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Eddie Campbell reviews Screwball for The Comics Journal:

Screwball follows an isolated strain of comics history as opposed to those other books that tell the whole lot decade by decade or by lining up a canon of masters. Which is not say it isn’t linear: from Fred Opper to Boody Rogers, editor Paul Tumey locates fifteen cartoonists in a singular furrow, giving each a solid apportionment of twenty pages, some besides, some beneath. A species of humor is Tumey’s theme, the zany zest that made the comics an event that had not happened before: the nutty, the loony, the madcap and the high nonsense. “Nov schmoz ka pop” as Ahern’s little hitch-hiker said, and it loses none of its power and profundity when I say it here.

This is THE comics history book of 2019. As Bud Plant used to say: “It gets my highest recommendation.” As reviewer Eddie notes, it follows a timeline; but the chapters are broken into individual cartoonists. While there are some references to earlier chapters, reading those is not essential to the following sections. I jumped in with the penultimate featured cartoonist Ving Fuller, and then jumped around to those previously given shorter shrift in earlier histories: Hoban, Bradford, Swanson, Mager, Ahern (okay, Ahern is well-known, but I couldn’t resist). I’m saving the BIG NAMES for later. Not yet halfway through and I’m already impatient for Screwball Part Too!


If there is one fault with the above Screwball book it is that there is no index. So when I wanted a smooth transition to this next book I knew I would use a Paul Tumey quote from Screwball. But then I had to remember in which chapter the quote was; no small feat for a bear of very little brain such as myself. So here, from the Boody Rogers chapter, is the quote:

“The first years of Cecil Jensen’s Elmo offered superb silliness.”

And those years of “suberb silliness” of Elmo are now collected between two covers.

Evan Lewis reviews the first Elmo collection at Davy Crockett’s Almanack.


Speaking of silliness…

Beagles in Space!

BOOM! Studios today revealed a first look at SNOOPY: A BEAGLE OF MARS, an all-new original graphic novel in partnership with Peanuts Worldwide, that launches the world’s most beloved beagle on his grandest adventure yet! Snoopy embarks on an exploratory mission to Mars in this original graphic novel written by Jason Cooper, illustrated by Robert Pope and colored by Hannah White, and available in stores December 2019.

Comics Beat carries the preview and more information.


Twenty-one years after Bark, George, Jules Feiffer will follow up with Smart George!

“Jules Feiffer is a legend, and we’re honored to be publishing the sequel to a beloved classic,” said Suzanne Murphy, president and publisher of HarperCollins Children’s Books. Since its publication, Bark, George has sold more than 300,000 hardcover copies and has been translated into seven languages worldwide. It holds a place on the New York Public Library’s list of 100 Great Children’s Books.

Publishers Weekly shares the news.


Raina Rules

Not so much a review as an in-depth examination of Raina Telgemeier‘s oeuvre in general and Guts, her latest, in particular.

Telgemeier’s work may feature a child-protagonist and may be read by children, but her compositional complexity within and across her autobiographical graphic narratives is as thoughtful and nuanced as the comics medium permits. By formulating difficult subject matters like illness, fear, social power dynamics, identity, and mortality in a verbal-visual medium like comics, Telgemeier demonstrates the interconnected layers, understandings, and intricacies of these complex subjects in an easily digestible and appealing manner. It is Telgemeier’s mastery of the comics form that lends work like Guts its universal appeal, its widespread popularity, and makes her work highly deserving of sustained attention and further critical inquiry.

An appreciation of Guts by Irene Velentzas for The Comics Journal.

I haven’t read Raina’s books. What I do know is the 13-year-old in my life has followed her autobiographical books for years, and when I recently gifted him with Guts for his birthday he put away his video games and dove right into the book; and didn’t emerge from the book until he had read the entirety of it.


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