Tag Archives: kim thompson

Review: Billie Holiday OGN

The first time I ever heard of Billie Holiday was a record my grandad had, he used to talk about he heard her sing live so many years ago. I was seven years old, the first time, as he used to put on his vinyl records on all the time, which he kept in immaculate condition. I wish I knew where those records are now, as the quality of those recordings, he crisp snap of vinyl and the way music was made, was true alchemy. Although he had many records by many different artists, not too many trances like Ms. Holiday, especially on songs like Body and Soul.

Her voice, told of so much truth, heartbreak, love, hope, despair, weariness, struggle, and the eternal cycle of the beautiful struggle. Her record is my connection to him but to also to my childhood, something that I find myself constantly reaching back to. It was not until I read her book (Lady Sings the Blues) and saw the movie based on her life starring Diana Ross, did I understand where all those emotions came from and how resilient she was despite life’s many obstacles. So, when I heard that there was a graphic biography based on her life, I instantly was drawn to this book.

In this book, the reader is first introduced to her through her music, which is her legacy but soon fast forwards to a reporter doing a story on her thirty years after her death. The reader gets into the tragic aspects of her life, her being a child prostitute, her multiple addictions, and her bad luck with men. The book gets into her many relationships and her many run-ins with the law, as her life ended with her in a hospital handcuffed to the bed as she was under arrest. The book ends, with her legacy in full retrospect, as the two men in her life left living pay their respects.

Overall, a heart wrenching glimpse into an iconic and somewhat mythical figure, whose likeness and music. The story by Muñoz is heartbreaking and gives her the respect that is long been overdue. The art by Sampayo is prominent, and uses the color of black like no artist I have seen before. Altogether, an excellent graphic memoir, that pulls no punches and will leave the reader breathless.

Story: Jose Muñoz Art: Carlos Sampayo
Translation: Katy MacRae, Robert Boyd, and Kim Thompson

Fantagraphics Co-Publisher Kim Thompson, RIP

We received the following from Fantagraphics on the passing of co-publisher Kim Thompson. Posted without edits.

Fantagraphics co-publisher Kim Thompson died at 6:30 this morning, June 19. “He was my partner and close friend for 36 years,” said Gary Groth.

Thompson was born in Denmark in 1956. He grew up in Europe, a lifelong comics fan, reading both European and American comics in Denmark, France, and Germany. He was an active fan in his teen years, writing to comics — his letters appeared in Marvel’s letter columns circa early 1970s — and contributing to fanzines from his various European perches. At the age of 21, he set foot, for the first time, on American soil, in late 1977. One “fanzine” he had not contributed to was The Comics Journal, which Groth and Michael Catron began publishing in July of 1976. That was soon to change.

“Within a few weeks of his arrival,” said Groth, “he came over to our ‘office,’ which was the spare bedroom of my apartment, and was introduced by a mutual friend — it was a fan visit. We were operating out of College Park, Maryland and Kim’s parents had moved to Fairfax, Virginia, both Washington DC suburbs. Kim loved the energy around the Journal and the whole idea of a magazine devoted to writing about comics, and asked if he could help. We needed all the help we could get, of course, so we gladly accepted his offer. He started to come over every day and was soon camping out on the floor. The three of us were living and breathing The Comics Journal 24 hours a day.”

Thompson became an owner when Catron took a job at DC Comics in 1978. As he became more familiar with the editorial process, Thompson became more and more integral to the magazine, assembling and writing news and conducting interviews with professionals. Thompson’s career in comics began here.

In 1981, Fantagraphics began publishing comics (such as Jack Jackson’s Los Tejanos, Don Rosa’s Comics and Stories, and, in 1982, Love and Rockets). Thompson was always evangelical about bandes dessinées and wanted to bring the best of European comics to America; in 1981, Thompson selected and translated the first of many European graphic novels for American publication — Herman Huppen’s The Survivors: Talons of Blood (followed by a 2nd volume in 1983). Thompson’s involvement in The Comics Journal diminished in 1982 when he took over the editorship of Amazing Heroes, a bi-weekly magazine devoted to more mainstream comics (with occasional forays into alternative and even foreign comics). Thompson helmed Amazing Heroes through 204 issues until 1992.

Among Thompson’s signature achievements in comics were Critters, a funny-animal anthology that ran from 50 issues between 1985 to 1990 and is perhaps best known for introducing the world to Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo; and Zero Zero, an alternative comics anthology that also ran for 50 issues over five years — between 1995 and 2000 — and featured work by, among others, Kim Deitch, Dave Cooper, Al Columbia, Spain Rodriguez, Joe Sacco, David Mazzuchelli, and Joyce Farmer. His most recent enthusiasm was spearheading a line of European graphic novel translations, including two major series of volumes by two of the most significant living European artists — Jacques Tardi (It Was the War of the Trenches, Like a Sniper Lining up His Shot, The Astonishing Exploits of Lucien Brindavoine) and Jason (Hey, Wait…, I Killed Adolf Hitler, Low Moon, The Left Bank Gang) — and such respected work as Ulli Lust’s Today Is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life, Lorenzo Mattotti’s The Crackle of the Frost, Gabriella Giandelli’s Interiorae, and what may be his crowning achievement as an editor/translator, Guy Peelaert’s The Adventures of Jodelle.

Throughout his career at Fantagraphics, Thompson was active in every aspect of the company, selecting books, working closely with authors, guiding books through the editorial and production process. “Kim leaves an enormous legacy behind him,” said Groth, “not just all the European graphic novels that would never have been published here if not or his devotion, knowledge, and skills, but for all the American cartoonists he edited, ranging from Stan Sakai to Joe Sacco to Chris Ware, and his too infrequent critical writing about the medium. His love and devotion to comics was unmatched. I can’t truly convey how crushing this is for all of us who’ve known and loved and worked with him over he years.”

Thompson was diagnosed with lung cancer in late February. He is survived by his wife, Lynn Emmert, his mother and father, Aase and John, and his brother Mark.

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