Adventure Time: The Original Cartoon Title Cards Seasons 3 & 4

By various (Titan Books)
ISBN: 978-1-78329-896-9

Just in case you’re unfamiliar with the Cartoon Network show this book celebrates, Adventure Time is set in a post-apocalyptic future about a thousand years after the “Great Mushroom War”. In the crazily magical Land of Ooo a bizarre coterie of life-forms live their strange lives and a human boy and his shapeshifting dog are having a grand old time…

The series is multi-award-winning and an absolute paragon of meticulous yet inspired creativity. Populated with an astoundingly bizarre cast which includes notional heroes Jake and Finn, regal Princess Bubblegum, Marceline the Vampire Queen, elephantine Treetrunks, the Earl of Lemongrab, gabby Lumpy Space Princess, BMO, Neptr, Agent Princess, Susan Strong, dour penguin Gunter and cool, cruel antagonist the Ice King, every aspect of each episodes is planned in the most minute detail, even to the so-briefly-glimpsed introductory images which depict each story’s individual designation.

Those “Title Cards” are just one more opportunity for the in-house creative wizards to push boundaries and their own artistic envelopes and have been celebrated with their own glitzy eye-popping albums. This sublimely surreal second selection – gathering the incredible, gone-in-a-second scenes in a more lasting and luxurious setting – features bold, bizarre and beautiful breaks in narrative from the third and fourth season conceived and crafted by Natasha Allegri, Gunnar Gilmore, Tom Herpich, Nick Jennings, Andy Ristaino, Rebecca Sugar, Pendleton Ward and Michelle Xin, each visual accompanied by behind-the scenes notes, preliminary sketches and commentary by the individual illustrator.

Presented in a stunning, sturdily oversized (295 x 232 mm) full-colour hardback the otherworldly wonders are preceded by an excitable Introduction and rapturous Resumés of the Artists involved, before the 42 individual episode cards with evocative legends such as ‘Conquest of Cuteness’, ‘Memory of a Memory’, ‘Fionna and Cake’, ‘Beautopia’, ‘Dad’s Dungeon’, ‘You Made Me’ and ‘Reign of Gunters’ beguile, bedazzle and bewilder with seductively teasing terms any and every lover of weirdness and wild all-ages escapism.

Strangely addictive, madly absurd and sweet as cartoon candy, this is a treat for young and old alike. Adventure Time, Cartoon Network, the logos and all related characters and elements are ™ and © Cartoon Network (S15). All rights reserved.

Adventure Time: The Original Cartoon Title Cards Seasons 3 & 4 will be released on August 4th 2015 and is available for pre-order now.

Flawed Dogs – The Year-End Leftovers at the Piddleton “Last-Chance” Dog Pound

By Berkeley Breathed (Little, Brown & Co.)
ISBN: 978-0-316-71359-7

After an all-too-brief and glittering career as a syndicated strip cartoonist and socio-political commentator (so often the very same hallowed function) Berkeley Breathed retired his deadline-crushing Bloom County and Outland strips to become a writer and illustrator of children’s books.

He lost none of his perception, wit or imagination, and actually got better as a sequential artist. He never completely abandoned his entrancing cast of characters and always maintained the gently excoriating, crusading passion and inherent bittersweet invective which underscored those earlier narratives.

An adventurous – if accident-prone – man with a big heart and love of animals, in 2003 Breathed crafted a stunningly moving, achingly heartbreaking and darkly hilarious painted hardback picture-book which presented itself as a brochure of no-hope pooches (and their former owners) being offered one final chance to escape the needle at a Podunk animal shelter deep in the wilds of Vermont…

The Piddleton “Last-Chance” Dog Pound is the place other institutions send all the dogs who have failed to find homes anywhere else, but even it has space limitations. The tireless organiser of the annual push to re-home all these one-of-a-kind, misunderstood mutts is Miss Heidy Strüdleberg; a former President of the American Kennel Club and prominent dog show judge who had a close encounter with a three-legged Dachshund that changed her life forever.

Rejecting that unforgiving and artificially idealised society, she resolved to strike a blow against a world that shuns the flawed and only has time for perfection. And here you can see in all their homely glory a host of uniquely lovable last-chancers like Bipsie, Noodles, Titus and Sam the Lion, all accompanied by pictorial examples of how they achieved their current sorry states with pungently potent verses of doggerel describing their meagre blandishments…

The success of this book led to notional sequel/prequel Flawed Dogs: The Shocking Raid on Westminster and Heidy’s tale will be seen as a forthcoming major motion picture…

Less a story than a crushingly captivating cartoon catechism for canine deliverance, delivered in sharp and lyrical rhyme, this is a book to trigger consciences and promote (considered) dog adoption which will make a grown man howl and children sit up and beg. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll think hard before going online and adopting a pet that needs a home…
© 2003 Berkeley Breathed. All rights reserved.

Street View

By Pascal Rabaté translated by Terry Nantier (NBM/ComicsLit)
ISBN: 978-1-56163-908-3

Whilst everyone else you know is risking life and limb at the post-Christmas sales (or carpal tunnel syndrome by buying online) here’s a splendid little graphic confection to add to your own shopping list.

French bande dessinée creator (Exode, Ibicus, Les Petits Ruisseaux) and filmmaker (Wandering Streams, Du goudron et des plumes) Pascal Rabaté was born in August 1961 in Tours. Raised in Langeais, he studied printmaking at l’École des Beaux-Arts d’Angers in the 1980s before he began selling comics tales in 1989.

Always experimental, his works ran against contemporary trends as he moved towards a personal kind of Expressionism. His four-volume Tolstoy graphic adaptation Ibicus garnered awards and critical acclaim and cemented his reputation amongst the leading lights of French comics.

In 2013 he crafted a novel and sublimely witty tribute to Alfred Hitchcock (specifically Rear Window) entitled Fenêtre sur rue (Matinées), Fenêtre sur rue (Soirées) which is now available to English speakers. To be honest there’s only a tantalising, scene-setting introductory paragraph to anglicise… everything else is this confection is a wry witty pictorial progression of timeless pantomime and voyeuristic intrigue…

Street View (Mornings) is an “accordion book”: there is no spine holding individual pages together, but rather ten “widescreen” tableaux, run together as one continuous (neatly folded) Mise-en-scène scroll, depicting intimate and personal events as one morning passes on an ordinary street.

