Fantagraphics January Newsletter

2021 is behind us, long live 2022! We have no idea what’s in store for us this year, but we do know one thing: there will be plenty of good comics! Keep reading for a first look at the excellent titles we’re ringing in the new year with (plus a sneak peek at our newest t-shirt design)—in the meantime, here’s the news roundup:

  • Two Fantagraphics titles made it onto the New York Times list of the best graphic novels of 2021: Crisis Zone by Simon Hanselmann (which Ed Park deemed “the first great work of pandemic fiction”) and I Never Promised You a Rose Garden by Mannie Murphy (“It’s an uncomfortable, beguiling read, and its wrinkled theme-book pages give it the aura of a forbidden text.”)!
  • Speaking of best books of the year, Variety chose Monsters by Barry Windsor-Smith as one of their top ten graphic novels of the year: “Filled with obsessively-detailed artwork and a pervasive sense of loss, Monsters is that rarest of things: a deconstruction of the superhero genre that gives to the source material more than it takes.”
  • Monsters also made it onto Geekcast Radio’s roundup of the top 100 graphic novels of 2021, along with I Never Promised You a Rose Garden by Mannie Murphy, Zig Zag by Will Sweeney, Red Room by Ed Piskor, Crisis Zone by Simon Hanselmann, Stone Fruit by Lee Lai, and Young Shadow by Ben Sears!
  • Ho Che Anderson was inducted into the Canadian Comic Book Hall of Fame! We’ve been fortunate to publish quite a few of his fantastic books, including Godhead (which Library Journal deemed “mind-dazzling) and King, a graphic biography of Martin Luther King, Jr. that Time called “rare and vital”. We’re so proud, the honor is well-deserved!
  • Honolulu Magazine published a beautiful interview with R. Kikuo Johnson about No One Elsegrowing up on Maui, and his publishing journey.

January New Releases:

Blubber by Gilbert Hernandez

The great Gilbert Hernandez’s unfettered Id and imagination, unleashed! Absurd, explicit, and profanely funny, Blubber makes all other comics blush.

Collecting the first five issues of Gilbert Hernandez’s comic book series Blubber, an absurdly X-rated showcase for the most surreally transgressive of Hernandez’s short stories. Weirdos (Blubberoo, Mr. Elvis, John Dick, the Mentor), creatures (the Mau Guag, Doogs, and Orlats…), and anthropomorphs (the Cloarks, the Kekeppy) visit places where most comics fear to go. Blubber veers between an absurdist satire of porn (and occasionally nature documentaries) as well as a defiant provocation to those unable to appreciate the difference between cartooning and obscenity. As R. Crumb said, “It’s only lines on paper, folks!” It is also a howlingly funny book, filled with a rogues gallery of colorful comic book monsters (the Pollum, the Junipero Molestat, the mythical Forest Nimmy) and characters (T.A.C. Man, Mr. Hippy, Padre Puto, the Snowman, Baron Mungo, Red Tempest) that echoes the sheer visual imagination of Jack Kirby.

The True Story of the Unknown Soldier by Tardi, translated by Jenna Allen

Mad geniuses, Jules Verne-style deliriums, dinosaurs, sex, bloodshed, and the madness of World War I — two strange and surreal early works by a master of the comics form.

Fantagraphics presents two experimental, early works by the French cartooning legend Tardi. These comics, created in the mid-’70s, provide a fascinating preview of the masterworks of his prolific career. While they are not narratively linked, an eerie sense of foreboding suffuses stories in this collection: they both depict sex and brutal violence and condemn the horrors of war.

The True Story of the Unknown Soldier follows a pulp novelist turned soldier who, driven to delirium amidst the trenches of WWI, becomes tormented by visions of his own seedy creations. This stream-of-consciousness tale visualizes the tortured psyche of its protagonist through dazzling dreamscapes and surreal scenarios. In The National Razor, a soldier returns from war a shattered man. Drowning himself in drink, he wanders the streets of Paris without purpose; in this numb stupor, he finds himself caught up in strange situations, lashes out in unexpectedly violent ways, and ultimately meets with a bloody end. At once a visceral depiction of the trauma wrought by war and a powerful denunciation of the death penalty and France’s iconic guillotine.

Illustrating Spain in the US by Ana Merino, translated by Marta González Cutre

A dazzling combination of comics and essays sheds light on the rich but often overlooked contributions of Spanish immigrants to the political, cultural, and scientific history of the US.

Since the very founding of the United States, the country’s history has been intertwined with that of Spain’s, in many essential yet often overlooked ways. Illustrating Spain in the US brings together some of Spain’s most acclaimed cartoonists and scholars to celebrate and interrogate the contributions of Spanish immigrants to America’s political, cultural, and scientific history.

Diplomat Eduardo Garrigues and cartoonist Rayco Pulido resurrect the historical figure of Bernardo de Gálvez, who played a crucial role in the Revolutionary War. Professor James Fernández, Filmmaker Luis Argeo and artists Ana Penyas and Seisdedos bring to life the rollicking immigrant enclave of Tampa, once known as the “Cigar Capital of the World.” Professor Estrella de Diego and cartoonist Carla Berrocal shed light on the Spanish actors, screenwriters and musicians who broke into Hollywood and made their mark on American cinema. Professor María Dolores Jiménez-Blanco and cartoonist Max lead readers through the labyrinthine history of Spanish art collecting in the US, and the influence of Spanish art on popular American art movements. And much more! Combining the graphic expressiveness of comic art with the illuminating perspective of scholarly essays, this project aims to spark a creative dialogue about Spain’s legacy in the US.

January Events:

  • Saturday, January 8th, 6:00-11:00 pm PST: Artist Reception, The Visual Adventures of Robert Williams, Orange County Center for Contemporary Art, Santa Ana, CA. The exhibit (which also features work by artists influenced by Williams, including Johnny Ryan) runs through January 29th.
  • Wednesday, January 26th, 6:00-8:00 pm PST: R. Kikuo Johnson (No One Else) interview, Comix Experience, virtual
  • Friday, January 28th: Spain Rodriguez: Working Class Hero, curated by Dan Nadel, Andrew Edlin Gallery, New York, NY
  • Friday, January 28th, 6:30-7:30 pm CST: Ana Merino (Illustrating Spain in the US) Book Launch, Iowa City Public Library (hosted by Prairie Lights), Iowa City, IA

Available now: Fantagraphics x Ebbets Field Flannels ballcaps! These gorgeous blue and green baseball caps are in Ebbets’ trademark high-quality style, featuring wool-blend baseball flannel and a beautifully embroidered Fantagraphics logo and the Fantagraphics name over the brown leather adjustment band. These hats are available in a limited quantity for now, so grab yours while you can!

Feast your eyes on the very first sneak peek at our brand new George Herriman Krazy Kat and Ignatz T-Shirt! A timeless image from Krazy and Ignatz by George Herriman is featured on this soft, gold tee—this cartoon originally ran in a comic strip on September 10, 1914 and highlights why Herriman is considered one of the greatest cartoonists of all time! Stay tuned: this shirt is coming soon and we’ll make an announcement on social media when it’s available.