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Nexus Graphica
by Rick Klaw

Other Nexus Graphica Columns
For more information, you can try the following:
Cartoon Art Museum of San Francisco
From Bloom County To Mars: The Imagination Of Berkeley Breathed
Overture: Looney Tunes Behind The Scenes
Dog Eared
Modern Times
Shakespeare & Co.
City Lights
Ted Naifeh
Jab #3
Lan Pitts
George Marston
21: The Story of Roberto Clemente
Yesterday's Tomorrows
Mister Wonderful
Recent Books of Interest
21: The Story of Roberto Clemente by Wilfred Santiago (Fantagraphics)
21: The Story of Roberto Clemente Roberto Clemente's name adorns the annual Major League Baseball award for the sport's most humanitarian athletes. Not just the first great Puerto Rican baseballer (and some would argue still the greatest) to play in the United States, Clemente famously and often quietly displayed the best of humanity. In this emotionally moving biography, the Puerto Rican Wilfred Santiago magnificently chronicles the often tragic life of this icon. Beginning with Clemente's final game, where he collected his 3,000th hit, Santiago quickly hearkens back to Clemente's poverty stricken childhood of homemade bats and practice with soda caps through his disturbing journey into the minor leagues of the Jim Crow era of institutionalized racism and onto his life as a star outfielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Santiago expertly traverses Clemente's tribulations, losses, and success with ease and skill. His portrayal of the baseball games rank among the finest ever attempted in this medium. Under the masterful hands of Santiago, 21 evolves into far more than just a biography of a sports figure. It showcases a life worth emulating.

Yesterday's Tomorrows by Rian Hughes with Grant Morrison, Raymond Chandler, Tom DeHaven, John Freeman and Chris Reynolds Introduction by Paul Gravett (Image)
Yesterday's Tomorrows Originally published as a limited edition hardcover, the beautiful Yesterday's Tomorrows features the clean stylings of acclaimed graphic illustrator Rian Hughes. With five comic book stories -- two by Grant Morrison including the controversial post-modern interruption of the iconic Dan Dare, an adaptation of Raymond Chandler's "Goldfish," and two over-the-top 50s-infused science fiction stories -- and a sketchbook of designs, trading cards, covers, and pin ups, Hughes demonstrates his mastery over different genres and techniques. While the writing quality of the various tales wavers, the uniqueness of Hughes' gorgeous vision remains impressive. At the affordable price for 264 full color pages, Yesterday's Tomorrows is a welcome addition to any graphic novel or science fiction collection.

Mister Wonderful by Daniel Clowes (Pantheon)
Mister Wonderful The Oscar-nominated Daniel Clowes, creator of Ghostworld, Wilson, and Eightball, crafts a bittersweet tale of a middle-aged man's search for companionship. Originally serialized in The New York Times Magazine , Mister Wonderful follows the neurotic, divorced Marshall on his first date in six years. In his typical fashion, Clowes relies on caricature as he expertly reveals complex emotional layers mixed within a heady collection of humorous and poignant scenes. This all-to-real vision incorporates many of our own fears, inadequacies, and hopes. Simultaneously simple/complex, beautiful/ugly, and romantic/cynical, the thin (77 pages) volume engages the reader, successfully lingering long after the last page.

San Francisco: A Collection of Comic Book Experiences

From Bloom County To Mars: The Imagination Of Berkeley Breathed
Overture: Looney Tunes Behind The Scenes
As mentioned by Mr. Williams in the last Nexus Graphica installment, I spent five days earlier this month in San Francisco along with my better half as a celebration of our tenth wedding anniversary. Though unlike Mark alluded, I didn't attend WonderCon, but I still managed several comic book experiences.