The scenario depicts two shops with upstairs apartments, a small house and a low-rise block of flats through certain times of day, with seventeen glass storefronts, doors and windows all affording sneaky peeks at folks living their lives in what they think is perfect privacy…

With the reader as silent witness, all their stories unfold before our sensation-hungry eyes: single viewpoint vignettes of frustration, love, betrayal, family crisis, outrageous humour, petty vindictiveness, idiocy, vanity, bad behaviour, drastic change and maybe even murder…

Street View (Evenings) is the flipside of the scroll, revealing for the dedicated viewer the freedom and license which grips all those isolated participants when they think themselves fully cloaked by darkness (if not drapes and curtains) …

This thrilling, funny – and yes, little bit creepy – intoxicating ensemble piece is a superb example of how pure graphic storytelling can beguile, inform and entertain: transcending barriers of language and custom with slickly effective imagery and primal narrative. It’s also one hell of a damn fine read and you simply must see it…

© 2013 Edition Soleil/Rabaté. © 2014 NBM for the English translation.

Black Light: The World of L.B. Cole

By Leonard Brandt Cole with an introduction by Bill Schelly (Fantagraphics Books)
ISBN: 978-1-60699-762-8

The early days of the American comicbook industry were a whirlwind of spectacular exuberance and the front covers of the gaudy pamphlets that endlessly proliferated were all crafted to scream “Buy Me! Buy Me!” from within a sea of similar sights.

As such, that first visual contact was crucial to success and one of the greatest artists ever to mesmerise kids out of their hard-earned dimes was Leonard Brandt Cole (28th August 1918 – December 5th 1995) who had a master designer’s knack for combining captivating ideas and imagery with eye-popping style and technique.

Although he also illustrated quite a few interior strips (for Holyoke, Ajax, Farrel and Gilberton), Cole’s true gift and passion was devising attention-grabbing cover images rendered in what he called “poster colors”.

Whether on Horror, Superhero, Science Fiction, Sports, Humour, Crime, War, Western, Rugged Adventure, Jungle, Romance or Funny Animal titles, his stellar, absorbing art was instantly recognisable and in great part is what defines the Golden Age of Comics for us today…

His influence doesn’t end there, however. A shrewd businessman and editor, Cole started his own studio-shop to manufacture stories for assorted companies and parlayed it into publishing company (initially by buying existing properties from client Novelty Press in 1949) and then diversifying through his Star Comics line into genre novels, prose-pulps, puzzle-books and general magazine periodicals.

Frequently he would combine his electric primary colours over a black background adding instant extra punch to his renditions of masked champions, soaring spaceships, macabre monsters and a legion of damsels in love or distress…

Before joining the nascent comics industry in the early 1940s, Cole’s background was in science and printing. He studied veterinary science (he held a doctorate in Anatomy and Physiology from the University of Berlin) but was working as a lithographic Art Director when he made the seemingly sideways transition into illustration and comics.

Incredibly this colossal (272 pages, at 337x235mm), durably Flexibound compendium is his first major retrospective, bringing together a multitude of his most impressive works in one immense, colourful and informative volume

The astounding career of a comicbook Renaissance man is covered in fascinating detail in ‘Comics by Design – the Weird Worlds of L.B. Cole’ by pre-eminent historian of the medium Bill Schelly, whose appreciation ‘Fever Dreams in Four-Color Form’ is followed by his erudite biography and timeline of the artist, divided into four discrete periods.

Each section is augmented by photos, covers, original artwork and even comics extracts – ranging from panels and splash pages to complete stories (such as Paul Revere Jr.) – covered in lavish detail in ‘Into Comics’ and ‘Cole as Publisher’ whilst ‘Out of Comics’ focuses on his later move into commercial art, education and illustration.

In the 1980s Cole was “rediscovered” by comics fandom and achieved minor celebrity status through appearances at conventions. ‘Art Among the Junk’ covers this period up until his death when he began recreating his iconic covers as privately commissioned paintings for modern collectors.

The true wonder of this glorious phantasmagorical collection follows in ‘The Comics Covers of L.B. Cole’ which showcases long runs of the artist’s stunning covers – nearly 350 eye-popping poster images – from such evocative titles as 4Most, All-Famous Police Cases, Blue Bolt, Captain Aero, Cat-Man Comics, Classics Illustrated, Contact Comics, Confessions of Love, Criminals on the Run, Dick Tracy, Flight Comics, Frisky Animals, Ghostly Weird Stories, Killers, Jeep Comics, Mask, Popular Teen-Agers, Power Comics, Ship Ahoy, Shocking Mystery Cases, Spook, Sport Thrills, Startling Terror Tales, Suspense Comics, Target Comics, Terrors of the Jungle, Top Love, Toy Town, Western Crime Cases, White Rider and Super Horse and many more…

The pictorial feast doesn’t end there though as ‘Further Works’ gathers a host of his non-comics covers including books such as The Greatest Prison Breaks of All Time, Murders I’ve Seen, Raging Passions and Love Hungry, as well as magazine covers for joke periodicals like Wit and Wisdom, Sporting Dogs and World Rod and Gun. Gentleman’s publications and “sweat mags” such as Man’s True Action, Man’s Daring Adventures and Epic (Stories of True Action) also feature: all augmented with articles, working sketches and original drawings and paintings. There’s even a selection of his superb animal studies and anatomical and medical textbook illustrations, plus private commissions, recreations and unpublished or unfinished works…

Black Light is a vast and stunning treasury of fantastic imagery from a bygone age by a master of visual communication that no fan of popular art could fail to appreciate, but for comics lovers it’s something else too: a seductive gateway to astounding worlds of imagination and breathless nostalgia impossible to resist.
Black Light: The World of L.B. Cole © 2015 Fantagraphics Books. All comics, artwork, photos, illustrations and intellectual properties © 2015 the respective copyright holder. All rights reserved.

The Squickerwonkers volume 1

By Evangeline Lilly & Johnny Fraser-Allen (Titan Books)
ISBN: 978-1-78329-545-6

Win’s Christmas Gift Recommendation: Beguiling fun for kids of all ages… 9/10

In the good old days children used to be exposed to literature both entertaining and at the same time morally edifying. Generally that meant frontloading wonderful tales of adventure and imagination with scarcely concealed threats of dire retribution for acts of rebellion of minor malfeasance – and a good thing too, say I.

