Today's Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "Congress of the Animals is a beautifully illustrated modern fable, which manages to say more without words, than most graphic novels can with hundreds of words. The tale rewards repeat readings, with each successive exposure to the story revealing new and interesting details that were not at first apparent. Woodring has really outdone himself here, and has created the finest work of his career. This is a strong contender for graphic novel of the year, if not the decade!" – Edward Kaye, Hypergeek
• Plug: "…Jim Woodring has created a universe that is as unique as it is brilliant…. Congress of the Animals is due out at the end of May and without knowing anything about it I’m certain that it will be worth owning. If his last book Weathercraft is anything to go by you’ll probably read through the full book in one sitting and then spend weeks thinking about the terrifying images that you saw there." – Phillip Buchan, Starburst Magazine (registration required)
• Review: "Approximate Continuum Comics is a black and white collection of stories that feel different, but are still distinctly Trondheim…. The fact is, there aren't too many cartoonists who can do this kind of work today, period. And there weren't many who could do it a decade ago, which is how old this material is…. At $19 for 144 pages' worth of material, the book is worth the price. As usual, Fantagraphics goes out of its way to design something nice here…" – Augie De Blieck Jr., Comic Book Resources
• Review: "…[T]he adventures [in Take a Joke] start at an outrageousness level that’s over-the-top and go north of there, until they climb higher, then scale a wall, then take an elevator, then an escalator, and finally jump real high. They never, ever come down…. In any other artist’s hands, I’d probably hate the damn thing. But Ryan’s cartoon style… makes the filth seem innocent, as if the deviant behavior within his panels [is] perfectly acceptable…. While I admit I found some it very, very funny, I’ll never be able to look at a bottle of A-1 sauce the same way again. Or Robert Crumb, Yogi Bear and The New Yorker, all of whom take quite the licking. Licking just what, I leave to you to discover on your own. – Rod Lott, Bookgasm
• Review: "The protagonist in Fantagraphics Books new Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse: Race to Death Valley isn't your father's Mickey Mouse. It's your grandfather's. These early newspaper strips, beginning in 1930, by Floyd Gottfredson… show a character who seeks out adventure, gets in fights, jumps from speeding trains, steals a car and chases after bad guys out west…. Gottfredson's drawings are just about perfect…. The artist could capture both the excitement… and the wit…" – Michael Chevy Castranova, The Sparrow Papers
• Review: "…[O]ne could not have asked for a better presentation, with the reproduction about as good as it gets for 80-year-old comic strips, and a veritable plethora of extras…. It's rather startling… to see the amount of depth we get in these comic strips presented here…. I also found the language in these strips extraordinary…. To sum up, anyone who likes Disney, cartoons, or comic strips will find tons of things to love about [Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Vol. 1: Race to Death Valley]. The comics are exciting adventure strips for the most part, though there's a lot of standard 'gag' stuff as well…. A terrific book, highly recommended." – Sean Gaffney, A Case Suitable for Treatment (via The Comics Reporter)
• Plug: At the Forbidden Planet International blog, Wim Lockefeer comments on our Guy Peellaert publishing news: "You don’t need to know that Jodelle and Pravda were based respectively on French chanseuses Sylvie Vartan and Françoise Hardy to enjoy these books, and I think they will prove to be a very good addition to Fantagraphics’ continually growing library of classic comics from round the world."
• Interview: At Comics Bulletin, Jason Sacks talks to Shannon Wheeler about Oil & Water and shares some never-before-seen artwork from the book: "A lot of our goals had to do with keeping the environmental disaster on the radar nationally, saying 'This is something that what we did that's a travesty,' basically, and 'How do we keep paying attention to it so it gets cleaned up and never happens again?' It's a big deal."
• Book Club: If you would like to take part in a recorded podcast discussion about Jason & Fabien Vehlmann's Isle of 100,000 Graves on Saturday, head over to Inkstuds to find out the details (and of course we'll let you know when the recording is posted)