Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Press Release: Erotic Comics: A Graphic History (Volume 2) - From The 1970s to the Present Day

Shameless Self-Promotion Dep't: Here's a press release for the latest book I assisted on. It's pretty self-explanatory...
Erotic Comics: A Graphic History (Volume 2)
From The 1970s to the Present Day

By Tim Pilcher
(Foreword by Alan Moore)

Picking up from where the international best-selling Erotic Comics: A Graphic History (Volume 1) left off, Volume 2 reveals how European, American and Asian artists have explored the possibility of the form in the years since the explosion of the Sixties' underground comix.

Erotic Comics: A Graphic History - Volume 2 examines how the form has become an international publishing phenomenon by showcasing artwork that has inflamed desires, incensed censors, and caused controversy.

This provocative title covers everything: the erotic comics explosion in America in the mid-’80s; the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender comics scene; UK and European erotic comic creators since the '70s; and the Japanese hentai phenomenon. The future of erotic comics online is also explored in this fascinating and surprising volume.

In the first survey of its kind in over 20 years, Erotic Comics: A Graphic History (Volume 2) completes this fascinating two-part chronicle with previously unpublished, rare and out-of-print material, featuring insights from key artists, editors, and publishers. Fully illustrated with stunning, rare, and seldom-seen art by Howard Cruse, Gengoroh Tagame, Melinda Gebbie, Hunt Emerson, Howard Chaykin, Giovanna Casotto (whose work graces the cover), Tom of Finland, Milo Manara, Junko Mizuno, and many other top erotic cartoonists. The informative text provides a sexy, intriguing, and entertaining tour through the origins of an often-overlooked art form and comic book genre.

The book is written by Tim Pilcher, with additional research by Gene Kannenberg, Jr, and a witty and insightful foreword by Alan Moore.

What the press have said about Volume 1:
"Clearly, this very tasty-looking coffee-table book has been lovingly put together by a devotee of adult comic art... This reviewer is eagerly anticipating Volume 2... A mighty impressive package all round." - Desire magazine

"Tim Pilcher knows a thing or three about comics... the quality of this latest offering was never really in any doubt... Pilcher's book does not disappoint.… (His) extremely readable copy puts artists and sub-genres into context with a confidence borne of depth of knowledge. This is enthusiast writing at its tightest and best, and your reward for reading the words that run around the pictures will be to discover all kinds of fascinating stuff you never knew about your favourite artists... " -

"...Well written, well researched, and a well considered fun read, with a lightness of touch that had a really neat educational tone." - John Higgins, comic artist and
Watchmen colourist.

"...More than just a visual history, the book reads like a labor of love; images from pre-Depression nudie comics to modern-day Mexican
sensacionales are presented along with insightful essays that make the book perfectly suitable for a coffee-table centerpiece..." - Complex Magazine: The Original Buyer's Guide for Men

"Tim Pilcher's titillating new title… certainly covers the territory." -

"Sexy? Yes. Erotic? Yes. Prurient? Well, yes. And your point? We're all adults here, and this reading material is a delight. It's art, I tell ya, it's art!" - Martin Zimmerman,
About the Author:
Tim Pilcher has worked in and around the comics industry for over twenty years as a writer and editor. He is the author of Erotic Comics: A Graphic History (Volume 1), co-author of The Essential Guide to World Comics and The Complete Cartooning Course, and has contributed to numerous other publications including, Comix: The Underground Revolution, 500 Comicbook Action Heroes, The Slings and Arrows Comic Guide (1st Edition), 500 Essential Graphic Novels and the forthcoming War Comics: A Graphic History. He co-founded Les Cartoonistes Dangereux, a comic-book publishing house that released a range of original graphic novels, including the critically acclaimed White Death by Robbie Morrison and Charlie Adlard. He has worked as assistant editor at DC Comics; Vertigo imprint, and served as associate editor at Comics International, the UK's only comic book industry trade paper. He lives in Brighton, England.

Gene Kannenberg, Jr., is a respected historian of comics and the director of ComicsResearch.org, a centralized directory of comics scholarship that focuses on book-length works and monographs about comic books and strips. He is the author of 500 Essential Graphic Novels. He lives in Albany, New York.

Alan Moore is the world's most famous comic book writer and the author of seminal classics such as Watchmen, V for Vendetta, From Hell and the erotic comic masterpiece Lost Girls. He lives in Northampton, England.

