Anyway, I've misplaced two of my rulers, including the workhorse, the one I really, really need, and while searching for them and knocking over piles of layouts and drawings I came across a small pile of books and zines I've been meaning to write up for a while now. So, here's a few things of interest a few folks have tossed our way, perhaps a few of you folks might find some of these items of interest as well. It's a beautiful thing when that happens, isn't it?
The Looney Tunes Treasury: Including Amazing Interactive Treasures From the Warner Bros. Vault! (not too mention an amazingly long full title) - Andrew Farago, foreword by Ruth Clampett. 144 pages, Running Press
This is a big, chunky, wonderfully-produced and snappily written gift book by Andrew Farago, a name some of you in comics circles may be familiar with. The book contains a host of full-color and black and white images from the WB animation studio's golden age, lobby cards, set-ups, sketches, model sheets, merchandise, screen shots, backgrounds, caricatures of various directors and animators and the like. It also contains a batch of anecdotes, some odd bits of information, and is all built around sections devoted to key WB characters, written in first-person, in interview formats, etc. The so-called interactive treasures are a series of special items and inclusions that are presented much in the style of The Jolly Postman books, if you've seen them -- three-dimensional artifacts and items are attached inside the book, including a set of Daffy Duck stickers, a Tasmanian Devil paper mask, a Bugs Bunny script page, Speedy Gonzales postcards, a smaller-than-original size reproduction of an old comic, and, my personal favorite touch, an Acme products catalog. It's all pretty damned spiffy and a lot of fun, and there's a foreword by Ruth Clampett, as well.
If you own a Golden treasury DVD of Looney Tunes shorts then this book is probably right up your cartoon alley. if not, you may know someone who this book is for. A nice gift book for yourself or someone who, like me, might also wonder why there were no sections for Egghead or Sniffles the Mouse or the abusive Bear Family. Can't have everything, I guess. And you can't have anything that WB doesn't merchandise, I guess. I'd buy a complete Sniffles DVD. Just saying, if anyone out there's listening.
Anyway, here's an amazing interactive link to a nifty interview Tom Spurgeon conducted with Andrew Farago over the holidays, the book gets some mention as does Farago's awesome-sounding day-gig at The Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco.
Astronaut Academy: Zero Gravity by Dave Roman, 192 pages, First Second (scheduled for release in June)
Holy Hannah, someone sent us a preview copy of a new Dave Roman graphic novel from First Second. That's always cool, I don't care how geeky that comes off. Methinks Dave Roman, swell cartoonist/writer and all-around swell person had something to do with this. Anyway, I really would like to plug this fun-looking all-ages comic, but the minute I opened the package up my 6 year-old daughter grabbed it and took off with it to the kitchen table and I haven't seen it since. So, I haven't read it yet, except for a few parts that Emily made me read (or she read to me) before the book disappeared into her library. She really liked it and laughed a lot while reading it and re-reading it. She's got pretty damned good taste for a tiny thing, if I do say so myself (rejects new Archie comics, adores Little Lulu, Uncle Scrooge and King Aroo, if that tells you anything). All I know about this book is that in the future a former kid superhero enrolls in the Astronaut Academy to start his life over and from what I was able to see crazy adventures ensue and stuff. I like Dave's brisk cartooning but I have no idea what those adventures are so you only have my kid's laughter to go by. I'll have to remember to go find the book and give it a read so I can savage it and keep up my street cred as a bitter comic book hater. Beware, Dave Roman, beware!
Drop Target Zine - by Jon Chad and Alec Longstreth, 55 b&w pgs (w/color centerfold), self-published zine
Well, this is right up my alley -- two cartoonist pinball-enthusiasts putting out a zine about their enthusiasm for pinball. Um, yeah, I'm so there. Includes comics about their growing obsession with pinball, an illustrated pinball glossary that covers the mechanisms and terms of the game and designs for their "dream pins". There's also a guide to pins in White River Junction, VT (home of the zine as well as the awesome Center for Cartoon Studies, where Alec Longstreth teaches), a review of a pinball documentary and an interview with Brinda Coleman and Sam Soule who published the pin-centric zine Multiball from 1993-2004. Comics, pinball and zines, three of my favorite waning forms of popular/semi-popular) entertainment, what more could you ask for? And it's good stuff, did I mention it's good? Well, it's good. Fun, infectious, interesting. Win, win, win. You can order copies of #1 via the above link (#2 is due in the spring), and here's a link to the Drop Target blog, to boot.
Zombre #2: The Magic Forest - by Ansis Purins, 48 b&w pgs, full-color foil-stamped cover, self-published mini-comic
Ansis Purins has been kicking around for some time now doing comics and illustrations, to the point where I'm surprised to not see his name thrown about more often by small-pressers and scenesters and comic book cognoscenti and whatever you call us pasty idiots who like comics way too much. His signature character is Zombre, and this latest comic was funded by a grant from the Xeric-award foundation. It is a super-handsome little comic and the grant was used to good purposes, I love the covers and Ansis' interior artwork has gotten better and more accomplished over time -- he has cartoon chops, indeed. The story is pretty oddball and hard to relate cleanly and quickly, as are most of the Zombre comics I've seen over the years -- innocuous in places, creepy in others, funny here and there. Swell stuff, imho, worth a look for sure.
Fun fact: Ansis was the vocalist for the 3rd-wave Boston ska band, Skavoovie and the Epitones. Ah, the 90's. Never would have thought I'd ever be nostalgic for that decade, but sometimes, I am.
Cult-ure - written and designed by Rian Hughes, 356 pages, Fiell Publishing
If you don't know who British designer-illustrator-cartoonist-writer-t
Are you back? Nifty huh? In comics circles you may have seen examples of his cartooning, logos, fonts, design work (for Deadline for a time, among other publications), as you can see he's also out there in the wider world, bless him, doing dazzling work that humbles many of us who are aware of him. I kinda hate looking at his stuff because it's so good. I've lost myself in his website a few times before, he does an amazing amount of work and it kind of sickens me, truth to tell, I've never understood anything about design in all it's facets, and people who do, well, sicken me. Anyway, Cult-ure is a thick treatise on just about everything Hughes tackles and thinks about regarding culture, pop culture, media, design, symbolism, communication, ideas, ideas, ideas. Marvelous-looking, of course, bold, striking, lovely. I just need to find the time to digest it. And wonder how people actually design anything besides sitting down and just drawing it all like a caveman. Oh -- why did I get a copy of this in the post? Because page 215 is illustrated with a run of Myron the Living Voodoo Doll strips. I think it's the ugliest thing in the book, but then again, what do I know about design? Exactly. I'm chuffed, as they say, to have my work tossed in there, and it was nice to "meet" Rian Hughes via e-mail, as Sarah and I are both long-time fans of his work.
We also received the latest issues of two long-running, beloved and seemingly-unstoppable small-press publications/institutions that both happen to be based in Chicago -- The Nostalgia Digest and Roctober. Both are a ton of fun as always and I hope they continue to cover their respective necks of the pop-culture woods for a mighty long time.
Whew. And that's why I rarely do the review thing here anymore, because it eats up time to do even a half-assed job. It's also always easier to riff negatively on things, the garbage flows, man, being positive and crap is too much goddamned trouble.
Oh, before I get back to work and get back to being negative -- as always, our thanks to those of you out there who placed bids on our most recent art auctions. We appreciate it, more than you know.