Alternative/independent comics thread

Health insurance rip off lying FDA big bankers buying
Fake computer crashes dining
Cloning while they're multiplying
Fashion shoots with Beck and Hanson
Courtney Love, and Marilyn Manson
You're all fakes
Run to your mansions
Come around
We'll kick your ass in

Postby HotFingersClub » Thu Mar 22, 2018 7:55 am

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John Hankiewicz - Education
Think I'm probably a little slow for this. Some of the formalist elements reminded me of the Samplerman mini from last year that I loved (like above, the train headlight becoming the dog's head in the next panel), but that had an explosive sense of fun, whereas this is very dry, formal in tone as well as style. Some of the images were incredibly striking, like the sycamore seed imposed over empty rooms, but as a whole it wasn't really clicking for me.

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Miss Lasko-Gross - Escape from "Special"
Autobiographical vignettes from the childhood of an unconventional girl as she grows up. The dark, splodgy artwork and subject matter are v similar to Phoebe Gloeckner's stuff, particularly A Child's Life, to the extent that it can sometimes seem like a cover version. It's not bad though. A lot less harrowing and maybe with a little more self-mythologising, but possibly a more relatable experience for those reasons.

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Gabrielle Bell - Everything is Flammable
I read this straight after the Lasko-Gross, which was a weird shift. In one sense, it could almost be a sequel, in that it's very similar material with a similar character, but taken from later in life. Stylistically, it's much more condensed and packed with detail. I ended up liking this better. After struggling through the first few stories, I found my groove, and began to really appreciate the honesty and humanity of Bell's work. It all kicks into gear during the story where she details the deaths of all her cats. From that point on, I was pretty much hooked. Loved all the scenes of her out in the woods with her mum, and how the scenes with Gus gradually reveal more about him in a totally organic way.
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Postby sevenarts » Fri Mar 23, 2018 7:37 am

HotFingersClub wrote:John Hankiewicz - Education
Think I'm probably a little slow for this. Some of the formalist elements reminded me of the Samplerman mini from last year that I loved (like above, the train headlight becoming the dog's head in the next panel), but that had an explosive sense of fun, whereas this is very dry, formal in tone as well as style.


I love this book but can't even disagree - I just really love dry, formalist works a lot of the time. It has a subtle sense of humor to it too, but its main appeal to me is the way it plays with form to abstract the story, and introduces all this uncertainty about what's even happening - it's like Resnais/Robbe-Grillet in comics form.

I like that Bell book a lot too. I used to not really connect with her deadpan autobio style but more and more I've come to appreciate what she does, I read a bunch of her books last year and there's something really appealing about the straightforward diaristic sensibility and the lack of ornamentation or artifice.


Also here's a book I'm really really excited for, just preordered:

http://www.breakdownpress.com/store/generous-bosom-3

A bit pricey but this series, Conor Stechschulte's Generous Bosom, has been really fantastic so far. Probably a bit on the dry, formalist side again I guess but it's just gorgeous and does some really mind-blowing, subtle things with perspective, unreliable narrators, and storytelling, plus it hangs all its formalist experiments on the framework of an erotic thriller so there's a genre hook to make some of its more heady moments hang together. Breakdown Press put the first 2 installments back in print as well.

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Postby Mandingo » Sun Mar 25, 2018 10:58 am

never made a list but education was tied with mister miracle as my favorite comic of 2018
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Postby sevenarts » Sun Apr 08, 2018 5:29 pm

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Generous Bosom #3 by Conor Stechschulte
I've raved about the first 2 installments of this before, and the new one is a great continuation. Pulpy, confounding, twisty, and yet also really grounded in emotional reality. This newest volume delves even further in psychological mind-bender territory, dealing with hypnosis and multilayered mind games where what's real and what's a fictional script isn't always clear. Stechschulte keeps inserting new layers of artifice and contradiction, and the ways in which he visualizes the multiple levels of reality - with speech balloons being partially erased and overlaid, or imagined sequences progressing in tight grids over larger images - are continually inventive. The book is gorgeous too, his drawings have an excellent grasp of body language and gesture that makes all his conversations read very realistically, which makes it all the more dazzling when he pulls the rug out and reveals the lies and machinations underneath. And the riso printing, with color-coded sequences for different locations and/or realities, adds to the book's impact as well. Great stuff, I can't wait to reread these 3 volumes all in one go now and follow the labyrinthine plot a little more.

