Though comic fandom's often held to be an unwelcoming place for girls, one correspondent remembers fondly her trip to the 1978 San Diego Comic-Con, when she was only 8 years old. Other females were few and far between—but one of them was Wendy Pini, who embodied the classic fantasy persona of Red Sonja—and who had a story of her own to tell.
comics are an infinitely entertaining and moving series of comics about a world in which every fable, legend and belief of humanity has been chased from the worlds of fantasy to exile on Earth, hiding in a secret side-street in Manhattan. The chaser is The Adversary, an evil emperor, and his numberless goblin shock-troops. This is such rich material, as it allows for tellings and retellings of every beloved story of humanity.
In Peter & Max: A Fables Novel, writer Bill Willingham tells a key piece of the story in prose form, and proves that he's every bit as wonderful a prose-writer as he is a comics-writer. Peter and Max is the story of two brothers, Peter (Piper, also Pumpkin Eater) and Max (the Pied Piper), who grow estranged from one another on the eve of the Adversary's invasion of their homeworld, and lose themselves in a blood-soaked Black Forest, where they are both fired by the crucible of war and magic into men whose innocence will never be recovered.
Max is the villain here, jealous of Peter's inheritance of Frost, the magic flute of their father. Max acquires Fire, another powerful magic flute, from Frau Totenkinder, the evil witch of the Black Forest, and he and Fire warp each other into something monstrous.
Peter, meanwhile, is orphaned in Hamelin, where he becomes an accomplished thief, escaping from the worst circumstances with the help of Frost, and forever pining for his lost love, Bo Peep, disappeared into the evil woods. Read the rest
Ottawa artist Howie Tsui paints fantastical, evil, and beautiful landscapes of monsters, ghosts, demons, and deities. He tells me that his new large paintings, "Horror Fables," are in the form of Ming Dynasty scrolls and were influenced by "a variety of dark subjects, including Asian ghost stories, Buddhist hell scrolls, Hong Kong vampire films, neo-conservative propaganda, and twentieth-century genocides such as the Nanking massacre." Howie Tsui Read the rest
Update:: OK, I'm an idiot. This sure seemed
like the ending of the story, but apparently, they're only halfway through. Eek!
One of the most rewarding moments of my winter holiday was the morning I found to read the final installment in Fables, Bill Willingham (and company)'s long-running, brilliant graphic novel series.
Over 11 volumes (plus a few very fine spin-offs), Fables has treated us to a cracking story about the exiled community of mythological creatures living in secret in Manhattan -- a motley cadre of legendary figures who were chased from their homeland by an evil emporer bent on multiversal conquest. From Sleeping Beauty to Little Boy Blue and the Big Bad Wolf, the legends have lurked in our human society, mingling with us, sometimes acting as our friends and sometimes as our enemies.
Building from a series of clever little vignettes to an epic tale of war and betrayal, revolution and politics, Legends became one of my favorite graphic novel reads. The authors rarely strayed into the realm of the silly, playing their Big Idea as straight as a ruler, drawing me into the lives of these vividly realized, striving people who struggled to get along -- and get home. On the way, the authors fluidly change comic styles, flipping from simplistic children's comics to elaborate oil-paintings to stylized manga, choosing the style that suits the present storyline best.
With the final installment, the Fables go to war, and adopts the conventions of war comics. The story is big -- huge -- and the battles are nail-biters. Read the rest
Dan Wells, publisher at Biblioasis, wrote to me about Three Balconies, an anthology written by illustrator Drew Friedman
's dad, and I asked him to provide a brief description about it.
Three Balconies, the first collection of new short stories in nearly two decades by Bruce Jay Friedman (who, if you're keeping track of such things, is the father of the fabulous portrait artist Drew Friedman) has just been released. There was a time, in the 60's, 70's and 80's, when Friedman was often mentioned alongside Philip Roth and Bernard Malamud as among the most important Jewish writers in America. His star has fallen a bit since, though it's not deserved. There seems to be the simmerings of new interest, finally: Heidi Julavits has praised him in an interview as an important literary trend setter, the original Roth, his Stern making Portnoy's Complaint possible.