Tim Pilcher is available for interviews, articles and general feedback. You can contact him on: tim.pilcher@ntlworld.com, pilcher@ilex-press.com and on +44 (0)7986 995 938. His blog, Sex, Drugs and Comic Books, is at: http://sexdrugsandcomicbooks.blogspot.com

[Stateside inquirers, please feel free also to contact Gene Kannenberg, Jr.]

If you would like to reproduce any images, or require a review copy of either book, please drop Tim a line stating what publication the review is for, and when it will appear.

Tim Pilcher will chairing an Erotic Comics Panel at the ICA in London on Sunday 23 November '08 at 4pm, along with artists Erich Von Gotha, Lynn Paula Russell, Garry Leach and Oh, Wicked Wanda! creator and writer Frederick Mullally.

Tim Pilcher will also be attending the 36th Festival International de la Bande Dessinée in Angoulême, France (29 Jan.–1 Feb. ’09) and the New York Comic Con (6-8 Feb. ’09).

Erotic Comics: A Graphic History (Volume 2) is published by Ilex Press in the UK on 8 January 2009 and by Abrams ComicArts in the USA, on 1 March 2009 (192pp Hardcover £20/$29.95)

Erotic Comics: A Graphic History (Volume 1) is published by Ilex Press in the UK, and Abrams in the USA, and is available now (192pp Hardcover £20/$29.95)


Erotic Comics: A Graphic History (Volume 1) has just been banned by Australian customs from entering the country. Customs have demanded that a special large sticker with an "M" on it MUST be placed on the cover -- indicating that the book is for "Mature Readers" -- otherwise the books will be prevented from being sold in Australia. Tim Pilcher said, "I find it ludicrous and risible that the Australian authorities need a big sticker to point out the book is for 'adults only'. Surely the word 'Erotic' in the title gives it away? Perhaps they got confused with the word 'Comics' and couldn't believe that adults read sequential literature!"

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Monday, August 25, 2008

New Publication: 500 Essential Graphic Novels

I'm proud to announce the publication of my first book, 500 Essential Graphic Novels. Well, by "my" I mean that it has my name on the cover, and that I did a lot of the work on it. However, I can't help but acknowledge the contributions of many other writers (see the book for the full list, in addition to some unacknowledged but highly appreciated work by über-pals Mike Rhode and Charles Hatfield), and of my editor Tim Seelig of ILEX Press.

Here's the description from Collins Design, the book's US publisher:
500 Essential Graphic Novels is an all-in-one guide to this exciting form of visual literature.

Including more than 350 authors and 400 artists, this lush volume contains an essential mix of some of the finest visually-stunning stories of our time. From politically-charged non-fiction sagas to imaginative fantasy tales, this ultimate guide has something to satisfy everyone's taste.

The first of its kind, this book focuses on each graphic novel separately, honing in on art technique, style and prose, plus an age rating system so parents will know what is suitable for their children. Chapters are divided by genre, complete with individual plot synopses and star-scaled reviews for each book, providing the reader with a concise and balanced understanding of today's best graphic novels.
You can visit our bibliography entry for 500 Essential Graphic Novels to see a list of the book's contents and other information. I hope to have some "web extras" to go along with the book soon.

(On that page you'll also find our customary Amazon.com ordering link. If you can't find the book at your local shop, please consider using this link to buy the book - or any other book listed and linked to at ComicsResearch.org, for that matter. I receive a small [very!] chunk of change from your purchases, money that helps offset the costs of running this website. End of commercial.)

Special thanks go to my pal Tim Pilcher for nominating me for the gig in the first place; you might recall that I assisted Tim on his book Erotic Comics: A Graphic History from Tijuana Bibles to Zap Comix. He also runs the blog Sex, Drugs & Comic Books. Also, here's a shout-out to über-friends Brad & Liz Brooks for introducing me to Tim in the first place; Brad's the co-author with Tim of The Essential Guide to World Comics, and Brad & Liz run Sequential Design. Finally, massive thanks and love to K. A. Laity, who had to endure not just me but also a house even more covered in books than is our crazy norm.

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Book Review Publication: "The Ten-Cent Plague"

"The Not-So-Untold Story of the Great Comic-Book Scare,"
my review essay of David Hajdu's recent book The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America, has been published in the May 23rd, 2008 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education (specifically, in The Chronicle Review, "The Magazine of Ideas"). Unfortunately, you can only read the article if you or your academic institution subscribe to the CHE. Once a sufficient length of time passes, though, I'll be able to post the full text - or a much longer version - here.