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Frontier #15 by Tatsuro Kiuchi
Newest issue of Youth In Decline's great anthology series, returning from a hiatus with 4 issues this year. This one focuses on illustrator Tatsuro Kiuchi and juxtaposes a series of black and white landscape drawings with some gorgeous, brightly colored paintings. Not comics at all, but some really nice imagery. Kiuchi's paintings are striking and very pretty, with such a brilliant color sensibility. And his b&w street scenes have this stark, blown-out quality, making excellent use of areas of bright light and densely cross-hatched shadow. Very very pleasant to leaf through. I generally prefer the issues of this where they get an artist to do a short comic but this is a nice portfolio anyway.

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Little Angels by Aidan Koch
Cool, short comic from one of my favorite practitioners of comics as poetry. Koch's work appeals to me because it's often *almost* abstract but doesn't quite go all the way there - even in her most abstract moments there are hints of connections to form and narrative, these tantalizing fragments that form a skeletal emotional throughline at the center of her minimalist work. This one is split in two. The first part is a few pages of 6-panel grids, with many completely empty panels and others being hazy watercolors. This is a perfect example of her most abstract work, with just hints of what might be happening: some shadowy figures, a landscape, blurry, runny images that might be dark rooms or hallways. The second half is a fragmented conversation between roommates, elliptically referring to events the night before, with Koch's typical restraint in drawing the friends, leaving out parts of their forms and bodies and either completely abstracting the backgrounds or replacing the room they're in with marginal doodles and notes the women are writing as they talk.

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The Weird World of Lagoola Gardner #1 by Zach Worton
Goofy, trippy, wacky-as-hell new series from the artist who did the sadly aborted Blood Visions series for Oily a few years back. Aliens, private eyes, vampires, and a satanic cult hiding in the sewers. Really steeped in trashy Z-grade horror movies and kitsch, it's over-the-top and has a really winking, knowing quality to a lot of the writing. It gets a bit too much at times, to be honest - it's not nearly as finely calibrated in tone as Blood Visions was - but it's still pretty fun and I admire both Worton's really wild cartooning chops and his ability to turn on a dime from the wackiest shit to just jaw-droppingly grotesque horror sequences. Pretty interesting even if I don't love it as much as I was hoping based on what I'd seen of his work before.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Mon Apr 09, 2018 6:11 am

Really looking forward to that issue of Frontier, the .cbr of which is currently waiting in my comics folder. At first glance, the composition and colour work looks similar to Ikegami Yoriyuki, who I think I might have discovered through this board? And who slays
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Postby HotFingersClub » Mon Apr 09, 2018 6:12 am

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Fabien Grolleau & Jeremie Royer – Audubon, on the Wings of the World
My GIS for this book just led me back to Hipinion, where I discovered it was Creationist’s 10th best for 2016. I found a hardback version in an Oxfam this weekend and, like all Nobrow books, it’s a beautiful thing to hold it and turn the pages. Fantastic paper stock and beautiful colours. Royer’s art is really good. It sometimes looks a little meagre compared to Audubon’s own drawings reproduced at the end of the book, but he does a great job of selling the open vistas of the American wilderness and the huge flocks of birds. Grolleau lets the side down a bit: whenever he embellishes Audubon’s story, he falls back on biopic cliché which really damage credibility. We have great examples here of the last-minute barge rescue by an old friend, plus several real-world figures being “composited” into a mystical and taciturn Native American guide who feels like a relic from an earlier age of storytelling. There’s even a pitch-perfect rendition of the old “and that man was… Charles Darwin” trope, in a meeting invented by Grolleau. Audubon’s family are also treated terribly in this, but I think that at least is probably realistic.
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Postby Percy Dovetonsils » Mon Apr 09, 2018 8:04 am

HotFingersClub wrote:Really looking forward to that issue of Frontier, the .cbr of which is currently waiting in my comics folder.


woah woah hold on a minute, these are being scanned???
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Postby sevenarts » Mon Apr 09, 2018 8:36 am

Pretty surprised by that as well, actually.

