Alternative/independent comics thread

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Postby sevenarts » Wed Dec 06, 2017 4:46 pm

Yea, Drifting Classroom is pretty incredible too. Ito and Umezu just seem like they have very different interests and ideas about horror.
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Postby sevenarts » Wed Dec 06, 2017 5:12 pm

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Industrial Revolution & World War by Shintaro Kago
Warring societies of hamsters and crickets do battle by scavenging body parts from the feral humans they dig up, and turning the carcasses into tanks and construction equipment to build their cities. This isn't really much like the more formalist, boundary-pushing stories that first made Kago infamous, except that it shares those stories' depiction of a cruel, nonsensical world where the usual structures and social niceties either don't apply or are turned into farce. Kago's precise, architectural-like drawing makes the grotesque imagery of this story - which is totally silent but always very clear in its ideas - even more unsettling because there's such absolute clarity about it.

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Day of the Flying Head #1 by Shintaro Kago
If anything this makes Kago's intent for social parody even more apparent, as industrial waste, dumped in rivers and winding its way into the food supply from there, triggers a disease in which people's heads separate from their bodies, trailing all internal organs like a tail, and become aggressive and violent. It's another silent story with the emphasis squarely on Kago's wild and gory images. This one is the first issue of what's going to be a 4-issue series. Both of these books are published by the Italian Hollow Press, and it's great to see at least somebody making Kago's work available in the West, even though it's still baffling to me that nobody ever did a proper English collection of the stories like Abstraction where he really plays with form, because there's nothing else in comics like those.

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Scorched Earth by Tom Van Deusen
Absolutely hilarious, willfully nasty comics loosely purporting to be autobiographical but presumably - and hopefully - really aren't. Here's an artist who very much exists within the tradition of 80s/90s alt "guy" comics, like Noah Van Sciver who I've talked some shit about recently, but who manages to avoid seeming like he's disappearing up his own ass just by being a really incredible comedic writer whose characters, however caricatured they are, actually feel like they have a core of truth to them. Here, his stand-in Tom searches for easy sex on internet dating sites while spewing an absolutely astonishing variety of horrible ideas at every opportunity. It's over-the-top, unrelentingly cynical, and really really funny.

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Showtime by Antoine Cosse
Interesting new GN from Cosse, his follow-up to Mutiny Bay. Like that one, this is dreamlike and odd, as much about how the story's told as what it's about. Here, layers of artifice pile up separating readers from the story of a mysterious magician who disappeared years ago after a trick had some unintended consequences, and who's now about to stage a comeback. Cosse hides the real story behind misdirection and framing stories within framing stories, creating really neat effects with inset panels that take place on different levels of the storytelling. All the showy stagecraft involved in unfurling the tale of course dovetails nicely with the core narrative about the magician. The book is gorgeous, full of rich ink washes and beautifully cartoony characters. Cosse's art just keeps getting better and he's also getting bolder with abstraction and using minimalist, really unique layouts that often eschew panel borders and let the tiny images float in acres of white space. The story never quite feels like it goes anywhere, which has been a problem I've had with Cosse's shorter works before, and I don't feel like this is on the level of Mutiny Bay or his sci-fi short in Now #1 but it's still very intriguing.
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Postby Drinky » Wed Dec 06, 2017 11:16 pm

Did anyone else do Nicholas Gurewitch's (PBF Comics guy) Kickstarter thing from a few years ago? The book finally arrived. It's really pretty, but there's not much to it. I think it was supposed to be more serious, but it's kind of just like a longer, more elaborate PBF Comics strip.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Thu Dec 07, 2017 4:30 am

Feels like a looong time since Gurewitch did anything worth reading
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Postby HotFingersClub » Thu Dec 07, 2017 4:33 am

Shintaro Kago's formalist comics absolutely scorched my brain when I first read them. They're so precise and like the opposite of half-baked. Fully baked. Like there are so many ideas and they're each explored to perfect completion. I didn't realise there was no official English translation and I guess I'm surprised although with his subject matter I could see why it'd be a hard sell to publishers.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Thu Dec 07, 2017 9:29 am

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Jillian Tamaki – Boundless
Fantastic collection of shorts from Tamaki. In total it surpasses Supermutant Magic Academy as her best work I think. The illustration is low key beautiful. She has complete control of that classy minimalist thought-provoking thing. I loved how stories like “Sexcoven” unfolded completely naturally and unpredictably. It's so organic I love it.
5/5

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Jose Domingo – Adventures of a Japanese Businessman
Another genuine treat. This is a wordless isometric story about a little grey-haired businessman who leaves the office and accidentally goes on an insane odyssey through time and space. The way it unfolds is so satisfying, like Where's Wally in motion, as incidental details change from panel to panel, bursting into significance and disappearing again. You get the impression that, outside of the panel, the businessman's whole world is carrying on in exactly this manner. Great fun.
4/5

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Megan Kelso – Artichoke Tales
Although the adult themes are more front and centre here, this book reminded me a lot of Linda Medley's Castle Waiting, which similarly has a soft, yielding quality that does very little to intentionally excite you. Artichoke Tales is set in a divided kingdom of these flowerpot men-style people, who are engaged in a civil war. A boy from the north meets a girl from the south, and a family saga grows from there. It's decent. There's a good sense of some kind of meaningful connection between this world and our own, although the comparisons are never explicit. The basic cartooning lets it down a bit, I think. The limited expressiveness and colour palette are a little disengaging, and a lot of the characters are basically identical, which isn't ideal for a sprawling saga.
2/5