Coming from that first generation of kids who grew up watching Doctor Who from behind the sofa, we all know the value of thrills, chills and spectacle safely experienced from a base of comfortable security. The stuff we read – such as the unexpurgated Fairytales of the Brothers Grimm – gave us all a thorough grounding in wonder and responsibility and a deep loathing of sanitised modern pablum masquerading as entertainment for youngsters.

Happily, recent times have thrown up an increasing number of tomes for tots that tantalisingly re-embrace the wild, dark and deliciously dangerous realms of fantasy and wonder and such is definitely the case with this delirious original comic romp from actress and author Evangeline Lilly (Lost, The Hobbit, The Hurt Locker).

Delivered in vivacious, vivid verse, this splendid picture book is astoundingly and lavishly illustrated by Johnny Fraser-Allen (senior sculptor and conceptual designer at WETA Workshop with works like The Hobbit trilogy, Narnia Chronicles and Spielberg’s Tintin to his credit): an introductory bestiary to a band of particularly peculiar creatures with their own rigorously enforced code of conduct…

Simply stuffed to overflowing with utterly entrancing painterly images of the rough-carved and close-cut cast, the rhythmic revelations commence following a glowing and emphatic Introduction from Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, after which the curtain rises on obnoxiously tantrum-addicted little Selma, supercilious scion of the Rin-Run Royals.

On this occasion the haughty tyke pokes her over-privileged nose into a fascinating travelling circus wagon and encounters a family of eerie animated puppets and macabre marionettes who are uniformly unimpressed by her credentials and uncouth demands to see the incredible “Squickershow”…

Taking umbrage at her boorish manners the dauntingly garish Papa the Proud parades his bizarre band of brothers and sisters before “inviting” Selma to join their creepy capering crowd. Her tantrums are all to no avail and soon she is literally enchanted to become just one of the gang…

As well as the laconic epic of leery limericks and arcane etchings, this stunning book also includes luxurious biographies of the creative crew involved and ends with a fabulous no-strings attached feature giving each of The Squickerwonkers their moment in the limelight.

The roguish retinue of delightful dummies includes the aforementioned Papa the Proud, Mama the Mean, Gilligan the Guilty, Meghan the Mute, Greer the Greedy, Gillis the Gluttonous, Sparky the Spectacle, Lorna the Lazy, Andy the Arrogant and, making her travelling stage puppet show debut, Selma the Spoiled

Clearly conceived with one wise eye towards an animated feature in the future, this slim cautionary comedy of manners highlights a coterie of unsettling stars in a rousing fable your kids will want to read over and over again. And so will you.
© 2013 Evangeline Lilly.

I’d Love to Draw!

By Andrew Loomis (Titan Books)
ISBN: 978-1-78116-920-9

Win’s Christmas Recommendation: a superb, old-school introduction to peace and recreation… 9/10

There are a host of books both academic and/or instructional designed to inculcate a love of comics whilst offering tips, secrets and an education in how to make your own sequential narratives.

There are far more intended to foster and further the apparently innate and universal desire to simply make art and make it proficiently and well. There are however, precious few that do it with as much style, enthusiasm, delight and cunning craft as this latest re-release by one of the most influential and meritorious masters of illustration America ever produced.

William Andrew Loomis was born in Syracuse, New York in 1892. He grew up in Zanesville, Ohio during the period when almost all published illustration was crafted by talented hands rather than mechanical contrivances like cameras.

Aged 19, he moved back to New York to study under George Bridgman and Frank DuMond at the Art Students League before enlisting to fight in The Great War.

On returning to America Loomis studied at the Art Institute of Chicago whilst setting up his own agency as a jobbing illustrator. Successful from the start, he began supplementing his income during the 1930s by teaching at the American Academy of Art and eventually started compiling his lecture and class material into such popular and effective instructional tomes as Fun With a Pencil and Figure Drawing for All It’s Worth.

His many beautiful and inspirational books influenced generations of artists before eventually slipping out of print, but in recent years Titan Books have been gradually resurrecting them.

This latest tome (with an Introduction and a lavishly informative commentary by comics legend and grateful fan Alex Ross) continues the master’s good works in an epic-scaled (315 x 235mm) luxuriously sturdy monochrome hardback which is a treasure to behold. Even when demonstrating the simplest stance or construction shape, Loomis’ utter joy in putting lines or shapes or shades on paper shines through…

This deeply idiosyncratic, wonderfully expansive and copiously illustrated collection begins with ‘Getting Started’: explaining the theory of ‘Basic Forms’ whilst offering page after page of illuminating examples before carefully and enthusiastically getting to grips with the thorny discipline of ‘Perspective’ in all its daunting forms.

The third pillar of artistic accomplishment is tackled head-on in ‘Light’ with a plethora of examples and exercises explaining all the necessities and useful tricks before the comfortable crash-course gravitates to Part Two and ‘Getting the Fun Out of It!’

Here the first port of call is perfecting ‘The Head’ which incorporates basic construction, carriage, positions and techniques before moving on to caricature and portraiture, after which ‘The Figure’ meticulously traces body form and development from stick-skeletons and sketch layouts to varieties of rendering, fast action visual notation, The Nude and the fundamentals of full illustration.

The foundation course concludes with the third and most important part: ‘The Fun of Sketching’: opening with an effusive overview of the practice of ‘Sketching’ incorporating Line and Form Combined, Exaggeration to Project Character, Solid or Tonal Caricature, Portrait Sketching and much, much more.

Everything ends in an enthralling and enthusiastic ‘Closing Chat’ from the great man encouraging everyone to pick up a pencil and get on with it…

Loomis died in 1959 with one last art manual – Eye of the Painter & Elements of Beauty – published posthumously, yet his professional artistic philosophy, folksy wit and great personal charm still shine throughout this book. His gentle yet thorough instruction of the eternal unchanging verities of visual creation still makes the rewarding act of drawing not only achievable but desirable for everyone.