Read the rest
Three Balconies is vintage Friedman, a collection of carefully crafted moral fables, sharp, funny, uncomfortable and affecting. In terms of subject, they range quite widely, from stories about battles between Jews and Gentiles, on how to keep your dignity in Hollywood (Friedman was responsible for Steambath, Stir Crazy, The Lonely Guy, Splash, The Heartbreak Kid and many others), to somewhat fantastic tales, including one about an unnamed president resembling George W. who is abducted by terrorists and put in a room where he is forced to read the Western Canon. It's a book that deserves a wider audience, and, just as importantly, a younger one, as does Friedman himself.
Rick Veitch is the comics writer and artist who got famous for the Swamp Thing
issues he drew for Alan Moore, and is probably still best known for a later issue he planned (the infamous cancelled #88) in which Swamp Thing went back in time, met Jesus and served as the cross on which the messiah was crucified. Although Moore resurrected Swamp Thing,
it was Veitch who wrote that story about a hippy actually eating one of the monster's tubers and tripping
Veitch continued the series' psychedelic path and took it in some even more dangerous directions.
Veitch split from DC for many years, and became a sensation on his own, publishing extremely bizarre yet resonant psychedelic fables. Psychedelic being the operative word.
Now they're back - bigger and brighter than ever before. And in my experience, it's the first time a second dose has packed more wallop than the first. His seminal 1980's graphic novel Brat Pack which will finally be republished in a deluxe edition in spring 2009, read like Teen Titans on crank, and served as a template for those super-bad-ass do-gooders in The Boys, Authority, and Kick Ass. He's also reprinting very high quality editions of his classics The Maximortal (free preview) and my personal favorite, Heartburst (which includes a reprint of the almost forgotten “Mirror Of Love” with Alan Moore and S.R. Bissette).
Veitch also drew a story for Harvey Pekar in Smith's fabulous ongoing Next Door Neighbor series (disclosure, my wife has one coming up, as well), and is starting his second year of a disturbingly entertaining war comedy-horror series for Vertigo called Army @ Love. Read the rest
The tenth collection of Fables comics, "The Good Prince" (and its companion volume, The Bad Prince
) continues to delight with its thoroughgoing exploration of one of the better conceits in comics today. Fables is the long-running, multiple-award-winning comic series in which every legendary being of every land -- and all of the elements of storytelling, like the pathetic fallacy -- are exiled to earth by a cruel and conquering emperor.
The Fables creators have lots of room to play with this idea -- fourteen volumes so far, including four spinouts -- and they're really going for it. The side-plots have explored everything from Hollywood's vulnerability to Jack of Fables to the special problems of human-wolf mating, the handling of conspiracy nuts who get too close to the truth, and the claustrophobia of a whole world when you aren't allowed to reveal yourself in it.
But all the way through, Fables has been moving toward a conclusion, a major battle in which the Fables try to reclaim their ancestral lands from the evil emperor. And that's where The Good Prince comes in. In this volume, the stage is really set for the final conflict between the two armies, through a set of transformations to some of the series oldest and most complex characters (some of whom have been offstage for a book or two).
At nearly 250 pages, this book feels roomier than some of the others, and there's a lot of laying-of-groundwork going on, the sense of pieces being put into place for a major offensive. Read the rest
I've just finished DMZ: Friendly Fire, the fourth collection for Brian Wood's incredible, next-gen war comic that is busily redefining the genre as something more relevant and important than it ever was before. In the DMZ storyline, America is plunged into civil war, a war between the redneck Free States movement and the authoritarian, Iraq-shocked US military. The two armies meet in New York, turning Manhattan into a giant, rent-asunder demilitarized zone, where only one reporter, the unlikely young Matty Roth, tells the real story of what goes on in the latest, endless war.
The DMZ stories manage to combine the tough, thrilling character of golden age war comics with sharp and complex analysis of the big questions underpinning the modern age of politicized, commercialized warfare.
