Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New Comics, Fall 2010

This post will take a look at three new illustrated books that came out this October--nothing especially collectible, but highly recommended nonetheless.

Just this week, Charles Burns released his new book, the first of a three-part series called X'ed Out. It's really an outstanding work, simultaneously telling the story of a mopey art student and a completely insane hallucinatory re-imagining of Tintin. Fans of Tintin will remember a story called The Shooting Star, featuring an island of exploding eggs-turned-mushrooms... here's some of Burns's monsters making omelettes out of Herge's iconic eggs.

Also, Chris Ware's latest Acme Novelty Library is coming out next week. This installment revolves around a character named Jordan Lint, who's childhood, teens and twenties were previously serialized in Zadie Smith's Book of Other People and issues of the Virginia Quarterly Review. Acme Novelty Library #20 chronicles the entire life of Jordan Lint, from birth to death. Ware's ability to match his drawing style with Lint's mental capacity at certain ages (simplistic when he's a toddler, borderline ADD during Lint's teenage years) is stunningly well done. And the design is beautiful, too-- take a look at the gold cover and cloth binding.

Lastly, and a little change of pace: Nobuaki Tadano's 7 Billion Needles. Published by the wonderful people at Vertical, 7 Billion Needles follows high school loner Hikaru who hears voices in her headphones after a meteor crash. It's really well-written Japanese sci-fi, and I'm very much looking forward to the subsequent three volumes. Love the retro artwork too--Vertical's Peter Mendelsund is one of the best designers I've found.

All these should be available at your local bookstore if you're looking for some comics to pick up.

For Fans of Charles Burns: I recently attended a presentation of X'ed Out at The Strand, and heard that Burns is currently working on a portfolio of prints with Galerie Martel in France. It's going to be a set of four prints, all of strange knock-off "translations" of his fictional Tintin book covers. I've seen the pictures and they look fantastic--stay tuned for more scoop.

Currently reading:
The Insufferable Gaucho by Roberto Bolano

Currently listening to:
Admiral Fell Promises by Sun Kil Moon
"Not in Love" by Crystal Castles, featuring Robert Smith

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Howard Jacobson wins the 2010 Man Booker Prize

Congratulations to Howard Jacobson for winning the 2010 Man Booker Prize for his novel The Finkler Question! I haven't read it yet, but I'm very much looking forward to it--I really enjoyed Jacobson's The Act of Love from a few years back.

This copy of The Finkler Question is a signed UK first in new, unread condition, and just might find its way on eBay soon. I've got my eye on a 1st edition of The Crying of Lot 49 and might try "trade" the two...

UPDATE: Looks like it sold!

Currently reading:
The Instructions by Adam Levin

Currently listening to:
"King Night" by Salem

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Puffin Designer Classics: THE SECRET GARDEN

I'm very excited to share this one with you: to celebrate Puffin's 70th anniversary, six designers were asked to re-imagine a Puffin Classic and design a limited edition book for their title. Just like Penguin's Designer Classics from 5 years ago, these are limited to only 1000 copies worldwide and each are housed in a plexi slipcase.

Those of you who followed the Penguin Designer Classics when they were on the market know how fast they sold out and how much their value has increased. Paul Smith's Lady Chatterly's Lover was the most popular, with copies now listing at around $1000.00. Fortunately, the Puffin line was announced far enough in advance for collectors to jump on the opportunity to put orders in early. Amazon had a bunch at one point, and I was able to grab a few.

What's interesting about this series is how modest most of the designs are. In my opinion there's only one standout/must-have for collectors, and the rest are really more for fans of the artist or the story. That one standout, however, is astonishing:
Francis Hodgeson Burnett's The Secret Garden was designed by children's book author and illustrator Lauren Child of "Clarice Bean" fame. The book is printed in blank ink on green paper, and is bound in an incredible layered cut-out cardstock. The front cover of the book has three different illustrated layers, which can fan open and create a wonderful effect:

Instead of writing the book's title on the spine, the information is written on a yellow ribbon with a small key tied to the end. The key and ribbon are held lightly in place by a small (and hardly noticeable) dab of adhesive that is stuck to the base of the book and a tree-less portion of the front cover.

Lauren Child's edition of The Secret Garden is limited to 1000 numbered copies; this is #724. Unfortunately the book is officially sold out, but you might be able to track a few leftovers down on online vendors.
Currently reading:
The Instructions, Adam Levin

Currently listening to:
Dreamend, "Maybe We Are Making God Sad & Lonely (side B)"

REVIEW: Michael Cunningham, By Nightfall

Just a quick post to say that my review of Michael Cunningham's new novel By Nightfall can be seen here. Hope you enjoy.

Currently Reading:
The Instructions by Adam Levin

Currently listening to:
Dreamend, "Maybe We're Making God Sad & Lonely (Side A)"