From the Mailbag January 8

I’m a bit overwhelmed with what’s come in this week, since I wasn’t expecting so much. That’s one reason that I’m a day late posting this.

Abrams sent over two of their fascinating historical examinations of comics. The first, The Someday Funnies, is an oversized coffee table book that captures a lost project, an immense collection of strips from the 70s about the 60s with an oddly wide-ranging list of contributors. KC will tell you all about it later, but first impressions are that it’s intimidating in its size. I was comforted, though, by seeing work by Walt Simonson included. I don’t always get the appeal of some of the classic underground artists, but Walt is always good.

The Abrams book I’ll be tackling is Government Issue: Comics for the People, 1940s-2000s. It’s just the kind of collection I like, a context-based overview of a previously little-known area of comic history in a handsome, easy-to-read package. In this case, it’s comic books commissioned by the government, usually for educational or propaganda purposes.

Archaia sent a stack of their recent publications. Although they make everything available to reviewers in PDF format at the time of release, they also follow up with the actual print books, a very smart thing to do. It’s easy to ignore a digital file, especially if the first few pages don’t grab you, but looking at a print book, you can flip ahead and give the work another chance. (So by sending followup copies, they get two chances for coverage.) Plus, Archaia’s books are always substantial and well-made, so they’re pleasures to hold and page through.

I’ve already recommended Fraggle Rock Classics, but this package also brought the first volume of The Dark Crystal: Creation Myths; the fantasy saga Spera, in which two princesses and a fire-dog set out on a fantasy quest; and the Edward Gorey-esque picturebook Billy Fog and the Gift of Trouble Sight.

The latest TwoMorrows book is Modern Masters Volume 27: Ron Garney. The interviewer and co-writer, Jorge Khoury, calls Garney “Marvel’s best comic book artist”, so if you’d like to know more about him, known for work on Captain America and Wolverine, among others, this is the book for you. (Although I imagine if that’s the case, you already know about and have preordered this volume.)

Coming in April is Unterzakhn, a historical graphic novel by Leela Corman (whose Subway Series I remember fondly) about life on the Lower East Side as an immigrant in 1909. A flip-through makes it look intriguing, especially since it explores the limited options available to little girls, twin sisters in this case.

Similar Posts: The Hunting of the Snark § M by Jon J Muth to Include DVD § From the Mailbag January 16: Indy Graphic Novels Are Alive and Well § Coming Up: Books Due in January 2010 § Howling at the Gates Launches


3 Responses to “From the Mailbag January 8”

  1. GWComics Says:

    I really enjoyed Garney and Waid’s run on Captain America, and I’m not trying to bash or minimalize Garney or his obvious talent, but what exactly is the criteria for being a modern master?

    The back of the books say they’re “celebrating the lives and work of the greatest comic book artists of our time”. So where is Colan? Sienkiewicz? Starlin? Steranko?

    Garney is a great artist but as good as he is I don’t think anyone would say his style was groundbreaking or pioneering or even as unique in style(I often can’t distinguish between guys like Garney, Andy Kubert and Pacheco) as most of the others selected to be MM or the ones I mentioned above. I’m happy for Garney, but kind of disappointed that we haven’t seen some others whoh are clearly more groundbreaking ahead of him.

  2. Johanna Says:

    That’s a good question. Along similar lines, I was resisting saying “27 volumes in and they haven’t found a female master yet”? As far as I know, criteria for this series is being willing to conduct a career-spanning interview and provide sketchbook art. There’s also the factor of the editors feeling that their audience will be interested in the artist (and thus buy the book), which is why so many of those covered are known for superhero comics during at least part of their career. Since Colan has sadly passed, I doubt their will be a book in this series about him. (Double-checking, they did a stand-alone volume dedicated to him, Secrets in the Shadows, now out of print).

  3. GWComics Says:

    Agreed. It seems Fradon would definitely qualify. And if Jeff Smith qualifies then I’d say Jill Thompson wouldn’t be that contraversial a choice. There’s also Marie Severin. While I didn’t care at all for her work on actual superhero books, her humor work at Marvel was, IMO, rather groundbreaking. I’d say Rachel Dodson is just as deserving as Garney. As is Emma Rios.

    As far as Colan goes, that was my point. He was alive and still working well into Modern Masters run. Now I can see them holding off on doing a MM on Colan if they had a special book on Colan in the works. That’s definitely a possibility.

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