SDCC: Fantagraphics & Drawn and Quarterly Join Forces in San Diego

Team-ups aren't anything new in comics, and at Comic-Con International in San Diego, two literary comics publishers combined forces to share their upcoming slate of titles for 2013 and beyond. The panel included Gary Groth and Eric Reynolds from Fantagraphics Books, and Tracy Hurren and Julia Pohl-Miranda from Drawn and Quarterly.

Groth kicked off the panel by introducing Fantagrapics' fall line-up, which includes projects from "Wizzywig" creator Ed Piskor, "Maakies" creator Tony Millionaire and legendary "Peanuts" creator Charles Schulz.

Groth first discussed "Hip Hop Family Tree," the upcoming collection of Piskor's history of hip hop comic strip that's been serialized on Boing Boing.

"Ed Piskor is a cartoonist that I first became aware of when he drew strips for Harvey Pekar," Groth said. "He sort of stood out because Harvey Pekar would basically shanghai anybody who could hold a pencil, and most of the cartoonists were not particularly good cartoonists. Ed Piskor stood out because he had real cartoonist chops."

The first volume, due in October, covers the origins of hip hop in the early 1970s to the advent of MTV. The book is oversized; Groth said Piskor combined "the aesthetic of 'zine and that clunky Marvel treasury aesthetic of the 1970s."

Also due in October is the first volume of Charles Schulz's "Peanuts Every Sunday," a companion series to Fantagraphics' "Complete Peanuts" collections. It features an introduction by film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum.

"Peanuts Every Sunday" will collect the Sunday Peanuts newspaper strips in full color, with the first of ten oversized volumes collecting the strips from 1952 (when the Sunday strips started) to 1955. After that, each volume will collect five years worth of Sunday strips.

Each strip is being recolored by Joanne Bagge. "We didn't want to reproduce from the printed pages because we didn't want to give it that archival feel," Groth said. He described the coloring as "vibrant and muted."

Finally, November brings "Sock Monkey Treasury," which collects 344 pages of comics starring Millionaire's popular characters.

"It contains all 12 comic books that were originally published by Dark Horse," Reynolds said, adding that it also includes the graphic novel "The Inches Incident," the full-color "Uncle Gabby" and the storybook "The Glass Doorknob."

"'Sock Monkey' is not a kid's comic, but I have a five-year-old daughter who absolutely adores them," Reynolds said. "They're enjoyable for kids or adults -- just really great, whimsical adventures of this sock monkey and his friend, a crow. They live in a big Victorian house and just have these adventures through the house with the other toys."

Reynolds said they hope to release a new Sock Monkey book, titled "Sock Monkey in the Deep, Deep Woods," in time for next year's Comic-Con International.

Groth and Reynolds then turned the panel over to Hurren and Pohl-Miranda, who detailed Drawn and Quarterly's recent releases, starting with "Optic Nerve" #13. The latest issue of Adrian Tomine's series debuted at the convention and is now on sale in retail stores as well.

"We've published a ton of books by Adrian and we're going to publish as many as he has to put out," Pohl-Miranda said. "We love working with Adrian."

Issue #13 includes three standalone stories -- an autobiographical strip "sort of in the vein of his New Yorker comics or 'Scenes from an Impending Marriage' work" that features Adrian going to an art store; a strip called "Go Owls" that is a "dark comedy about two people who meet in a 12-step rehab program and end up in a relationship together;" and "Translated from the Japanese," in which Pohl-Miranda said Tomine is "using an innovative style that really builds on his illustration work."

September brings two new books from Drawn and Quarterly -- "Co-Mix" by Art Spiegelman and "Palookaville" #21 by Seth.

"Co-Mix" is "a retrospective of Art Spiegelman's career," Pohl-Miranda said. "It was originally put together to coincide with an exhibit that he did as a part of his presidency of the Angouleme comics festival in France. He originally threw this together as a catalog for the exhibition. And after he completed the catalog, which we published in a bilingual edition, he decided he wanted to rework it and expand it by including a lot more content."

The collection will include "a ton of stuff that has been out of print forever and ever and ever," Pohl-Miranda said, including covers from The New Yorker, sketches from "Maus," early drawings from when he was child and "Two-Fisted Painters," which has been out of print since it was originally published in RAW Magazine.

"Palookaville" #21 is the second volume of "Palookaville" to be presented as a hardcover. "This format works really well because it allows Seth to continue to serialize 'Clyde Fans' while still presenting readers with brand-new, standalone content," Hurren said.