Perhaps this splendid volume is aimed more squarely at the progressing cartoonist, rather than at utter neophytes, and provides as much a philosophy of creativity as strict instruction, but I’d Love to Draw! will well serve any budding artists and storytellers whilst keeping idle hands and minds amused, absorbed and entertained for hours. If you already have the urge to make pictures but want a little encouragement, this marvellous manual will offer a steadying hand and all the support you could dream of.

© Andrew Loomis, The Estate of Andrew Loomis 2014. All rights reserved.

Introduction and additional text © Alex Ross 2014.

World War 3 Illustrated 1979-2014

By various, edited by Peter Kuper & Seth Tobocman (PM Press)
ISBN: 978-1-60486-958-3

Since the 1980s and proceeding ever more unchecked into the 21st century, nations and human society have been plagued with horrors and disasters exacerbated if not actually caused by a world-wide proliferation of lying, greedy, venal, demented and just plain stupid bosses and governments.

These paragons have finally succeeded in elevating politicians of every stripe to that phylum of generally useless tools and pimples on the butt of humanity once only occupied by ambulance-chasing lawyers, lifestyle coaches and management consultants.

Since then so many apparently entitled and greedy archetypes like bankers, astrologers, wedding planners, doorstep evangelists, CEOs, celebrity gossip columnists, newspaper editors, the shamelessly privileged and all types of psychics have joined their rarefied ranks, and I’m thinking I probably need to either grow my own provably unadulterated coffee or further refine my critical parameters…

The century before ours wasn’t much better, but it did spawn a global awareness of the sheer symbolic power of art to promote debate, action and change. Politically charged, culturally aware imagery has been used over and over again by the underdogs – and, to be honest, the more savvy oppressors – in countless intellectual clashes as irresistible Weapons of Mass Deliberation…

This is a book that should make you angry and inspired. That is its point and purpose…

Created in response to Ronald Reagan’s presidency – possibly the only thing non-Americans can be thankful to the mad, bible-thumping bastard for – World War 3 Illustrated was founded in 1979 by Pratt Institute art students Peter Kuper and Seth Tobocman in the wake of a rising tide of political conservatism, religious fundamentalism and unchecked capitalist autocracy

The magazine quickly became a beacon and rallying point for artistic activists: a collective collaboration galvanising and powerfully polemical, covering a vast procession of issues the political Powers-That-Be and increasingly law-immune Corporate Hegemonies would prefer were never aired or exposed.

Always championing the ever-diminishing rights of the individual over the juggernaut of rapacious commercial expansion and global monetary domination, the magazine brought – and still brings – together creative freedom-fighters who oppose the insidious wave of creeping everyday injustices through art, information and – most effectively of all – opposing views and dissenting opinions.

Now the smart, informed publishing people of PM Press have released a spectacular and sumptuous hardback retrospective of World War 3 Illustrated; re-presenting some of the graphic gadfly’s greatest moments in a stunning collection no self-aware seditionist could afford to miss at a time when individual freedoms and planetary wellbeing have never been more endangered…

One crucial word of clarification: the Third World War hasn’t been declared and has no recognised Theatre of Operations. It’s an ongoing series of perpetual localised skirmishes intended to replace individuality with homogeneity, freedom with conformity, humanity with faceless consumerism and intellect, spontaneity and self-esteem with a slavish devotion to money and oligarchic, board-sanctioned options from a menu of consumerist choices designed to keep the merchant-machine running…

Stuffed with spot-art and themed chapters fronted by double-page Chapter Icons from Kuper, Scott Cunningham, Sabrina Jones, Tobocman, Susan Willmarth, Kevin C. Pyle, Rebecca Migdal, Sandy Jimenez, Ethan Heitner, Nicole Schulman, Christopher Cardinale and Hilary Allison, this grand bible of creative resistance opens with the rousing and informative ‘Introduction: In Cahoots!’ by veteran activist, educator and reformer Bill Ayers before the parade of artistic action gets underway.

Starting World War 3 reveals the way it all began in the essay ‘Manifesto’, by Tobocman & Kuper, before the early forays are revisited in ‘Old Pals’ by Peter Bagge, whilst “Dr. Froydo Baggins” diagnoses the scatological power structure of modern society in ‘Top Feces’ by Isabella Bannerman & Robert Desmond, and Chuck Sperry’s terrifying collage ‘Bud’ is followed by Tobocman’sstate of disunion revelation in ‘The World is Being Ripped’. The chapter is closed by ‘Dove vs. Technology (back cover #8)’ by Aki Fujiyoshi.

Theocracy unbound is the subject of In God We Trust? opening with ‘Rapture’ – Kuper’s terrifying visualisation of an actual speech by Moral Majority founder Jerry Falwell – after which Erik Drooker moodily relates his ‘First Encounter’ with The Lord and Mike Diana explains how ‘Jesus is Suffering for You’

Ryan Inzana describes his liberating escape from ‘One Nation Under Fear’ before ‘Pope Exposed (back cover #5)’ by David Shannon leads to the pantomimic revelation of ‘Jesus in Hell’ by James Romberger, and Isabelle Dervaux ends things on a blasphemous high note with ‘Walking on Water’.

The war on women is highlighted in Herstories, opening with Isabella Bannerman’s gripping ‘Herstories (cover #16)’ from 1992. This is followed by the evocative ‘Women’s Rights’ by Paula Hewitt Amram and the harrowing ‘Walking Down the Street’ by Sabrina Jones and a truly disturbing glimpse into the pressures on young girls to have sex in ‘K-9’s First Time’ by K-9 & Fly before Jones scores again with ‘Saudi Woman (back cover #14)’ to close the chapter.

Gentrification and the New York Elite’s attempts to forcibly relocate its poor by Fiscal Ethnic Cleansing are spotlighted in Captive City,beginning with the trenchant ‘Ave A’ by Anton Van Dalen and Tobocman’s ‘Why Are Apartments Expensive?’

Drooker then imaginatively shares some cold, harsh facts and statistics in ‘Shelter from the Storm’, whilst Steve Brodner plays Devil’s Advocate in ‘The Pound’ and Mac McGill interprets ‘Memories’ with apocalyptic panache.

