Let’s take a quick look to see what’s arrived in the mail here at the Geek Compound.
It Was the War of the Trenches by Jacques Tardi
Tardi’s World War I masterpiece finally in English! World War I, that awful, gaping wound in the history of Europe, has long been an obsession of Jacques Tardi’s. (His very first—rejected—comics story dealt with the subject, as does his most recent work, the two-volume Putain de Guerre.) But It Was the War of the Trenches is Tardi’s defining, masterful statement on the subject, a graphic novel that can stand shoulder to shoulder with Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front and Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms.
Tardi is not interested in the national politics, the strategies, or the battles. Like Remarque, he focuses on the day to day of the grunts in the trenches, and, with icy, controlled fury and disgust, with sardonic yet deeply sympathetic narration, he brings that existence alive as no one has before or since. Yet he also delves deeply into the underlying causes of the war, the madness, the cynical political exploitation of patriotism. And in a final, heartbreaking coda, Tardi grimly itemizes the ghastly human cost of the war, and lays out the future 20th century conflicts, all of which seem to spring from this global burst of insanity.
Trenches features some of Tardi’s most stunning artwork. Rendered in an inhabitually lush illustrative style, inspired both by abundant photographic documentation and classic American war comics, augmented by a sophisticated, gorgeous use of Craftint tones, trenches is somehow simultaneously atypical and a perfect encapsulation of Tardi’s mature style. It is the indisputable centerpiece of Tardi’s oeuvre.
It Was the War of the Trenches has been an object of fascination for North American publishers: RAW published a chapter in the early 1980s, and Drawn and Quarterly magazine serialized a few more in the 1990s. But only a small fraction of Trenches has ever been made available to the English speaking public (in now out of print publications); the Fantagraphics edition, the third in an ongoing collection of the works of this great master, finally remedies this situation. 120 pages of black-and-white comics.
Considering this book’s reputation and the fact that the previous two Tardi reprints from Fantagraphics both made their way into my top five books of 2009 listing, I’m eager to read this one.
Newave!: The Underground Mini Comix of the 1980s Edited by Michael Dowers
The very best from comicdom’s DIY/zine heyday! Just a few of the names included herein: Jeff Gaither, Michael Roden, Wayno, Artie Romero, Brad Foster, Fred Hembeck, Mary Fleener, The Pizz, Rick Geary, Dennis Worden, Steve Willis, Roy Tompkins, Tom Christopher, XNO, Clay Geerdes, Bob X, Jim Siergey, J.R. Williams, Jim Blanchard, Norman Dog, Molly Kiely, Mack White, Daniel Clowes, Doug Allen, Art Penn, Sam Henderson, Gary Whitney, George Erling, Bob Vojtko, Doug Potter, David Miller, Jim Ryan, Par Holman, Roger May, Meher Dada, Wayne Gibson, Tom Motley, Marc Arsenault, Ion, Bruce Chrislip, Dale Luciano, C. Bradford Gorby, Robin Ator, Douglas O’Neil, C. E. Emmer, Kurt Wilcken, Doug Holverson, Jamie Alder, Tom Hosier, Steven Noppenberger, W.C. Pope, Jim Gillespie, John Howard, Tucker Petertil, Gary Lieb, Bob Conway, and Jim Thompson.
Newave! is a gigantic collection of the best small press cartoonists to emerge in the 1970s after the first generation of underground cartoonists (such as R. Crumb, Gilbert Shelton, and Art Spiegelman) paved the way. These cartoon¬ists, inspired by the freewheeling creative energy of the underground commix movement, began drawing and printing their own comix. The most popular format was an 8 1/2” x 11” sheet, folded twice, and printed at local, pre-Kinkos print shops on letter-size paper; because of the small size, they were dubbed “mini comix.” As they evolved many different artists, one by one, became interested in this do-it-yourself phenomenon. By the 1980’s they became known as Newave Comix, a term taken from England’s Newave rock ’n’ roll movement. An explosion of do-it-yourself artists emerged. Many talented artists went onto bigger and better things, others have disappeared into the fog never to be heard from again. Inspired by the creative freedom of their underground predecessors and unrestrained by commercial boundaries or editorial edicts, their work was particularly innovative and experimental. Here you will find a group of artists who could not get any attention from the mainstream, who were driven by the inner need to express themselves. This group was a pioneering force that still leaves a wake and an imprint on the alternative comix scene today.
Newave! features over 700 pages of comics, as well as a historical introduction by editor Michael Dowers, and interviews with several of the more prominent artists featured, such as Brad Foster, Artie Romero, Steve Willis, Dennis Worden, Bob X, J.R. Williams, Roger May, Tom Hosier, George Erling, and Bob Vojtko. Black-and-white illustrations throughout with 16 pages of full-color.
An impressive collection with an abundance of Texas contributors!
King of the Flies: 1. Hallorave Art by Mezzo Story by Pirus
Suburban horror delineated in a lush noir style. Set in a suburb that is both nowhere and everywhere, King of the Flies is a glorious bastard, combining the intricacy and subtlety of the best European graphic novels with a hyperdetailed, controlled noir style derived from the finest American cartoonists.
Mezzo and Pirus, previously best known in Europe for a series of cynical, brutal gangster stories, have abandoned their guns and gals for this cycle of suburban stories, but in King of the Flies the violence has just (for the most part) been interiorized.
King of the Flies first appears to be a series of unrelated short stories, each starring (and narrated by) a different protagonist, but it soon becomes obvious that these seemingly disparate episodes weave together to form a single complex narrative, with events that are only glimpsed (or even referred to) revisited from different perspectives—revolving around Eric, a ne’er-do-well, drug-taking teenager at war with his stepfather and, apparently, the whole world. (He is the titular King.)
King of the Flies is designed as a trilogy of albums, which will combine to form a single graphic novel of stunning intricacy and intensity. (Vol. 2, “The Beginning of All Things,” will be released by Fantagraphics in the Summer of 2010.) 64 color illustrations.
I’ll admit to ignorance regarding this graphic novel and its creators. But with an intriguing story description, beautiful art, and Fantagraphics’ extraordinary track record of offering quality works, I’m looking forward to diving into this one.