Though if you see a scan of Frontier #1 (the Uno Moralez issue) I'd love to get ahold of that - that's the only one I missed out on and have never been able to find a physical copy of.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Mon Apr 09, 2018 8:59 am

I bought the digital subscription from Youth in Decline at the beginning of the year. Had completely forgotten about it until they sent me a PDF of #15 last week, which I then converted into .cbr

Apparently they did it last year too, but I haven't seen any copies in the usual places. The page where I bought it (http://www.youthindecline.com/product/frontier-2018-subscription) says that it's sold out. Don't know why they're limiting the print run for digital, but they're a small publisher, and if you wanted to get on the digital subscription it might be worth emailing them
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Postby Wombatz » Tue Apr 10, 2018 8:05 am

among other things, i read

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Flesh and Bone by Julia Gfrörer. it's from 2010 but somehow i did not have this yet. what can i say, it's of course excellent ... (the only solo book of her's i don't at all like is black is the color, which i thought was kind of kitschy and cost me a year of gfrörer appreciation before i tried another) ... she builds such strange little worlds so easily, strange but still possibly closer to the inner worlds of the times she evokes (here ridden by early modern superstitions) than more ponderous efforts.

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Poly Chronos 1 by Ralph Niese. Ralph is another of the very few best german comics artists, and is from the city where i live. his aesthetic background is probably not unfamiliar these days, trashy and weened on 90s superhero comics ... a bit more unusually, his version of that is not at all hard-boiled or over the top genre emulation, but on the tender side, both in the love of detail and in that no feelings will have been hurt in the making of this exploitation story. the new series begins like our protagonist will have to learn some tantrism before he can graduate from the school of gifted youngsters as a proper superhero ...

also, while in prague over the easter holidays, i found this hanging on a museum wall:

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from 64, but it looked incredibly fresh, with a touch of 80s underground maybe ... it's by Kaja Saudek, the most famous czech comic artist, it seems. there's no translations of his work, maybe for the best, as i have since heard that the words have aged much more badly than the drawings. this here is very enjoyable (link to the whole thing after the image) and i wish i'd seen it in time to buy a copy of the book.

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http://antikvariat-artbook.blogspot.de/2000/01/kaja-saudek-muriel-andele-1969.html
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Postby HotFingersClub » Wed Apr 11, 2018 11:17 am

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Brendan McCarthy – Dream Gang
I like Brendan McCarthy, even when he’s not working with a writer the calibre of Milligan or Ewing, although is he leaning more on the cheap digital effects in his old age? A lot of these pages look like The Dark Knight Strikes Again. It suits McCarthy better than it would most artists, but he has less texture than I remember. The story is sort of his version of The Sandman (and even seems to have a few explicit references) and is also basically a retread of The Zaucer of Zilk. Must admit it suffers in comparison.

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Gerald Jablonski – Farmer Ned’s Comics Barn
I love that quote from Jim Woodring about Jablonski’s work possessing “that alarming glass-hard veneer of isolated intellect that distinguishes the product of a bona fide lunatic.” This is the longest collection of Jablonski’s I’ve seen, and I think it reprints some of the stuff from Empty Skull although honestly who the fuck knows. The bits I’ve read (probably not wise to read it all, and definitely not in one sitting), I enjoyed more than previous Jablonski, I think because I like the farmyard stuff better than the Howdy and Dee Dee material, and there’s more of a balance in this collection. A lot of it I even found genuinely funny: that horse in the comic above, owning up to all his mistakes; the fact that “a friend of Howdy’s nephew” appears in every single panel of those stories without ever contributing to the story in any way. Funny stuff! Also love how earnestly unhelpful he is in the interview at the back (“I like many of the same things that everybody else in the world does.”)

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Tatsuro Kiuchi – Frontier 15
Delightful, especially the colour illustrations. I could just live in those scenes, they give me such a sense of peace.

