Preorder The Hereville Graphic Novel!

On August 4, 2010 · 14 Comments

144 pages (with 139 pages of comics).

The Hereville graphic novel is now available! I have copies on hand, and are generally shipping them out within a week of receiving orders (but it can take longer if you want a drawing). The book is also in stock at many bookstores (both real-world and online).

You can find an independent bookstore that carries Hereville by checking Indie Bound. Or you can preorder Hereville from online booksellers like Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Due to the discount those folks provide, this is definitely the most affordable way to buy Hereville, and I don’t mind a bit if you’d prefer to order through them.

That said, I am selling signed copies myself. This is the way to go if you’d prefer an autographed copy, a copy inscribed as a gift for someone, or a copy with a drawing in it.

If you order a book from me, I’ll assume you want it inscribed “To [name of person who placed the order]” But if you’d like me to write something else (or to not write anything at all) please let me know exactly what you want me to write, either by emailing me, or by using the “instructions to merchant” option in Paypal’s order form.

Books cost $15.95, plus shipping. Shipping is $4 in the USA, more for folks outside the US.

You can also order an original drawing with your book, which costs either $10 extra (for a quick sketch) or $40 extra (for a more labor-intensive sketch). If you’re interested, you can read more about that here.

I can’t even describe how excited I am to finally be selling copies of the Hereville graphic novel!

Under store

“Little Orphan Annie” Comic Strip Ends After 86 Years

On June 13, 2010 · 2 Comments

After 86 years of amazing adventure and right-wing preaching, the comic strip “Annie” (originally called “Little Orphan Annie”) ends today. Surprisingly, it’s not ending happily:

“Annie got kidnapped more than any child on the planet,” Maeder says.

And that, dear readers, is her predicament now.

She’s been spirited away to Guatemala by her war-criminal captor. Warbucks is huddling with the FBI and Interpol but there aren’t many clues.

Annie’s captor says they’re stuck with each other. Welcome to your new life, he says.

And there it ends.

You can read the final strip here.

At first, I felt irritated that Tribune Media (the owners of Annie) didn’t continue Annie long enough to let it end happily. But on rethinking, I kind of like it. We can take it on faith that Daddy Warbucks will eventually shake off his funk and rescue Annie, and that Annie and Warbucks together will defeat the kidnapper and go home for a while until the next dictator or mobster or union boss kidnaps Annie. It’s appropriate that the comic strip doesn’t really have an ending, because Annie’s adventures seemed endless.

Of course, I would have preferred that the comic strip end back in 1968, when creator Harold Gray died. Although Gray’s successors on the strip include some excellent cartoonists (Leonard Starr, for goodness sake!), none of them were able to bring Gray’s slightly frightening intensity and vitality to the strip.

(Click on the panel to read the entire strip.)

I like Gray’s artwork a lot. The tiny heads and enormous hands feel expressionistic. And I love how Gray’s artwork almost always seems claustrophobic; ceilings feel uncomfortably close to characters’ heads, even when Gray draws outdoor scenes. Gray’s drawing tells a story very efficiently, but where it really shines is in getting across Gray’s fictional world, a world which despite Annie’s relentless optimism, was frightening and difficult, and in which the new death threat or kidnapping was always just around the corner.

Gray’s claustrophobic artwork was also a good match for his political views, which were spectacularly narrow. Gray’s reaction to the great depression was to preach that anyone could make it if only they embraced hard work and optimism (and socked out the occasional thug); anyone talking about larger economic issues behind structural unemployment would have been dismissed by Gray as a whiner. (I really regret that Gray never showed Daddy Warbucks punching out Keynes.) Gray had an awesome ability to deny reality; but even though a world in which anyone can make it with a little pluck and some help from a redheaded orphan isn’t realistic, it is a fun fantasy to read in a comic strip.

I haven’t yet seen much blogging about the end of Annie (except for this post on Comicscomics). But here’s some interesting past blogging about Little Orphan Annie: Illustration Art has “Harold Gray: An Appreciation,” featuring several very large (if you click on them) reproductions of Gray’s artwork and the blog’s patented “you kids get off my lawn” attitude towards modern comics. Jeet Heer quotes some Art Spiegelman comments about Gray’s work, plus in the comments a reader is quite funny on the subject of what a lousy parent Daddy Warbucks was. And Madinkbeard, reviewing an old reprint collection, makes a number of very interesting comments about Little Orphan Annie.

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