13 February 2010

Exploring The Alternative: Fantagraphics' BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA

Fantagraphics Books isn't a household name like Marvel or DC,  but the Seattle company's earned its well-deserved reputation as the industry's cutting edge comics publisher. Since they first began publishing the critical trade magazine The Comics Journal in 1976, Fantagraphics has specialized in seeking out and publishing the kind of innovative work that existed beyond the parameters of the superhero and fantasy comics corporations.  

From an abbracadabbling point of view, Fantagraphics Books -- and that they say 'Books' rather than 'Comics' is rather apt-- is the home of comics literature.  Their vast array of titles cover subjects from the serious and dramatic to the historical, political, and satirical. Comics journalism - notably, through Palestine and the other works of Joe Sacco - has differentiated itself from its misunderstood association of political cartooning and become a viable medium of first-person reporting thanks to Fantagraphics, and Chris Ware's amazing comics style - as evidenced by his Acme Novelty Library series as well as his graphic novel, Jimmy Corrigan, The Smartest Boy on Earth --  is available to more than readers of The New Yorker.  Because of Fantagraphics, Dan Clowes' Ghost World  and Art School Confidential both found their way into the box office, and R. Crumb and the whole of the 1960 and 1970's experimental and underground comix scene lives a four-colored life once more. 
Of course, there's a whole lot more we could say about Fantagraphics, too, but if we haven't given you enough reason to check out their homepage and blog HERE, then maybe comic strip creator Steven Weissman will. Weissman, a San Franciscan just like your pal The Dabbler, won the Harvey Award for 'Best New Talent' in 1998, and is best known  for the offbeat and bizarre explorations of childhood friendships often depicted in his alternative comics works.  Now, Weissman's created a weekly online comics strip that chronicles the adventures of the young Barack Hussein Obama - available to read online or for PDF download at Fantagraphics.  They're humorous, insightful, and just a touch political -- which makes them perfect examples of the Fantagraphics we love.  And unlike the Bobblehead that bears his likeness, your American President isn't a superhero -- at least, not yet. 
You can find a new strip every Friday on the publisher's page HERE -- or on Weissman's own blog, Chewing Gum in Church, HERE. We hope you enjoy 'The Alternative'. 

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