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Paolo Bacilieri – Fun / More Fun
Hmm well it’s certainly very accomplished… This seems like exactly my shit in a way. A huge formalist tome connecting multiple interlocking stories with the history of the crossword, incredibly detailed art, metafictional touches etc. The crossword thing really gets into your brain – I think he must have designed the whole book under some sort of hidden system: reading it feels like looking at crosswords within crosswords, both on each page and in how the incidental tales connect with one another. Also though, it’s just a little dry. Difficult to connect with. I do hesitantly recommend it though – seems like there’s a lot to unpack.

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Leah Hayes – Funeral of the Heart
In Hayes’ debut from 2008, she tells surrealist fairytales that fall roughly under a kind of “dark twee” banner and are, to be honest, not that great. Also quite hard to read. It’s not really a comic – full pages of handwritten text are interspersed with occasional pages of illustration, and everything is done on scratchboard, so the text is jagged white italics on a black background. Pretty high contrast. The illustrations are more like photo negatives of Eleanor Davis, and are often quite beautiful.
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Postby sevenarts » Tue Apr 17, 2018 10:46 pm

Time for a big catch-up post.

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Drawn & Quarterly v1-v2 by various
D&Q's flagship anthology in the 90s, and it encapsulates why to me, though they've often published good stuff, they've perennially been a distant second to Fantagraphics in this sphere. This is all just so forgettable and slight, which is admittedly a problem with anthologies in general but it's rare to find one that's so stacked with seemingly interesting artists but so light on anything genuinely memorable. Lots of Eurocomics folks alongside some of the staples of the 90s indie scene. There's some good stuff here to be sure: Julie Doucet's funny, dreamlike shorts are always a delight, Carol Swain turns in a few typically elliptical, haunting vignettes, David Mazzuchelli has a couple of his all-too-rare short stories that are excellent, and there are some really great slices of Eurocomics reprints that wind up teasing at longer works (Dupuy & Berberian's Monsieur Jean, Jacques Tardi's harrowing WWI comics, Baru's dynamically drawn tale about a French-Algerian boxer). Debbie Dreschler, Mary Fleener, Joe Sacco, Carel Moiseiwitsch (more on her below) and Dennis Eichhorn also make brief but worthy appearances. So much of the rest barely makes an impression for the time it takes to read it. And long stretches of the first volume, especially, are dedicated to Joe Matt's whiny, wordy diary comics that seem even longer than they are due to the tiny panels. Did people only think this guy was any good because he hung out with Seth and Chester Brown? It's so unbearable.

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Blue Is the Warmest Color by Julie Maroh
Haven't seen the movie but I'm familiar with the reputation, of course. This is the source material, and it's mostly pretty good, though more than a little maudlin and sentimental, and certainly it's easy enough to see why it found its way into movie houses. The book is at its best in the first half, when it's documenting the teen protagonist's gradual coming-to-terms with her own gay desires, and her love affair with the blue-haired older girl who first awakened these feelings in her. This stuff is poignant, capturing the clumsiness, conflicting emotions, and prejudices churning inside of this girl as she struggles to understand why she's feeling things she's not "supposed to" feel. Maroh's straightforward style - very stereotypically "Euro" with a mild anime influence - stays out of the way and lets the characters dominate. The second half kind of loses its momentum though, jumping forward in time and skipping over so much that the characters lose focus - Maroh had done such a good job getting into their heads in the early parts and then suddenly it's years later and their motivations are being spelled out in plain text instead of allowed to come out naturally from the story. It feels rushed, which is an odd thing to find in a non-serialized graphic novel. Ultimately disappointing even though there are plenty of good parts too.

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Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
Really charming webcomic (collected in a GN) about a young shape-changing girl who apprentices herself to a super-villain. It's consistently funny and witty, and yet it also gradually unfurls some darker undercurrents that lead to a pretty intense dramatic climax. Stevenson's art is simple and cartoony but she has a great grasp of body language and gesture and facial expressions, so the minimalism totally works and the characters are always really well defined. She keeps it to a small cast and some very archetypal relationships and just plays with the form for a few hundred pages. A good quick read.