It was an honor for this independent scholar (i.e., me) to be invited to contribute to the Chronicle. I've now officially added my voice to Plague's incredibly large chorus of reviewers. Be sure to check out our
Ten-Cent Plague information page for more information about the book and its reception.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Now Available - Erotic Comics: A Graphic History, vol. 1

This book went on sale today in finer comics shops - and in bookstores as well, I think. I'll revise this post later on, because I've got more to say about it - including the "with" credit on the cover :-)

Massive Thanks to Tim Pilcher for the opportunity to help with the book. And to the all-knowing Mike "ComicsDC" Rhode for the "on-sale" tip earlier this afternoon.

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Publication: Essay on Peanuts Parodies

Delayed Notification Dep't: The academic journal Studies in American Humor published my essay "Chips Off the Ol' Blockhead: Evidence of Influence in Peanuts Parodies" a while back (New Series 3 no. 14 [2006]: 91-103). (Actually, I think the issue wasn't published until 2007, although I could be mistaken.)

Like this announcement, the piece itself is a bit dated, but still worth it (if I do say so myself). I originally wrote the essay at the request of my good friend and mentor M. Thomas Inge, for a special memorial session on Charles Schulz and Peanuts at the Modern Language Association's 2000 convention. I was honored to be asked and to be able to discuss my deep admiration for Peanuts in a public forum. And public it was: Given people's general love of Peanuts, and Schulz's then-recent passing, the panel attracted a standing-room-only crowd. Lots more people than this then-graduate student had ever addressed before!

The panel generated lots of discussion, both during and after. The New York Times even featured an article about the panel (Hey Mom, I'm in the Times, I've made it!). Sadly, not everyone thought the panel was appropriate for a scholarly venue; nevertheless, I proudly wear our condemnation by the "research group" Accuracy in Academia as a badge of honor ("Sanity MIA at MLA Panels").

Finally: Although I wouldn't have written this essay without Tom Inge's invitation, I never could have written this essay if it weren't for my younger brother John. When we were kids, he bought practically every Peanuts book ever offered by the Scholastic Book Club, the grade school kid's best friend. Thanks for letting me read all your books over chicken soup at lunch, bro!

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Publication: Conversations with Art Spiegelman

In 2002 I was invited to interview Art Spiegelman at the International Comic Arts Festival; the event was co-sponsored by the Small Press Expo. I admit to being a bit nervous at the time: It was the first time I'd interviewed anyone, let alone someone I'd written about in my dissertation. Doing so in front of a large crowd didn't help, either. But Spiegelman certainly did; he's not just a ready speaker, but very articulate about his (and others') work.

I made sure to record the interview (thanks for the help, Mark Nevins!), which was fortunate. Joseph Witek, author of Comic Books as History, later contacted me about including a transcript of the interview in his upcoming volume for the University Press of Mississippi entitled Art Spiegelman: Conversations.
The book was published earlier this year, and it's quite an impressive volume. It'll prove to be a valuable book to scholars, of course. But Spiegelman's gift for analysis (and of gab!) makes the book a great read for anyone interested in comics as an art form. It's a worthy addition to UPM's essential Conversations with Comics Artists Series. (Naturally, I'd say all of this even if I hadn't contributed to it.)

Click here for ComicsResearch.org's listing for
Art Spiegelman: Conversations.

Image: Photo from The Comics Journal's coverage of ICAF/SPX. Although I had written for TCJ for many years, the caption-writer obviously felt that given the choice between identifying me or Spiegelman's cigarette, the smoke was the more well-known participant.

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Sunday, November 20, 2005

Comic Book Artist's Will Eisner Tribute: Some Things are Worth Waiting For

Thanks both to a phone call from pal The joey Zone and the fine folks at the Will Eisner Discussion List, I learned yesterday that the long-awaited Will Einser tribute issue of Comic Book Artist magazine was now available in finer comics shops.

Eisner, who passed away January 3, 2005, was one of the most important and influential cartoonists this country has produced, with a career spanning the growth of the modern comic book. From his 1940s creation of the newspaper comic-book insert, featuring The Spirit, to his later kick-starting the "graphic novel" movement in the 1970s, and beyond, Esiner's impact on comics can't be overstated. Rather than go into detail here, I'll point you to his website's short but comprehensive biography. More information about Eisner may be found at my ComicsResearch.org; watch for even more there soon.