The Cartoon Art Museum revealed many delights, chief among them exhibits featuring the works of Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Berkley Breathed and a behind-the-scenes peek at the making of the legendary Looney Tunes. From Bloom County To Mars: The Imagination Of Berkeley Breathed delighted the senses with the original full color paintings from many of his picture books plus an impressive sampling of his early career University of Texas newspaper endeavor Academia Waltz, the now-iconic Bloom County, and the Sunday-only Outland strips. Comprised primarily of character designs, model sheets, advertising artwork, animation pencil samples, and Looney Tunes comic book art, Overture: Looney Tunes Behind The Scenes provided a fascinating and thrilling glimpse of the beloved works. Both exhibits of the cherished creations tweaked the profound emotional chords of childhood and early adulthood. Sadly, the rest of the museum lacked any sort of resonance. The permanent displays contained only few items of note and after the fervor spawned by the penguin and the rabbit, fell flat.

Since Brandy and I first met and fell in love while working in a bookstore, this trip, as they all do, needed to include several bookstore visits. Thankfully, San Francisco (and Berkley which we visited for a day) proved more than up to the task. In the span of three days, we visited Fields, Dog Eared, Modern Times, Borderlands, Moe's Books, Shakespeare & Co., Browser, Kinokuniya, and City Lights. Not only were they among some of the finest book shops I've ever seen but amazingly all of them featured a significant amount of graphic novels. With nary a super hero title, City Lights, the seminal Beats bookstore, combines their large graphic novel selection within the general art section. Moe's maintains an extensive used and new collection of various subjects and
Grease Trap

Words by Joe R. Lansdale
Art by Ted Naifeh
Courtney Crumrin
titles. Not only did Borderlands offer graphic novels, but they positioned them in the prime real estate near the front door. Even the specialized, non-genre stores such as the metaphysical Fields and political Modern Times stocked graphic novels. But Kinokuniya in Japantown beats them all. An international chain, the two floor store sells books in both Japanese and English (roughly a 70/30 split). The first floor contains traditional types of books of all genres and subjects but the second includes an impressive array of nothing but manga and graphic novels from Japanese and American publishers.

Brandy and I ate lunch with artist Ted Naifeh in Japantown. I met Ted shortly after he lost the 1991 Russ Manning Most Promising Newcomer Award to Daerick Gross of Vampire Lestat fame. Ted received the nomination primarily for his art on issues of the never-completed Gene Wolfe's The Shadow Of The Torturer. Throughout the 90s, Ted and I worked on several projects together. He illustrated my story in the now-legendary bullet-holed Jab #3 and the Joe R. Lansdale-scripted "Grease Trap" for my anthology Creature Features as well as three stories in Weird Business and the back cover of The Big Bigfoot Book. Not to mention our numerous series proposal that went nowhere. In 1998, Ted co-created Gloomcookie with writer Serena Valentino. Satirizing contemporary Gothic subculture, the supernatural fantasy propelled him to stardom. Since then he's worked on several other successful titles including books with noted authors Holly Black and Caitlín R. Kiernan. Naifeh currently draws and writes the Eisner-nominated Courtney Crumrin.

Since we met on the Monday after WonderCon, Newsarama bloggers Lan Pitts and George Marston joined us. After Ted and I caught up, the conversation ranged from the current struggles of the comic industry especially the seemingly inevitable demise of the individual stapled (floppy) comic book issues to the disastrous Zach Snyder Sucker Punch to what makes/typifies good Japanese food (something about the quality of the noodles). Good food, a pleasant atmosphere and intelligent pop culture discussions all combined to create an extremely pleasant outing.

After five days and weighted down with books, we returned home, weary and happy. Not seeing everything we wanted, Brandy and I have vowed to return to San Francisco for a new passel of memories. And books.

Copyright © 2011 Rick Klaw

Professional reviewer, geek maven, and optimistic curmudgeon, Rick Klaw has supplied countless reviews, essays, and fiction for a variety of publications including The Austin Chronicle, The San Antonio Current, The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy, Moving Pictures RevolutionSF, King Kong Is Back!, Conversations With Texas Writers, Farscape Forever, Electric Velocipede, Cross Plains Universe, and Steampunk. MonkeyBrain Books published the collection of his essays, reviews, and other things Klaw, Geek Confidential: Echoes From the 21st Century. He can often be found pontificating on Twitter and over at The Geek Curmudgeon.

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