Nicole Schulman then reveals why ‘You Can’t Go Home, Again?’ whilst Tobocman declares ‘War in the Neighorhood’ and Jeff Lewis wistfully bemoans how ‘I Was Raised on the Lower East Side’ to suspend the ongoing class war… until next time…

Autobiology focuses on differences of opinion such as the divisive nature of sneakers in ‘Skips’ by Sandy Jimenez, ineffectual relationships in Bannerman’s ‘No Visible Evidence’ and parenting in Scott Cunningham’s ‘Alien Metaphor’, after which Drooker relates a chilling anecdote in ‘The Fall’ and Kuper details how he was called as an expert witness in Mike Diana’s comics obscenity trial in the ‘Sunshine State’

The misrule of Law comes under excoriating scrutiny in Under Arrest, opening with ‘Police State America’ by Tobocman, detailing how a black woman in New York was gunned down by a SWAT Team for incurring rent arrears, whilst Drooker’s ‘Coup d’Etat of the Spirit’ movingly recalls a friend who got on the wrong side of a police action…

‘Yard In!’, by Mumia Abu-Jamal & Gregory Benton, wryly pinpoints one of the many cruel insanities endured by Death Row inmates before Drooker’s ‘Prison Issue (cover #24)’ leads to Kevin C. Pyle’s revelatory expose of the mean-spirited “Diesel Therapy” used to break prisoners’ spirits ‘On the Road’. Benton then returns to offer a shred of comfort in ‘#AM-8335’.

Sperry opens the chilling Biohazard section with a bleak confrontation of ‘My Mother, My Mother’ before Pyle produces the most horrifying piece in this collection with his documentary detailing of the grotesque criminal acts of the United States Public Health Service which began a near-forty year long, generational study of syphilis by deliberately withholding antibiotic treatments from the African American community of Macon County, Alabama in the shocking tale entitled ‘Pink Medicine’

Encroaching environmental catastrophe is the meat of Green House, Blue Planet, beginning with Tobocman’s captivating ‘What You Need to Know’, whilst Rebecca Migdal’s ‘The Food Chain (cover #41)’ precedes ‘Someday in the Future’ by Susan Willmarth, revealing how corporate misuse of the drug Diclofenac led to the near extinction of India’s vulture population and the almost complete destruction of the subcontinent’s food chain.

Drooker’s forbidding illustration ‘Moloch’, then leads to ‘Needle Factory’, a bleak cutting whimsy from Felipe Galindo, after which Sue Coe presents a series of ghastly images created in response to the monstrous Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2006 – ‘Murder in the Gulf’, ‘BP Burns Turtles’ and ‘Sold!’

At least Drooker is there to wrap it up with a hope-filled dream of ‘The Jungle’

We Y New York opens with the ‘9/11 Release Poster’ by Kuper & Sperry, and an autobiographical reverie in ‘9-11-01’ by Fly, before Ward Sutton briefly interjects a sardonic aside with the ‘Fear News Network’ whilst counterculture pioneer and seasoned campaigner Spain Rodriguez tellingly dissects all stripes of ‘Faith-Based Terrorism’ and Mac McGill offers up another evocative expression of architectural Armageddon in ‘IX XI MMI’

A discussion of Global Economy and the New World Empire begins with a strident lesson from Nichole Schulman in ‘Fossil Fuel’, whilst Kuper examines the concepts of war for oil in ‘Bombs Away’ and Tom Tomorrow lampoons government rhetoric and corporate Thinkspeak in ‘Are You a Real American?’ after which Chuck Sperry creates a visual icon for the new century in ‘Bush Hates Me’ and Tom Tomorrow hilariously peeks in on ‘Bush Dreams’.

The fertile soil is further ploughed by Sabrina Jones with the cruelly poetic ‘Chronicle of the New Crusade’, and Art Spiegelman doles out a strong dose of satire in his oil-mainlining Uncle Sam pastiche ‘Roll Up Your Sleeves, America!’, which is followed by Kuper’s infamous and controversial ‘Richie Bush in Hell’s Bells’ parody.

By brilliantly employing Harvey Comics’ Richie Rich character, the artist engendered the disapproval of US Customs who subsequently seized copies of this strip when it was reprinted in Slovenian magazine Stripburger

This chapter closes with ‘Talking Liberties (cover #34)’ by Mirko Ilic and a montage of various works and public events in ‘WW3 Arts in Action’.

Promised Land? examines the ongoing Israeli- Palestinian Conflict, beginning with ‘Casting Stones’ by Drooker before Kuper bares his heart and soul recounting his many trips to Israel and how the country devolved to a point and state he could no longer recognise in ‘Promised Land’, after which Sabrina Jones shares her own personal experiences of time in the Holy Land in ‘Fear and Firecrackers’.

‘Art Against the Wall’ is an photo-illustrated essay by Eric Drooker describing the construction, impact upon and creative response to Israel’s “Security Wall” by the Palestinians it imprisons and isolates; a subject then expanded upon in cartoon form in Tobocman’s biting ‘The Serpent of State’

Iniquities affecting the wider world come to the fore in Going Global, beginning with ‘The Quiet Occupation’ by Nicole Schulman, examining through specific, documented case histories, the incredible “Get Out of Jail Free” policy afforded to the American military in South Korea under SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement).

This appalling legislation has, since 1967, afforded absolute immunity to US personnel facing prosecution for crimes against the indigenous population ranging from theft and environmental damage to rape and murder…

The case of a San Salvadoran kid unfairly deported follows in Carlo Quispe’s ‘Pulgarcito de las Americas’, as does Jordan Worley’s provocative ‘Land and Liberty (cover #27)’, before a selection from Kuper’s visual diary of life in Mexico – specifically the brutal suppression of a Teacher’s strike – rounds out the chapter in ‘Oaxaca, Oaxaca’

The horrendous scandal of New Orleans’ Federal abandonment is covered in After the Flood, commencing with an emphatic if subjective impression of ‘Katrina’ by McGill, after which volunteer worker Christopher Cardinale records his thoughts and interactions with hurricane survivors in ‘Coming Together’, whilst McGill records the fate of ‘Mrs. Spencer’s Home’ and Tobocman details the resilience of the people who returned in ‘Post Katrina 2nd Line’

Attempting to end on lighter terms, Modern Times features outrageous and unbelievable exposé ‘On the Tea Party Trail’ by Kuper, then pictorialises the fine, independent folk of ‘Madison Wisconsin’ courtesy of Susan Semensky Bietila, before Tobocman & Jessica Wehrle delve in detail into the early moments of the ‘Occupy the City’ movement capped by another photo feature of ‘WW3 Arts in Action’ and Drooker’s sublime ‘May Day’ poster.