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Flash Marks by Carel Moiseiwitsch
A mostly forgotten artist whose whole legacy, more or less, was collected in this 32-page Fantagraphics comic. She seems to have come from more of a fine arts background, did a few stories for D&Q's anthology and lots of 80s anthologies, and then vanished from the scene. Dark, edgy, scratchy, deliberately ugly stuff that's perfectly suited to her generally harrowing portraits of military horrors and political manipulation. The best pieces tend to be the ones that pair Moiseiwitsch's ink-splashed scenes of carnage and rubble with deadpan, journalistic recountings of police brutality, the relocation of Canadian Japanese to work farms during WWII, and in the best, most horrifying story here, an examination of the brutal slog of trench warfare during WWI. And then there's "Fatal Fellatio," a Dennis Eichhorn-penned tale that's probably the darkest, ugliest thing he ever wrote, both because of the story itself and because Moiseiwitsch's wild abstractions and grotesque caricatures drive it towards a feverish, apocalyptic tone.

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5,000 km per Second by Manuele Fior
Wow, this thing is gorgeous. The painted colors are unreal, and each location and scene gets its own beautiful palette that lends it an ineffable mood. Even as someone who doesn't usually like this kind of fully painted look in comics, this is amazing-looking, and Fior's facility with body language goes a long way towards softening the stiffness I dislike in so many painted comics. That said, I ultimately fall somewhere between HFC (who raved over it) and Wombatz (who definitely didn't) on this one. It is undeniably classical in its themes and its ideas, it feels like 60s European cinema, heavily indebted to Bertolucci and Antonioni, and there's more than a little familiarity to its story beats that definitely detracts from the mood it's trying to convey. That said, it's just so accomplished on a formal level that it's hard not to be affected even in spite of oneself. When the final long chapter involved the central pair meeting again after many years on a rainy night and having an alternately caustic and flirty night getting drunk together, part of me was rolling my eyes but the rest of me was taking in how lovingly Fior draws the rain, and how good the faces are, and how intensely the emotions are communicated through every delicate brushstroke, every little shadow and squiggle of a mouth. There's something endearing, almost, in how rote what's being communicated is when compared against how forcefully, how passionately, it's communicated.

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The Interview by Manuele Fior
I liked this one even better. It still feels like it could be an Antonioni movie but it's edgier, weirder, less certain and settled in its ideas. This one is all in black and white, not painted, but it's just as gorgeous if not maybe even more so - I really love the textures in the night skies, the craggy face of the aging protagonist, the odd hair shapes of his young love interest, the loving detail put into cars and architecture. The fluidity and gracefulness of it all reminds me a lot of Lorenzo Mattotti when he works in b&w. As for the story, while I could maybe do without that coda - it did have some fantastic details though - the rest of it moves with this great dreamlike sense of inevitability where even the weirdest events seem to fit perfectly, and the protagonist often seems to be unclear of what his story even is, what's happening to him or why. The sci-fi hook, which could've easily seemed like just a gimmick, instead feels as hallucinatory and disorienting as it does to the characters themselves, and the effect is very powerful. Towards the end, one of the characters even spells out a metaphor for what the alien communications feel like and instead of feeling too overt and unsubtle, it's well earned, a fitting punctuation to the book's poignancy. Good stuff, I'm excited for Fior's new one this year.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Wed Apr 18, 2018 7:10 am

Great reviews :D I gotta read The Interview. Sevenarts did you read it in print?

Never having seen an Antonioni movie, maybe I'm more susceptible to the charms of 5kkmps. I recognised the themes of love, ageing and the strands of fate, but I guess it seemed classical to me, and deeply felt.

I'd like it if more people itt read The Arab of the Future so we can talk about how weird it is. I'll put it in the Dropbox is anyone wants it
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Postby sevenarts » Wed Apr 18, 2018 7:30 am

Yeah, I have print copies of the Fior books.

