all quietly grow up.”

Beaulieu is interviewed on Inkstuds (a radio show about comics) and if you’ve not seen his work before I heartily recommend a visit to his website. I can confidently say the pictures are wonderful, but it’s all in French and I’m borderline-retarded when it comes to other languages, so he might be talking nonsense for all I know.

This blog is steadily turning into one comic shop employee quietly humping the leg of Seattle-based publisher Fantagraphics but they are excelling themselves lately, and their line of Jacques Tardi translations is one of their greatest efforts to date. Le Démon Des Glaces or The Arctic Marauder is a 1972 satirical, Jules Verne-esque steampunk tale about a ship in the Arctic Ocean discovering an abandoned vessel.

“It’s a wickedly sly take on classic turn-of-the-century pulp adventures that nevertheless manages to both tweak and evoke those stories. It is, in short, a blast to read,” says Comicbook Resources. Expect mad scientists, monsters from the deep, futuristic machinery in an 1899 futuristic way, and the most purple of purple prose. Here’s a PDF preview, in which you can see the result of Tardi’s efforts to illustrate the comic in the same style as the woodcut engravings of the era. It looks amazing but was apparently such a pain in the arse he swore never to do it again.

It’s been years since I last read Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer, but I’ve got a renewed interest in Ben Katchor having read Michael Chabon’s (yes, him again, sorry) essay about the man in Maps & Legends. Katchor has an innate ability to build a world with a poetic logic not found anywhere else, and Chabon regards him as the creator of the last great American comic strip. The Comics Journal have an excellent review written by a man who can probably recite the dictionary, and I like this paragraph so much I’ve swiped it wholesale:

“In the same fashion as his Julius Knipl collections, The Cardboard Valise is a catalog of made-up occupations, obsessions, and cultural artifacts just too picayune to be plausible, but only just: a seaside cellphone stand that offers paying callers the chance to hear the sounds of the shore for ten minutes at a time, courtesy of employees who walk to the water and hold the phones aloft; an heir to a reference-work empire who sells off the famous family name since its value outstrips that of the imprint’s accumulated, outmoded publications — The Marrowbone Backseat Bible of Contraceptive Techniques, The Marrowbone Directory of Commonly Dialed Wrong Numbers, The Marrowbone Desk Reference to Nauseating Food Combinations. In one bravura strip alone, a traveler discovers a panoply of unique customs observed by the residents of his island destination: black-market traders of partially eaten toast, discarded exercise equipment worshiped in fertility rituals, hotel employees who can deduce the personal traits of their guests from the dents they leave in wire hangers and who brag about the colds they catch from their charges, “an unwritten encyclopedia of postural gestures used to solicit tips.” Together these quotidian flights of fancy suggest a world of possibilities that are at once inspiringly limitless (cumulatively) and depressingly limited (individually) — a world, in other words, much like our own.”

There’s an excerpt here in an annoying video format, and an interview with the man him self at Comicbook Resources.

Lewis Carroll created an entirely other world in Alice in Wonderland, and you can pick up a copy of the Tove Jansson version this week. It’s been around since 1966 but this is the first time it’s been available in English (well, this particular book’s been around for a bit but it’s the first time we’ve had it).

You can see some images at Crooked Timber along with a review of an older edition, ex-library and well-thumbed by the jam encrusted fingers of youth.

When John Matthews was writing The Chronicles of Arthur, a graphic novel aimed at kids between 9 and 12, he decided he wanted to do a grown-up version based on his favourite King Arthur book Le Mort D’Arthur. SelfMadeHero picked up the idea and teamed Matthews with illustrator Will Sweeney (Tales From Greenfuzz) and together they churned out 600 pages of Arthurian legend. They plan to do four volumes and talk about it in this interview. I know I keep saying it but SelfMadeHero books do smell the best.

Greg Rucka’s latest creator-owned series is collected in hardcover this Wednesday. If you didn’t catch it in its floppy form here’s what’s quite literally in store for you:

"Stumptown is – I suppose the bluntest way to put it is, if Queen and Country was me using a childhood love of espionage and things like Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and James Bond and Ian Mackintosh's Sandbaggers, then Stumptown comes out of the childhood love of The Hardy Boys and The Rockford Files, Simon and Simon and Magnum, P.I. That's what this is. When I was in third grade, I would run home – literally run home from school – and if I could make it in time I could get home and the put the TV on in time to catch the answering machine message at the start of The Rockford Files.”

