Sunday, February 19, 2006

Fantagraphics Eye for the "IT" Guys

The IT Crowd, currently available on the UK's Channel Four, is the latest sitcom from Graham Linehan, one of the writers behind two of the funniest sitcoms the UK has produced: Father Ted and Black Books. Quick-n-dirty description from the official website:
The high-rise towers of Reynholm Industries are full of go-getters, success stories, and winners... apart from [the IT department] in the basement.
While their beautiful colleagues work in fantastic surroundings, Jen, Roy and Moss lurk below ground, scorned and mocked by their co-workers as geeky losers, doomed never to make it back into normal society.
So far The IT Crowd doesn't quite live up to its predecessors, but it certainly has a similarly good toe-hold on "zany, madcap kooky-funster" humor, this time upping the "geek" factor to the Nth degree. I'll give it time, though, considering its pedigree.

So why mention it here? Take a look at the pic above (apologies for the too-tiny image; I hope to have a better one soon): The basement office, where much of the series takes place, is stuffed to the gills with swag based on characters from comics published by the fine folks at Fantagraphics and mostly produced by painstaking Presspop. Get out your magnifying glass, and you can make out [1] Chris Ware's Jimmy Corrigan vital animus; [2] Jim Woodring's Frank lithograph; [3] Peter Bagge's Buddy Bradley doll; [4] Dan Clowes' Pogeybait doll; [5] Kaz's Smoking Cat (I think); and possibly more.

Also check the other items of geek-cred, like the Fair Use Has a Posse sticker on Roy's desk, and (not pictured) an icon of His Holiness, the most holy Flying Spaghetti Monster (Blessed be His Noodly Appendage, Ramen).

I can just imagine Gary Groth, Kim Thompson, and Eric Reynolds pulling up outside the office building, running down the stairs, and getting to work....

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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Yoe! Here's the Love!

What better day to start a blog called "Arf Lovers" than Valentine's Day?

That Craig Yoe, he's no love-struck fool; he's in love with comics for the long haul, as his series of "art+comics" books, Arf, makes abundantly clear. Arf Lovers promises to pass along new comics curiosities every day; and, as Craig himself is one of the most curious folks I know, I'm sure we won't be disappointed.

Arf Lovers previews both the first book in the Arf series, Modern Arf (index at and the newest entry, Arf Museum; from the on-line preview, it looks like we need this one on our shelves here right-quick. With treats like never-before seen Yellow Kid paintings; a true-life comics story by Mort Walker concerning Roy Lichtenstein; Art Young in Hell; and the debut of Craig's new character, Mr. Smart-Ass, Arf Museum is bound to be another kornucopia of kwality.

Craig might not yet have covered Victorian Valentines in Arf, but it's probably only a matter of time. Given Arf Museum's section on "gorillas and damsels in distress," I'm sure he'll be interested in just whose job it was to "lead apes in Hell"...

Above: Portrait of Craig Yoe by the late Kelly Freas.

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Saturday, February 11, 2006

Books by Our Friends

In this update, we're focusing on ten (10!) newly added books by folks we know. Most of these are pretty recent; a couple were overlooked in earlier updates. All, however, are highly recommended. If your bookshelves are not already graced by these tomes, well, what are you waiting for?

Beaty, Bart. Fredric Wertham and the Critique of Mass Culture. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2005. ISBN 157806810X (hardcover), 1578068193 (paper).

Gravett, Paul. Graphic Novels: Stories to Change Your Life. London: Aurum, 2005. 192pp. ISBN 1845130685 (paper). New York: Collins Design, 2005. ISBN 0060824255 (paper).

Gravett, Paul. Manga: Sixty Years of Japanese Comics. London: Lawrence King / New York: Harper Design International, 2004. 176pp. ISBN 1856693910 (paper).

Hatfield, Charles. Alternative Comics: An Emerging Literature. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2005. 182pp. ISBN 1578067189 (hardcover), 1578067197 (paper).

Heer, Jeet and Kent Worcester, eds. Arguing Comics: Literary Masters on a Popular Medium. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2004. 176pp. ISBN 1578066867 (cloth), 1578066875 (paper).

Lent, John A., ed. Illustrating Asia: Comics, Humor Magazines, and Picture Books. Honolulu: University of Hawaii P, 2001. 249pp. ISBN 0824824717 (cloth).

McLaughlin, Jeff, ed. Comics as Philosophy. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2005. 256pp. ISBN 1578067944 (cloth).

Pilcher, Tim and Brad Brooks. The Essential Guide to World Comics. Foreword by Dave Gibbons. London: Collins & Brown, 2005. 320pp. ISBN 1843403005.

Sabin, Roger, and Teal Triggs, eds. Below Critical Radar: Fanzines and Alternative Comics from 1976 to Now. Hove: Slab-O-Concrete, [2002]. 112pp. ISBN 1899866477 (paper).

Yoe, Craig. Modern Arf: Artists + Models: The Naked Truth. Seatle, WA: Fantagraphics, 2005. 120pp. ISBN 1560976292 (paper).

(BTW: If we've forgotten anyone, our apologies: The office is a mess. Just let us know and we'll get the info up ASAP.)