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Tom Kaczynski – Beta Testing the Apocalypse
I would have loved to like this more. It seems to be aiming for a contemporary Kafkaism, which I'm down with in theory. Unfortunately, it's often oppressively overwritten, going extremely purple in its thought processes as well as its ever-present and completely unnecessary narration. Kaczynski really sucks the fun out of his own premises.
1/5

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Tony Millionaire – Billy Hazelnuts and the Crazy Bird
What a unique voice is Tony Millionaire. Catch me in the right mood and I'm extremely receptive to the mix of old ships, suicidal alcoholism and funny animals. Billy, an “abomination” made out of suet, beats the shit out of an innocent owl* and then takes it upon himself to return its baby, prompting a fun caper during which Billy is slowly ripped to shreds by his charge. I remember the original Billy Hazelnuts book having a genuine beauty which I think this one mostly forgoes, but this is still a blast. Weird, funny and totally idiosyncratic, without the headachey density of Maakies
4/5


*“WISE OLD OWL!!!! HERE'S A NEW THOUGHT FOR YOU, KNOWLEDGEABLE BIRD! HAVE YOU EVER HEARD ABOUT GETTING YOUR BRAINS BASHED IN?” (Beats owl viciously with fencepost)
Last edited by HotFingersClub on Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:47 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby sevenarts » Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:09 am

Good stuff. I like SuperMutant Magic Academy but there's no question to me that the short stories in Boundless are where Tamaki's real talent can be found. Each one is so well-formed and structured and yet they flow really well, it never feels forced. And the stories fit together so well. I loved SexCoven (from her Frontier issue) so imagine my delight to find there's a whole suite of thematically resonant stories that match its impact.

I think I liked Artichoke Tales slightly more than you but can't really disagree. Castle Waiting is a good comparison, they're both very low-stakes works where it's more about the gentle rhythms of everyday life than trying to go for big drama all the time - though iirc certainly more happens in the Kelso book than ever does with Medley. Kelso, like Tamaki, I think is really best suited for short stories - her book The Squirrel Mother was amazing, a collection of really quiet but formally precise shorts that are really good at getting at rich emotions beneath simple surfaces. It's a shame she doesn't seem to do anything in comics anymore.
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Postby Wombatz » Thu Dec 07, 2017 1:33 pm

HotFingersClub wrote:Tom Kaczynski – Beta Testing the Apocalypse
I would have loved to like this more. It seems to be aiming for a contemporary Kafkaism, which I'm down with in theory. Unfortunately, it's often oppressively overwritten, going extremely purple in its thought processes as well as its ever-present and completely unnecessary narration. Kaczynski really sucks the fun out of his own premises.
1/5

i'd give this a solid 5 out of 5! i see nothing kafkaesque in it, he takes common rhetoric about the way we live and projects it slightly into the future. yes it is illustrated narrative boxes rather than comics, but i think that actually is the premise, the attractions and impossibilities of a plannable life, and i think the detail is meticulous, and sometimes very fun (the neanderthal story?). of course it's been some time since i read it ...
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Postby HotFingersClub » Thu Dec 07, 2017 5:09 pm

Man, I'm jealous. Was really looking forward to cracking into it but I just couldn't engage with it at all. The neanderthal story was my favourite
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Postby Wombatz » Sun Dec 10, 2017 5:46 pm

don't envy another's bad taste :) in adventures in better taste: i've read Anti-Gone today. the title is groanworthy and when i thumbed through it my heart sank, as i didn't much like the cover nor the fake tracing paper conceit (on first sight, once i was into it, the chiaroscuro space and the fact it could go both toward light and dark actually allows amazing effects/moods), and especially not the cast of this comic, a couple of nouveaux riches fit for reality television ... but it's totally fantastic. actually i thought it's not a million miles from cossé in the use of space and washes, the endgame of capitalism setting, the breaches of style ... though this is more ambitious and stronger on first reading ... still, shall we pronounce them a movement?
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Postby sevenarts » Sun Dec 10, 2017 6:06 pm

Wombatz wrote:don't envy another's bad taste :) in adventures in better taste: i've read Anti-Gone today. the title is groanworthy and when i thumbed through it my heart sank, as i didn't much like the cover nor the fake tracing paper conceit (on first sight, once i was into it, the chiaroscuro space and the fact it could go both toward light and dark actually allows amazing effects/moods), and especially not the cast of this comic, a couple of nouveaux riches fit for reality television ... but it's totally fantastic. actually i thought it's not a million miles from cossé in the use of space and washes, the endgame of capitalism setting, the breaches of style ... though this is more ambitious and stronger on first reading ... still, shall we pronounce them a movement?


I also thought of Cosse a bit while reading it, there's definitely some aesthetic overlap though like you I thought Anti-Gone was lots more substantial and ambitious than anything I've read from Cosse, as much as I've enjoyed Mutiny Bay and some of his shorts.

It's funny, I had Anti-Gone sitting around for a long time because just leafing through it, I wasn't sure what to make of it and I never quite seemed to be in the mood to tackle it. But once I finally gave it a shot it totally brightened my whole day because it was just so good. There's something about it that looks kinda forbidding and hard to get a handle on until you're actually immersed in it I think. Totally unique, amazing book anyway.
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