I'll have to check out The Arab of the Future. It never looked too appealing to my tastes but we'll see I guess.
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Postby Wombatz » Wed Apr 18, 2018 8:03 am

i'll bow out of the arab of the future but will get those flash marks, that looks like something i should know!
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Postby HotFingersClub » Thu Apr 19, 2018 8:14 am

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Ben Catmull's Ghosts and Ruins is a collection of b&w drawings, mostly of haunted houses, sometimes of actual ghosts, interspersed with tiny ghost stories, some of them no more than a few lines long, in what seems like a clear homage to Edward Gorey. I remember really liking the single issue I found of his series Monster Parade, but that was a lot more imaginative than this. It's fine - not the most interesting choice for him creatively

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Bruce Paley's memoir Giraffes in My Hair, illustrated by Carol Swain, is also a little overfamiliar, especially after reading very similar stuff in Dennis Eichorn's Real Stuff and Glenn Head's Chicago. Paley's writing doesn't have the spark or depth of either of those two; Swain is a great artist but maybe not right for this material: her tight, monochrome grids sap the anarchism of the story, which is one of the main things it has going for it. Some of Paley's exploits as a hitchhiking junkie are at least anecdotes worth relating, even if he loses marks for style.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Wed Apr 25, 2018 11:47 am

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Finally got around to Connor Willumsen’s Anti-Gone which was spectacular – it’s all I want in a comic: totally absorbing, totally sympathetic in its expression of a dreamlike imagined world. Loved it.

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Osamu Tezuka – Ambassador Magma
Another old Tezuka adventure serial, very much in the vein of Astro Boy. There’s even a virtually identical boy robot in this who does a lot of the legwork before they call in the titular giant golden living statue who it must be stressed is not a robot despite all appearances to the contrary. Like a lot of Tezuka’s stuff for younger readers, I love the basic setup and the dynamism of the art but I wish it was about 550 pages shorter. Man was a workhorse.

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Dave Cooper – Bent
An artbook by Dave Cooper, whose treatment of the female form was never exactly charming or even very interesting but is also seeming more and more grubby as time goes by. Even while it’s subversive in some sense, it still comes across as fetishisation in a way that’s not really any more palatable than the horny work of Bruce Timm and Rian Hughes. I do like his gloopy bubbly textures though. It would be cool if he thought of something else to draw.

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Mardon – Body and Soul
This is one of those pleasing constructions where a bunch of semi-related characters play out an interlocking drama, taking them periodically into contact with one another while only you, the lucky reader, gets to appreciate the whole rich tapestry. There’s a bit of an overreliance on cliché here: the ageing beauty obsessed with plastic surgery and ignored by her workaholic husband, the repressed young man who starts exploring violence and masochism. The cartooning is nice and it passes the time okay.
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Postby Melville » Wed Apr 25, 2018 12:28 pm

sevenarts wrote:And long stretches of the first volume, especially, are dedicated to Joe Matt's whiny, wordy diary comics that seem even longer than they are due to the tiny panels. Did people only think this guy was any good because he hung out with Seth and Chester Brown? It's so unbearable.

Jeez, you really dislike self-loathing autobio comics. I found The Poor Bastard collection pretty compulsively readable, and the self-deprecating humor and bare-all style mostly worked for me. Even if you dislike the subject matter and/or tone, Matt's pretty clearly good at expressive/rubbery cartooning.

5,000 km per Second by Manuele Fior

On the other hand, I read this a few weeks ago and found it pretty slight and tedious. It did remind me of a certain type of European movie, but in a bad way: flittery life lessons with nothing of the rawness or impact of actual life.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Thu May 03, 2018 6:19 am

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Jim Campbell – At the Shore
Just found the first issue of this on the torrents and I have no idea if the rest is available but I'm keen to read more. This issue reminded me a lot of Giant Days – a group of teenagers go to the beach and fart around a bit – the cartooning is good and it's actually funny and just feels good-natured. It looks like later issues bring in zombies, which I'm so sick of at this stage that it might even be a dealbreaker, but I'll probably stick around if it stays this funny.

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Keisuke Itagaki – Baki the Grappler
A venerable old fight manga from the early 90s. Looks like this will very much satisfy my craving for absurd boss rush comics. Loving the rubbery figurework – reminds me of Wuvable Oaf

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Tsukumizu – Girls' Last Tour
A slow, contemplative, melancholy manga about two girls driving through a post-apocalyptic city in a modified tank. It's well-done, filled with moment of low-key beauty, but I'm currently deep in Yokohama Kaidashi Kiko and feel like I might be overserved for stately post-apocalyptic stories where not much happens. Is anyone else reading? I think the anime adaptation is popular on this board.