Friday, February 10, 2006

Comic Books + Poetry + NPR = "Funny Books"

The Writer's Almanac is a daily radio show hosted by Garrison Keillor. Each day GK (nice initials!) reads brief biographies of literary figures as well as a poem. Today's installment included a poem I'd not known before, "Funny Books" by Robert Morgan. It's a nostalgic look at the writer's atom-age childhood love of that most forbidden of all fruit, comic books. Here's a brief taste:
                                      I crouched
in almost dark and swilled the words
that soared in their balloons and bulbs
of grainy breath into my pulse,
into the stratosphere of my
imagination, reaching Mach
and orbit speed, escape velocity
just at the edge of Sputnik's age,
in stained glass windows of the page.
To read the rest of the poem, click here. Or you can listen to Keillor's dulcet tones here.

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Saturday, February 04, 2006

More Books Added to

Here's another batch of new book entries at As always, each entry includes the book's table of contents as well as a link to purchase the book at Remember, buying books from these links helps support My sincere thanks to those of you who've already done so!

And now, the newest entries:
Callahan, Bob, ed. The New Smithsonian Book of Comic-Book Stories: From Crumb to Clowes. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Books, 2004. 398pp. ISBN 588341836 (hc). Buy It!

Daniels, Les, Chip Kidd, and Geoff Spear. The Golden Age of DC Comics: 365 Days. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2004. n.p. ISBN 0810949695 (hc). Buy It!

Greene, Doyle. Mexploitation Cinema: A Critical History of Mexican Vampire, Wrestler, Ape-Man and Similar Films, 1957-1977. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2005. 192pp. ISBN 0786422017 (paper). *O* Buy It!

Miller, Steve. Developing and Promoting Graphic Novel Collections. Teens @ the library series. NY: Neal-Schuman P, 2005. 130pp. ISBN 1555704611 (paper). Buy It!

Wood, Susan. The Poison Maiden & the Great Bitch: Female Sterotypes in Marvel Superhero Comics. Baltimore, MD: T-K Graphics, 1974. Rpt.: Essays on Fantastic Literature no. 5. San Bernardino, CA: The Borgo Press, 1989. 28pp. ISBN 0893705373. Buy It!
Stay tuned - I'll post more entries and other announcements here soon!


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Geektasm Alert: Free Superman Poster

Dateline Metropolis: As part of the state of Illinois' "Discover Offbeat Illinois" campaign, the IL Dept. of Commerce and Economic Opportunity is offering a free poster (several choices) to anyone who requests one. (The offer might be for US residents only; I didn't read the fine print). The poster touting the city of Metropolis' Favorite Son is pictured above (I've already ordered mine, natch); there's also one for the Tallest Man in the World, in Alton; Berwyn's Car-Kabob; Rockford's Jane the T-Rex (somebody order this one for me! Thanks, Kate and Queen!); and more.

To see all the posters, click here. To order your own, click here.

Super-special thanks to sister-in-law extraordinaire Alex "Scoop" Gillen for the tip. Here's another tip: See the world in new ways by visiting Phosgraphia, her ultra-cool photo-blog!

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Past Shame Rises from the Grave, Zombie-Like, to Taunt Me Again

Ah, the World-Wide Internets: Where information never dies, it just gets a new URL.

I should have known that no matter how many times I glowingly name-check Tom Spurgeon and his essential Comics Reporter blog, it would only be a matter of time before he got around to re-posting his scathing review of the only mini-comic I ever produced. He's been adding lots of his old reviews to CR, but I'd hoped that this one (which he wrote for an on-line column entitled "You Send It, We'll Review It") was obscure enough to escape his notice; ha ha on me. Herewith, a few select quotations from his review of my very own Gene Gene's Comics Machine #1 [Aug. 1997]:
This is a good comic of the type by people who have no business doing comics...

The nostalgia doesn't really go beyond tedious recollection...

Kannenberg fails on all sort of craft levels he doesn't even pretend to engage...
And that's not including this tidbit, which I was gonna use on the cover of GGCM #2 (fortunately never produced): [S]adly, he's no cartoonist.

I kid, I kid: To be fair, the review's a bit more balanced than the above quotes (all genuine!) might suggest; and to be honest, Tom's critiques are really pretty much dead on the mark. I did the comics in that mini [A] to see what it was like to make comics, and [B] mostly as contributions to a certain Wombat-themed zine (mentioned in Roger Sabin and Teal Triggs' essential Below Critical Radar: Fanzines and Alternative Comics From 1976 to Now).

Even though it didn't lead to fame or fortune, or even to talent, making GGCM increased my interest in - and enthusiasm for - the comics form. I'd thought a lot about comics as a reader; but stepping behind the curtain for the first time, I got to think about comics as a creator, like all those dozens (at least) of decisions that need to be made per panel, or what story "beats" are most important to illustrate, or even how hard it is to draw somebody sitting in a chair. (The astute reader will note that there are no chairs in GGCM #1.)

So thanks, Tom, for reminding me about this little learning experience of mine. All's forgiven; in fact, everyone reading this should immediately purchase a book he co-wrote: Stan Lee and the Rise and Fall of the American Comic Book. And to any masochists out there: I recently found a small stash of Gene Gene's Comics Machine #1s, and they're still available at last millennium's cover price: one USAmerican dollar (Cheap!) or something in trade. Contact me, and I'll hook you up with the pain.

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