This volume include three parts -- the next installment of "Clyde Fans," a look at Seth's rubber stamp diary and a sketchbook story about Seth's childhood, which includes his memories of cartooning as a child and the last time he kissed his mom goodbye. The book will debut at the Small Press Expo, which is set for Sept. 14-15.

Groth and Reynolds then turned to several new projects Fantagraphics is planning for 2014. First up was a new printing of Jim Woodring's "Jim," due out in July 2014, which will include new content and will be "approximately twice the size" of the volume Fantagraphics published 20 years ago, according to Groth.

"We wanted to publish a gigantic collection of all of Jim's non-'Frank' work, which is probably under-recognized," Groth said. "He's a great autobiographical cartoonist, and not an autobiographical cartoonist in traditional sense, because his work veers off into surreal elements, which is how Jim sees life."

Groth read part of an e-mail that he received from Woodring: "I know that some people get my work and like it, and some get it and don't like it. They find it unpleasantly solipsistic, narcissistic, masturbatory, selfish, creepy, weird and God only knows what else. I simply do not care. As far as I am concerned it is none of those things. My work is my love song to my true homeland, to the loving heart of the cosmos, which expresses itself to me in the only language I can understand."

Reynolds then announced that Fantagraphics will publish "Megahex" by Simon Hanselmann.

"If any of you know who he is, you probably know him from Tumblr," Reynolds said. "He creates these hilarious, surreal, slice-of-life strips about these two characters, Megg and Mogg. Megg is a witch, Mogg is an owl, and they basically just get stoned and hang around the house. That description is very apt, of course, but does not do it justice. It's absolutely hilarious work."

The 200-page collection will include new work in addition to strips he's published online. Reynolds said the collection will be published in time for next year's Comic-Con, "if not sooner."

Fantagraphics will also publish the first volume of "The Complete Comics of S. Clay Wilson" next June. "Wilson really put his work out there unmediated, and it was something that had never been done in comics before," Groth said.

The three-volume set will be edited by Patrick Rosenkranz, who is writing a biography that will run in all three volumes. The first volume, titled "Pirates in the Heartland: The Mythology of S. Clay Wilson," goes from the early 1960s through 1976. It includes strips from Wilson's teenage years about "pirates, space adventures, murderous vampires" as well as paintings from his college years and stories from "Zap Comix," "Snatch" and "Arcade Magazine," among others.

Finally, Reynolds announced a new book by Joe Sacco, who is known for his journalistic work, like "Palestine" and "Footnotes in Gaza." The new book, titled "Bumf 1: I Buggered the Kaiser," is a departure for the creator because it's humorous fiction.

"I talked to Joe and he didn't really want me to tell too much about it," Reynolds said. "He really just wants it to come out and let it land on you. He said, 'Just tell them that 'Bumf' will go where it wants to go and do what it wants to do.'"

Hurren took the microphone to discuss three new projects due from Drawn and Quarterly this winter. First up was "Rage of Poseidon," a 72-page"accordion book" by "Big Questions" creator Anders Nilsen.

"Anders has always created pretty epic works in the past, and I think 'Rage of Poseidon' really falls into that category," Hurren said. "It combines his interest in philosophy and religion and myth, which we saw in 'Big Questions,' in a style that's more similar to what's seen in 'Monologues for Calculating the Destiny of Black Holes,' although you can see the style's a little divergent from that, too, using silhouettes with very sparse backgrounds."

In November, Drawn and Quarterly will publish "Showa 1926-1939: A History of Japan" by Shigeru Mizuki. The 500-page volume will be packaged with an historical timeline and key facts about the events it describes.

"What's really interesting about this book is that it's got a really unique slant on history. It's not just historical fact," Pohl-Miranda said. She added that it will include some autobiographical material from Mizuki's childhood, and will be narrated by "the Rat Man," who has appeared in previous Mizuki works.

The last book discussed at the panel was "Ant Colony" by Michael DeForge, which collects his webcomic of the same name. It's due in January.

"On its surface, 'Ant Colony' is about a black ant colony that is under attack by red ants who are f'ed up on spider milk, which results in an epic battle scene and ultimately the end of the black ant colony," Hurren said. "So then the few survivors are faced with the challenge of how to move forward. Of course, on a deeper level, it's about a whole lot more. It really distills life down to the micro level, both literally and metaphorically, and makes the reader contemplate issues of our basic existence. And all the while, Michael is blowing your mind with his cartooning chops."

Stay tuned to CBR News for more on upcoming projects from Fantagraphics & Drawn and Quarterly.

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