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Sandrine Revel – Glenn Gould: A Life Off Tempo
An ethereal biography of Glenn Gould, which chops up and collages the events of his life in a way that sometimes obscures cause and effect. Not sure about that. I love the art and the general tone; the precise painting and texture of the panels. Would've been nice to maybe find out a bit more about Gould.
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Postby Mandingo » Thu May 03, 2018 8:59 am

personally of the three i find seth to easily be the most obnoxious/hateable of the bunch.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Wed May 16, 2018 9:53 am

Basically crying at work today over Raymond Briggs' Ethel & Ernest

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Postby sevenarts » Sun May 20, 2018 3:23 pm

I've always meant to read some Briggs stuff, he gets namedropped a lot.

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The Pervert by Remy Boydell & Michelle Perez
Readers of Island may remember some of these vignettes appearing in a few issues - brief, enigmatic shorts focusing on a trans sex worker, delivered with a deadpan, unflinching narrative style married to furry/funny animal imagery. Here that handful of vignettes is joined by many others as a debut graphic novel, together comprising a fragmentary, elliptical collection of moments, feelings, and experiences, little glimpses into relationships or states of being. Alternately harrowing, quietly sad, and darkly funny, this is a fantastic work, brutally honest and raw without ever seeming sensationalist. Perez's writing is remarkably direct and frank, and she's obviously coming from a place of very personal pain with a lot of the incidents depicted here. Boydell's art, with its muted watercolors and distinctive, expressive animal figures, would initially seem like an odd accompaniment for these potent stories, but the juxtaposition winds up being very powerful in itself. The book has a compelling atmosphere that is uniquely its own - there are a couple of visual tributes to Simon Hanselmann, who's the closest analogue for what Boydell and Perez are up to here, but the understated way this book lays out both its emotional gut-punches and its (much rarer) moments of humor definitely marks this debut as having its own sensibility. Highly recommended, an early pick for one of the best graphic novels of the year.
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Joined: Fri Dec 17, 2010 4:05 pm
Location: NY

Postby sevenarts » Sun May 20, 2018 8:28 pm

And two more...

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Grip Part 1 by Lale Westvind
Fantastic new chunk of GORGEOUS Lale Westvind wackiness. This is an amazing-looking riso-printed book from Perfectly Acceptable Press, who do probably the best justice I've ever seen to Westvind's out-there imagery - the colors in this absolutely pop, and the rubbery figure work and quasi-abstractions seem to leap off the page with perfect clarity. It's beautiful, and worth a look just to see Westvind's most visually stunning work yet, but as usual with her stuff there's more to it than that too. The book is mostly wordless and its narrative is loose, to say the least, but there's a clear thematic throughline here that makes it all hang together. The story concerns Westvind's powerful Rosie the Riveter-esque women working with their hands, and the fantastical imagery provides a series of visual metaphors for the energy and beauty and creativity of women's labor, as well as the collaborative spirit that causes these women to find solidarity with one another in a solid handshake, teaming up to serve diner patrons, fly airplanes, fix engines, and turn household appliances into hallucinatory machines of pure vibrational energy. I get a little of the vibe of Yuichi Yokoyama in the way Westvind makes seemingly ordinary tasks into vehicles for wild visual fancies but this is totally sui generis. Maybe her best book yet.

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Inside Vineyland by Lauren Weinstein
Weinstein's first proper comic from 2003, a Xeric-sponsored collection of odds and ends that showcases the freewheeling spirit of her early comics. Rough around the edges as expected but really quite fun. There's basically two strains here. The longest story in the book is a self-contained mini epic about a robot of mysterious origins who goes blankly and silently through life as the adopted "son" of a lonely man, vainly trying to find love and acceptance with rabbits, high school friends, and vacuum cleaners. It's engimatic, bizarrely funny, and infused with this intense feeling of melancholy beneath the absurdity. Quite good. The rest of the book is all random 1-2 page little strips, some goofy and absurdist, some pointedly feminist and political, some just tossed-off, half-assed gags. A very fun quick read and a great showcase for Weinstein's talent especially at this early point in her career.
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sevenarts
 
Posts: 4309
Joined: Fri Dec 17, 2010 4:05 pm
Location: NY

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