To add context to the collection Time Line then traces the history of World War 3 Illustrated through a short history of the planet since 1970, augmented by a stunning cover gallery of key issues of the magazine…

The most disheartening thing about this magnificent book is the realisation that so many of these issues – such as globalisation, one-percentism, women’s rights to equal pay and control of their own bodies, the maltreatment and exploitation of prison inmates, the disenfranchisement of African Americans and so much more – are still as being as keenly contested today as they ever were… although surely that’s only a reason to fight even harder and more creatively?

This is a book that belongs in every library and on every school bookshelf, and it most certainly needs to be in the hands of every person who dreams of a fairer, better world…

© 2014 World War 3 Illustrated, Inc. All art, photos and text © 2014, to the individual artists. All rights reserved.

Cork High and Bottle Deep

By Virgil Partch, Edited by Jonathan Barli (Fantagraphics Books)
ISBN: 978-1-60699-664-5

Virgil Parch is possibly the greatest of those almost forgotten key men of comedy cartooning: a pervasive creative force who worked away tirelessly for years, making people laugh and slowly, steadily changing the very look and nature of the industry.

Although largely forgotten these days, Virgil Franklin Partch II (1926-2004) is probably one of the most influential and successful of all American cartoonists.

His arch, absurd, rude, sly, subtle, skewed, whacky and astoundingly unique gags, strips, stories and animated shorts were generated with machine gun rapidity from a seemingly inexhaustible well of comedy excess, which could be rendered in a variety of styles which utterly revolutionised the American publishing from the moment in 1941 that the artist switched from a Walt Disney Studio ideas-man to freelance gag-maker.

He is most well regarded for his cavalier abandonment of traditional form and anatomy. Partch is the guy who liberated gag-cartooning from the bonds of slavish attention to body detail: replacing broadly human shape and proportion with a wildly free and frenetic corporeal expressionism – perhaps even symbolism – which captivated legions of fellow artists and generations of fun-starved readers. This is the guy who made 19 fingers on one hand work…

Following 2013’s VIP – The Mad World of Virgil Partch– asuperbly comprehensive art book/biography – comes this themed collection of his most arch, dark and absurd gag panels all devoted to his favourite hobby and avocation: the heroic and determined downing of strong liquor…

This glorious pocket-sized (174 x 174mm) hardback collection gathers – in colour and black-&-white – the vast majority of his hootch-flavoured (and, perhaps, often -inspired) party favours, ranging from the antics of barflies and boozy babes to the aggravated effects of a lifetime of dedicated tippling and how to offset or escape them…

Subtitled “Amidst the stormy seas of booze, with your faithful skipper, the mad Vipper” the first section focuses on the general run of alcohol-induced visions starring blurry, cheery, dreary, maudlin and dumbfounded imbibers of every class and station as well as the long-suffering worldly-wise barkeeps who attend them; an often (literally) staggering precession of invention, surreal acceptance and inevitable regret, ranging from atrocious visual puns to bewilderingly brilliant observations.

The general carousing is followed by a steady stream of themed sections beginning with an astoundingly visually inventive succession of suggestions on The Hangover… and Some Cures, complete with a sneaky subsection of .descriptive diagnoses of particular brain seizures ranging from the ‘Thirsty-Bedouin Hangover’ to the ‘God! Is that Me? or Hallucination Case’

Assuming you survive that, the blinding switch to full painted colour will shock you sober enough for ‘VIP Views The Drink as seen by…’; a savage selection of interested parties including The Bartender, The Wife and The Guy On the Wagon

Digging deeper, the artist then invites you to observe fizzy, happy people at ‘Dr. Freud’s Cocktail Party’ displaying Introversion, Exhibitionism , Wish Fulfilment, Hallucination, Rejection and a host of other “isms”, after another large round of general gags and panels runs into ‘VIP’s Tips: How to Taper Off…’

Virgil Partch possessed an eternally refilling reservoir of comedy imagination and a unique visual perspective which made him a true catalyst of cartoon change, and Fantagraphics Books have once again struck pure gold by reviving, commemorating and celebrating this lost legend of cartooning.

Best of all, this is an astoundingly funny collection: a wealth of outrageously funny, deliciously barbed funny drawings and clever ideas as powerfully hilarious now as they ever were, and all brilliantly rendered by a master draughtsman no connoisseur of comedy can afford to miss.


© 2014 Fantagraphics Books. All rights reserved.

Phantoms of the Louvre

By Enki Bilal translated by Joe Johnson (NBM ComicsLit/Louvre: Musée du Louvre Éditions)
ISBN: 978-1-56163-841-3

A few years ago the legendary Louvre Museum in Paris began an intriguing and extremely rewarding collaboration with the world of comics, and their latest beguiling translated bande dessinée is now available in English courtesy of those fine folks at NBM.

Phantoms of the Louvre is a lush and beautiful, oversized hardback graphic art book which reproduces the stunning results of master storyteller Bilal’s creative response to the collected treasures and even architecture of the prestigious institution.

The origins and details of the project are described in his Preface and the 22 artworks which resulted had their own exhibition in the Louvre in 2013.

The premise is delightfully simple: each item and place in the galleries is blessed or afflicted by a ghost somehow attached to an item which affected their lives or passing, and Bilal incorporates a photo of each artefact with an image of the ghost.

The story of every phantom is then told in poetic prose augmented by photos, sketches and designs of the revenant in question…

Enes Bilalović AKA Enki Bilal was born in Belgrade in 1951, breaking into French comics in 1972 with Le Bal Maudit for Pilote. Throughout the 1970s he grew in skill and fame, and achieved English-language celebrity once his work began appearing in America’s Heavy Metal magazine.