In Friendly Fire, Matty is charged with covering the military tribunal for the squad who conducted the Day 204 Massacre in which nearly 200 peaceful protesters were gunned down by a hair-trigger force who thought they saw a gun (or did see a gun, or planted a gun). Wood's tight, super-focused storytelling never tells us what exactly happened on Day 204, and manages to make heroes out of the worst villains and villains out of the biggest heroes.
DMZ keeps getting better and better. Between this and books like The Walking Dead, Fables and Y: The Last Man, it feels like we're living in a renaissance of amazing comic book storytelling.
DMZ: graphic novel, a worthy successor to Transmetropolitan
DMZ Public Works: New collection of moving, thrilling graphic novel
Cory and DMZ's Brian Wood interviewed on iFanBoy
DMZ comic t-shirt
Read the rest
Incredible pop surrealist painter James Jean
, known also for his covers for comix series like Fables, Umbrella Academy, and others, worked with Prada to design fabrics for the fashion company's Spring line. Beautiful stuff, 'natch. Comics212 has more. Link (via Drawn!)
Previously on BB:
• James Jean: Pressure Printing art print sale Link Read the rest
My friend Dale Dougherty (editor and publisher of Maker Media) sent this to me for Boing Boing. He writes:
I just completed two plus hours of training in the prevention of sexual harassment. Thanks to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's flirtatious ways in his he-man days, California has a law (AB 1825) that "requires employers with more than 50 people to provide 2 hours of training and education to all supervisory employees." (Learning to spell 'harassment' correctly is a challenge itself - one 'r', not two, and two 's's; pronunciation is another issue.)
So I'm able to meet this requirement by taking an online course that teaches about "protected characteristics" and other terms. "Real-world" legal cases are presented throughout. At times, I thought I was reading Aesop's Fables, but with the "moral" of the story presented as multiple choice. Most of the lessons have the tone of a humorless teacher: "Employees should never use email or any business communication system to send or receive rumors or gossip, or to make disparaging or defamatory remarks about anyone." I felt like a student in the back of class wanting to say: "yeah, that never happens."
So I was surprised to read that the subject of one of these fables was Koko the Gorilla.
Case Study: Gorilla Suit
Read the rest
Kendra was a research associate for The Gorilla Foundation. As part of her duties, Kendra helped care for Koko, the sign-language talking gorilla.
Using sign language, Koko is able to communicate with humans. Over the years, Koko has repeatedly requested that female human visitors display their breasts to her.
I've just finished "Jack of Hearts," the second collection in the "Jack of Fables" comic series, spun out of the larger (and most excellent) Fables books. These are the life stories of "Jack" who was Jack Horner, Jack and the Beanstalk, Jack be Nimble, and all the other Jacks from storybooks. These comprise a kind of picaresque tale of Jack's philandering, selfish, funny life, accompanied by such supporting fables as the Pathetic Fallacy (now going by the name "Gary") and the Queen of Fortune.
In book two, we follow Jack through a series of adventures as a casino baron (the previous volume starred him as a Hollywood exec), as he copes with the mob, heiresses, and ancient mystical cabals (not to mention large, violent pit-bosses).
These are great, lightweight stories, a nice counterpoint to the darker, more brooding main Fables stories. More to the point, a second Fables series means that there's twice as much of this great comic to read. I can't get enough of it.
Link, Link to all Fables collections
Jack of Fables: great new Fables collection
Scherezade meets every fable of every land - comic
Read the rest
Snip from NYT obituary (urls added):
Madeleine L’Engle, who in writing more than 60 books, including childhood fables, religious meditations and science fiction, weaved emotional tapestries transcending genre and generation, died Thursday in Connecticut. She was 88.
Link (thanks, Marc Powell) Read the rest
Her death, of natural causes, was announced today by her publisher, Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Ms. L’Engle (pronounced LENG-el) was best known for her children’s classic, “A Wrinkle in Time,” which won the John Newbery Award as the best children’s book of 1963. By 2004, it had sold more than 6 million copies, was in its 67th printing and was still selling 15,000 copies a year.