There’s a great interview with Rucka over at Comics Alliance in which he discusses Phillip Marlowe and the history of the smartass private investigator in general. I bet I can guess what Rucka wanted to be when he grew up.

Dungeon Quest Volume 2 by Joe Daly is out, giving you another installment of nerdy stories inspired by role-playing games, which you can see previewed at Fantagraphics. Daly’s interviewed here in which it is revealed that he doesn’t have the lactating boobs he adorned himself with in an autobiographical comicbook moment.

Johnny Ryan, similarly absurd, gives you New Character Parade: 120 new pages of full-page fart gags, probably. The Comics Journal goes into excruciating depth in their review. Incidentally, while looking for pictures of this one on Ryan’s site I was disturbed by this superfan’s armpit tattoo. Um. You’re welcome.

Draw Nexus: Tips and Techniques pretty much does what it says on the tin – model sheets of the entire Nexus cast, tips on figure construction and the human head, as well as hardware like space ships and futuristic interiors – all put together by the remarkable Steve Rude. Rude himself got some pretty harsh tips off ol’ Alex Toth back in the day. These scans have been floating about the Internet for a while now, and while I tweeted it I don’t recall ever putting them in the Gosh! Blog. Worth a look. “Think! Think! Think! — Before you draw, while you draw, and after! And redraw if it doesn’t work!”

As for comics, here’s what’s heading your way:

The recently married Kieron Gillen (congrats from all of us!) of Phonogram fame gives you the Captain America and the Batroc One-Shot."I just found myself looking at Batroc and thinking, 'So what makes that guy get up every day?' He's a character who gets punched a lot and people tend to treat him quite lightly. So how does that affect his head?' I wondered what his mindset was.” He tells CbR all about it (Gillen that is, not Batroc in some weird fourth-wall therapy session) and there’s a preview floating about too.

Lorna: Relic Wrangler is a one-shot story by Micah S. Harris (Heaven’s War) and Loston Wallace (Batman: The Animated Series) about a Southern belle Lara Croft in cut-off jeans. Gosh! Favourite Darwyn Cooke provides the cover and Wallace’s illustrations are equally lovely. You can see them alongside this interview with Harris, and Boing Boing has a regular preview for you too. If it goes well there’s more in the pipeline!

Issue #1s this week include Thor #620.1 because it’s another of Marvel’s engineered Point One jumping-on points. Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning do words and Mark Brooks (Dark Reign: Young Avengers) does pictures. Preview at Comicbook Resources.

Jonathan Hickman’s FF #1 lands on Wednesday, picking up after the death of the Human Torch. He fills you in on the new Future Foundation and their new monochrome outfits at Marvel, and you can see a preview here.

Clive Barker dusts off an old idea this week and co-writes a new ongoing series beginning with Hellraiser #1. Barker himself has only been involved in the whole Hellraiser thing twice: the original Hellbound Heart novel, and then when he wrote and directed the first of the films. In a way this is the first official Hellraiser continuity since then (penned by Barker, is what I mean – Neil Gaiman, Mike Mignola, and Alex Ross have all had a go over the years). Shock Till You Drop have posted an interview with Barker’s co-writer on the series too.

And lastly, if you’re following X-23 be sure to pick up a copy of this week’s Daken Dark Wolverine #7 because it’s a crossover. Preview here.

Events-wise, don’t forget the amazing Posy Simmonds is appearing this Thursday night at the French Institute to discuss Gustave Flaubert. I mentioned it a while ago so maybe you’ve already got a ticket, but if you haven’t – grab one now!

Man at the Crossroads Paul Gravett is doing a tag-team talk and Q&A with Ed Hillyer aka ILYA at the Westminster Reference Library, which the library blurb-writer hyperbolically boasts “will be of interest to anyone vaguely interested in the medium.” Take your questions and say hello, they’re a lovely bunch. Details here, which will be of interest to anyone vaguely interested in going.

-- Hayley