Kate and I caught a glimpse of the issue at one of Houston's Bedrock City Comics shops, and believe me, this looks like a true "must-have" for anyone interested in Eisner's work or even in comics in general. It's chock-full of interviews with - and essays & artwork by - dozens and dozens of cartoonists, writers, editors, publishers, friends, students, disciples, and more.

Full disclosure: Thanks to editor Jon B. Cooke's prodding, I've got a page-long essay in this tome myself; I also helped out a bit in the editing department, for which I was amazed to learn that Jon rewarded me with the title "Special Contributing Editor." Yowza!

I'll post a more in-depth review once I've received my own copy; but I wanted to alert folks here about it now, since it's sure to disappear from the shelves quickly. At nearly 200 pages (including several gorgeous color sections) for only about $15, it's a steal - or a sound investment, depending on your temperament. Pick up a copy at your local comics shop, or order on-line via Top Shelf Comix. And several books written, edited, or worked on by Messr. Cooke are available via Amazon.com.

Above: Dave Gibbons' beautiful, respectful cover to CBA v2 no6.

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Thursday, September 15, 2005

Enormous Nemo in Slumberland!

I've long been a fan of Winsor McCay, one of the most acomplished cartoonists of the early 20th century and a pioneer in animation, to boot. I'm so much of a fan, in fact, that one chapter of my dissertation dealt specifically with McCay. "Little Nemo in Slumberland," undoubtedly his best-known comic strip work, has been hailed by readers and critics for decades, leadingto severalreprintings. But none of these collections, no matter how carefully selected or produced they might be, have managed fully to convey one of the most impressive aspects of the comic: McCay's exploitation of the entire newspaper page to produce both stunning, expansive vistas and delicate, detailed miniature images - often on the same page. Until now.

This month saw the publication of Little Nemo: So Many Splendid Sundays (Sunday Press Books, $120), a book so absolutely stunning in every detail that it literally left me speechless. Editor Peter Maresca has produced what can only be called a labor of love: a hardcover, full-scale collection of 110 "Nemo" pages, commemorating the strip's centennial. Yes, full-scale: a full 16x21 inches, the original publication size. (At right you can compare the book's scale to the Dover "Little Nemo in the Palace of Ice" reprint collection, itself a deluxe, over-sized paperback.) The book also contains informative essays by editor Maresca, along with brief essays and comments from comics historians like Bill Blackbeard, R.C. Harvey, art spiegelman, Thierry Smolderen, John Canemaker, and more. (Full Disclosure Dep't: The book's only potential "flaw" is the presence of two brief essays by yours truly. In all seriousness, it's an incredible honor to be included in this volume; thank you, Peter, and extra-special thanks to e-mail pal Miron Murcury, for making this happen!)

But it's the careful attention paid to the comics themselves that really recommends this book. Each strip has been digitally "remastered," if you will, from original newspaper tearsheets, all with the intent of reproducing for us moderns the experience of reading these strips as they originally appeared 100 years ago. The effort has paid off handsomely, to say the very least. I've read all of the strips here before, some of them literally dozens of times; but seeing them again in this book was like discovering brand-new territory, an oasis in a desert you'd never before realized you inhabited. To be able to linger over these images, absorbing all of the minute details in the drawing and the often amazing subtleties of the coloring, is a luxury I'd never dreamed of. I can't begin to comprehend all of the technical issues Maresca had to confront to produce such an exquisite volume; but whatever he went through, it was more than worth it. And I'm far from alone in my opinion; be sure to read these testimonials as well.

Fans of comic art the world over owe him a debt of gratitude which none of us can ever repay individually. A book this significant belongs in every library in the land. (Perhaps libraries have shelves large enough to hold the book - I don't!) If you're a bit strapped for cash but want to experience this book (and you know you do), beg, urge, cajole, pester, or otherwise convince your library to order a copy. You'll thank them, you'll thank yourself, and readers with exquisite taste will thank the library for at least another 100 years. Oh, and while you're at it, be sure to pick up one of the spiffy 2005-2006 15-month calendars for yourself.

One last thought: I've included "Little Nemo" in many of the courses I've taught over the years. After explaining to my students that the original printed pages were about twice the size of the Dover edition, I've confessed that I truly envied the strip's original readers - especially the kids of, say, six years old - who had the privilege to almost literally "fall into" Nemo's world, who could have their entire field of vision filled with McCay's imagination. Today, reading Little Nemo: So Many Splendid Sundays, I finally felt like I was six years old.

Update, 22 September: Parts of this review are now posted at the Sunday Press website, under "testimonials". Wow, great company to be in!

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