Best known for his self-scripted Nikopol Trilogy (Gods in Chaos, The Woman Trap and Cold Equator) his other bleakly beguiling and ferociously contemplative works include Ship of Stone, The Town That Didn’t Exist, Exterminator 17, Four?, Magma, Julia & Roem and many, many more. In recent years Bilal returned to contemporary political themes with his much-lauded, self-penned Hatzfeld Tetralogy…

As always, the work is produced in close collaboration with the forward-looking authorities of the Musée du Louvre, but this is no gosh-wow, “Night-at-the-Museum”, thinly-concealed catalogue of contents from a stuffy edifice of public culture. Rather, here is a gripping, intense, informative and insightful glimpse into the power of art and history as engines of imagination and personal obsession.

Weaving fact into an imaginary tapestry of fictions detailing the putative lives of those affected by or affecting the creation of the inspirational treasures, the stunning procession of lost souls leads off with ‘Aloyisias Alevratos’ inspired by The Winged Victory of Samothrace, detailing an ancient sculptor’s history whilst ‘Antonio Di Aquila’ recounts the short, tragic life of one of Leonardo da Vinci’s assistants/models during the period when the master painted the Portrait of Lisa Gherardini, wife of Francesco Del Giocondo, called Mona Lisa, La Gioconda or La Joconde

‘Enheduana Arwi-A’ was a remarkable woman who engraved part of the tablet containing The Code of Hammurabi whilst ‘Arjuna Asegaff’ turned a troubled life around to become a popular model who posed for Baron Pierre-Narcisse Guérin’s The return of Marcus Sextus and ‘Analia Avellaneda’ developed a new pigment which fascinated Doménikos Theotókopoulous, called “El Greco” during the creation of Saint Louis, King of France and a Page, but cost the tragic lady her life…

‘Ahmose Chepseset’ was a crazed vandal in ancient Egypt whose actions despoiled much of the relic dubbed Man’s Head, vengeful half-caste ‘Djeynaba’ was a near-supernatural blight who tainted the Red Rooms and unrepentant Nazi ‘Colonel Markus Dudke’ killed himself in The Grand Gallery

‘Lantelme Fouache’ was the brutal father whose murder inspired Eugene Delacriox’ The Orphan Girl at the Cemetery whilst fisherman ‘Jacobus Grobbendoeke’ was recovered from the sea and incorporated into The Fish Market (after) Frans Snyders, whilst illicit woman warrior ‘Hecuba’ wore the Corinthian-style helmet as part of her imposture of a male hoplite seven centuries before Christ.

A doomed childhood love touched ‘Melencoloia Hrasny’ and Albrecht Dürer which resulted in a famed Portrait of the Artist whereas ill-fated Janissary ‘Zvonimir Karakasevic’ suffered a slow death which led to his becoming a forgotten component of sculptor Jean-Baptiste Pigalle’s Voltaire Nude. Poor farm boy ‘Lakshek’ had more affinity for the bovines which inspired the Human-headed Winged Bull than the cruel, callous men who carved it…

Roman soldier ‘Longinus’ used his spear to wound the crucified Messiah depicted as Christ Dead, the Amazon ‘Marpada’ adored her equine companions – as exemplified by the marble Horse Head – far more than men and ‘Gaius Livius Maximus’ was a doctor of Rome who ended his own life upon the ancient Bed on display here.

‘Bella De Montefalco’ was the childish accidental instigator of a grotesque crime of passion hinted at in The Shadows of Francesca da Rimini and Paolo Malatesta Appear to Dante and Virgil by Ary Scheffer, but professional duellist ‘Lyubino Nuzri’ was a willing killer who met his fate in the forever after haunted Alcove Room, and the ‘The Regodesebes Twins’ mere tools of destiny whose cruel deaths only tangentially affected The Countess Del Carpio, Marquessa de La Solana as portrayed by Francisco de Goya y Lucietes shortly before her own demise…

A criminal and beast in human form, butcher ‘Willem Tümpeldt’ provided The Slaughtered Ox immortalised by Rembrandt Harmenszoon Van Rijn but Muslim artist ‘Doura Ximenez’ had to dress as a man and remain unknown to craft the anonymous Supposed Portrait of Gabrielle d’Estrées and her sister the Duchess de Villars which concludes this tour of the night galleries…

With detailed floor plan maps showing where the art works, rooms and artefacts referenced are displayed, this is a truly magical collection that no art lover or devotee of the medium can afford to miss…

© 2012 Futuropolis/Musée du Louvre Éditions. © NBM 2014 for the English translation by Joe Johnson. All rights reserved.

The Blighted Eye – Original Comic Art from the Glenn Bray Collection

By many and various (Fantagraphics Books)
ISBN: 978-1-60699-695-9

When I talk about the field and art form of comics the intent is generally to celebrate and advertise the triumphs and talents of writers and artists – or maybe colourists, letterers or even publishers – but almost never about consumers.

However there are people who just read comics and there are those whose passion for the medium goes even deeper. These individuals have as much – or maybe even more – to do with shaping and promoting our medium than all the rest…

Paramount amongst those is Glenn Bray, whose fascination for illustrated narrative encompasses comics, collector cards, film and wrestling ephemera, music, outsider art and in fact most aspects of popular culture.

He is a driven champion of modern creativity and amongst his greatest passions is an undiagnosed compulsion to collect original art.

Bray was in on the start of the Underground Commix revolution, smuggling comics to stores back when they were still illegal. He’s the guy who first brought Carl Barks out of retirement and bought his very first Duck painting, showed us young kids the astounding art of Basil Wolverton and won belated fame for retired sculptor, draughtsman and philosopher Stanislav Szukalski.

The inveterate fan’s been quietly amassing mementos and knowledge from his California home since 1965 and has subsequently become the premiere cultural archivist, educator, publisher and patron of some of the most influential artists in graphics and sequential art. He also cherishes the works of creators we’ve forgotten and those who should be famous but just aren’t.


Moreover, by befriending, interviewing, recording and always freely sharing his collection and studies of the people he’s admired – and often supported – Bray established the basis for most of today’s scholastic and journalistic resources and records, used by practically all of us expounding and propounding the joys of comics and illustrative narrative.

This astounding monolithic hardback (410 gleaming, glossy 302 x 268mm pages with some eye-popping 6-stage fold-outs) is teeming with photos of people, places and things that have captivated the preserver of everything our bigoted teachers, pontificating, bastions of the Old Guard and smug Social Betters always told us had no worth, merit or value…

Most importantly of course (for us here at least) are his hundreds of examples of art – all shot here from the originals in Bray’s frankly unbelievable collection – a veritable museum (and feeling as heavy as one) of genius in your hands: a pantheon of comics achievement, each and every one gathered and preserved for only one reason: because Glenn liked it…

Illustration superstar Robert Williams’ historical biography ‘The Archive of Lost Souls’ starts the show, after which author and publisher Todd Hignite offers an informative commentary in ‘Who Enters Here Leaves Hope Behind’, but the true nature and devotion of the collector really comes through in ‘The Glenn Bray Interview’ by Doug Harvey (artist and Art Critic for the LA Times and Art Issues) before the true wonder unfolds in the exotic, eclectic, picture-packed pages which follow.

This is an imposing and shockingly beautiful compendium no lover of the medium could possibly ignore, and it’s not all Bray has in terms of Art, artefacts, funny books or ephemera. Perhaps there’s a sequel or companion compendium to come…

That’s how I usually wrap up one of these reviews and it should be enough to convince you to get The Blighted Eye immediately if not sooner, but I’d kick myself if I didn’t list the artists whose works appear here.

So, whether a single page and/or panel or many different pieces, each of these masters and journeymen deserve a mention and you can read on or stop here.

Charles Addams, Rick Altergott, Bob Armstrong, Boris Artzybasheff, Carl Barks (so wonderfully many), Art Bartsch, H.M. Bateman Hand Bellmer, Mark Beyer, Jack Bilbo, Gene Bilbrew, Mahlon Blaine, Al Bryant, R.O. Blechman and Charles Burns.

Ernesto Cabral, E.H. Caldwell Studio, Al Capp, Serge Clerc, Dan Clowes, Ron Cobb, Jack Cole (another host of stunning volume and variety), Astley David Montague Cooper, Robert Crumb, Xavier Cugat, Jack Davis, Gene, Kim and Simon Deitch.

Bray was instrumental in popularising the European Krampus tradition and ‘Devil Cards’ features a sub-exhibition of examples of the Christmas Devil by Kim Deitch, Coop, Bob Armstrong, Spain, Mark Beyer, Carol Lay, Charles Burns, Drew Friedman, Rick Griffin, Hunt Emerson, Jan Ross, Gary Leib, Robert Williams, Bill Ward, J.D. King, Evert Geradts, XNO, S. Clay Wilson, Crumb, Ever Meulen, Peter Pontiac, Savage Pencil, Norman Pettingill, Byron Werner & Karl Wills.

The greater precession resumes with Gustave Doré, Pascal Doury, Albert Durbout, Bill Elder, Vince Fago, John Fawcett, Al Feldstein, Virgil Finlay, Kelly Freas, lots more Drew Friedman, Ernst Fuchs, a wealth of Evert Geradts, Eugenie Goldschmeding  Chester Gould and Vernon Grant.

Underground icon Justin Green is followed by a quartet of stylish noir book covers by Gerald Gregg and many pieces by boon companion Rick Griffin plus pieces by Bill Griffith, Milt Gross, George Grosz, Olaf Gulbrannson, V.T. Hamlin, Harman Ising Productions, Yoshifumi Hayashi, Geoffrey Hayes and tragic underground pioneer Rory Hayes.

There’s Russ Heath, Jaime Hernandez, George Herriman, Ryan Heshka, Al Hirshfeld, Alfred Hitchcock (yes really! Him!). Then see some Bill (Smokey Stover) Holman, Lawrence Hubbard, Graham Ingels, Cameron Jamie, Russ Johnson, Daniel Johnston, Andrew Jones, Kaz, Ota Keiti, Hank Ketchum, Frank King, Marian Konarski, Bernie Krigstein and the inimitable Harvey Kurtzman.

Stanley Link, Lippert Pictures, Bobby London, Travis Louie, Jay Lynch, Don Martin, Jefferson Machamer, Donald McGill, Otto Mesmer, Ever Meulen, Zach Mosely, Willard Mullin, Alan Odle, Jim Osborne and much, much Gary Panter.

A stunning selection of vintage Virgil Partch is followed by Mervyn Peake, Savage Pencil and Norman Pettingill. Dutch master Peter Pontiac follows, as does Richard Powers, George Price, Roger Price and Jacques Pyon as well as Gardner Rea, Bruno Richard, W. Heath Robinson and Charles Rodrigues.

See also Jan Ross, Big Daddy Roth, Antonio Rubino, Jenny Ryan and the iconoclastic Johnny Ryan. Bud Sagendorf, F. San Millan, Charles Schneider, Charles Schulz, Jim Shaw, Gilbert Shelton, Marc Smeets, Clark Ashton Smith, Otto Soglow, “Spain” Rodriguez, Irving Spector, Cliff Sterrett, G.E. Studdy, Joost Swarte, Stanislav Szukalski, Richard Taylor, Roy Tomkins, Jill Tipping, Tomi Ungerer and Irving Tripp & John Stanley.

Next follows another fascinating sub-section devoted to ‘Unknown Artists’ listed by a single nom-de-plume – just their work or no name – which includes Bubba ‘69, Heilman, J. Ford, D.C. Lucchesi, J. Kennedy, Jaro, Kringo, Mr. Harrell Lee Littrel, P.J. McGivern, David Moore, Panchi, Dennis Rushton, R.H.L., Smith, E.A. Sojay and Weird Wanda (Doreen Ross).

Our voyage of discovery recommences with stuff from Jeffrey Vallance, Hans Van Bentem, Bob Van Den Born, Vica (Vincent Krazousky), George William Wakefield, Ray Walters, Bill Ward, Chris Ware, Byron Werner, a sublime spread of Ogden Whitney ‘Herbie’ pages, Gluyas Williams, Robert Williams, Skip Williamson, Karl Wills, Gahan Wilson, S. Clay Wilson, an apocalyptic selection of Basil Wolverton masterworks, Lawson Wood, Wallace Wood, Jim Woodring, XNO, cartoon colossus Art Young and Bob Zoell.

Surely after reading all that you need some great pictures to look at? So go buy the book and ease your Blighted Eye…

The Blighted Eye © 2014 Fantagraphics Books. All images © 2014 their respective creators or Estates where appropriate. All rights reserved.