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
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Postby sevenarts » Tue Feb 06, 2018 7:41 am

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Naughty Bits by Roberta Gregory
Like many woman cartoonists from earlier eras, Gregory seems to have been a bit forgotten in recent years. She was a pioneering indie comic artist, active since the 70s, and probably the first woman cartoonist to do her own proper solo book (the feminist gag strip collection Dynamite Damsels in 1976). Naughty Bits was her long-running solo series that stretched 40 issues from the early 90s to the mid-2000s, mostly starring her most famous creation, Bitchy Bitch, AKA Midge, an office drone who grouses and rages her way through one situation after another. Midge is a pretty hateful, vile character, an unthinking racist who's nasty to everyone she meets. What's interesting about the book is how quickly Gregory turns the premise from a rather shallow and grating one into something with a lot of potential for deeper stories. Midge isn't really an interesting character in her present-day incarnation, she's pretty one-note and prone to long, angry internal monologues stretched across multiple wordy balloons - I'll confess I pretty quickly started skimming all her rants, because these stories just aren't that funny and the dialogue gets repetitive really fast whenever it's focused on her. The interesting part is that Gregory doesn't remain in the present for long, perhaps sensing the limits of the character, and instead flashes back to Midge's past in stories that delve into child abuse - and the helplessness of young girls who feel they have no one to reach out to - abortion, men pressuring women into sex, attitudes towards lesbians, and the limited career options of young women. These stories set in the past are dagger-sharp feminist critiques of various institutions and social conventions, and they're also well-researched historical pieces that are really rich in the atmosphere of the 60s and 70s, the era when Gregory herself was growing up and exploring her identity. There's also a throughline that traces Midge's present-day hateful attitudes to the way she was raised and the things she's experienced, not quite providing a justification for her present self but simply demonstrating that her personality had its foundation in the racism and xenophobia of her parents and schoolmates.

As the book goes on, it gradually becomes less and less interesting. The more substantial Midge stories continue to be interesting but they are increasingly pushed out of the book in favor of some pretty boring autobiographical material, which is mostly just travelogues of various trips Gregory takes to visit comic conventions, with small drawings dwarfed by the text crammed all around them. There's still interesting stuff right up to the end - notably a gory, surrealist sequence in one of the late issues where Midge, terrified of breast cancer and menopause, imagines fighting with her body, as her breasts grow fangs and assault her. But the overall thrust of the book is dulled well before that, which is a shame.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Wed Feb 07, 2018 11:13 am

I read some stuff this week but I don't have much to say about it (that I haven't said before). Here's some pictures:

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Benjamin Marra – American Blood
A collection of older zine stuff from Marra. Definitely doesn't reach the moderate heights of Terror Assaulter i.e. it's pretty ugly and not funny. Your mileage may vary.
1/5

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Paul Hornschemeier – Artists Authors Thinkers Directors
I hope Hornschemeier has someone who's enough of a fan to buy a whole book full of sketches of auteurs. The portraits are alright-lookin' but they're all in one of about five styles that he employs, and the selection of auteurs is fine but not super interesting. Lots of white dudes.
1/5

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Josh Alan Friedman & Drew Friedman – Any Similarity to Persons Living or Dead is Purely Coincidental
I don't have much familiarity with the reference points but I still enjoy these stories of deadpan surrealism in the marginalia of old Hollywood. I love Drew's art and (while I don't know much about him) I feel like he must have had a pretty heavy influence on a bunch of indie comix guys working today. Kupperman springs to mind especially.
3/5
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Postby sevenarts » Wed Feb 07, 2018 12:32 pm

LOL how does that Hornschemeier book exist? I remember around the MOME era Fantagraphics would hype him up a lot as a hot young artist and I always thought he was so boring.
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Postby gold and glass » Wed Feb 07, 2018 6:52 pm

Does anyone here have any knowledge or advice regarding comics distribution? I've made a couple little art books/zines over the past year and I used to just drop them off at stores when I would visit various cities on tour or vacation. But how do you actually get your stuff in ... every store? Or a lot of stores?

Boarder andrei and I are halfway through a book and I'm basically wondering what the next step is after you make a comic. I've got printing covered more or less.

Thanks!
fuck you and your corporation
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Postby gold and glass » Wed Feb 07, 2018 7:04 pm

also HotFingersClub, your insight is wonderful, your reviews are spot on (fuck American Blood), but your x/5 scores on everything basically give me panic attacks just upon seeing them.

I dunno, I'm just saying
fuck you and your corporation
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Postby sevenarts » Wed Feb 07, 2018 7:42 pm

I'm not that knowledgeable about distribution but Diamond basically said fuck you to indie books years ago. I think most self-publishers and smaller publishers now do some combination of:

1. Set up a webshop
2. Go to comic shows
3. Hook up with an indie publisher to distribute
4. Reach out to comic shops that are receptive to indie books
5. Go to specialized mini distributors, depending on style, like John Porcellino's Spit and a Half
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Postby HotFingersClub » Thu Feb 08, 2018 7:34 am

gold and glass wrote:also HotFingersClub, your insight is wonderful, your reviews are spot on (fuck American Blood), but your x/5 scores on everything basically give me panic attacks just upon seeing them.

I dunno, I'm just saying


lol absolutely fair enough mate. The scores satisfy some kind of cataloguing impulse for me and come in handy for end of year lists but I can definitely keep them to myself
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Postby sevenarts » Fri Feb 09, 2018 10:28 pm

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No Better Words by Carolyn Nowak
This riiiiips. Lusty, delirious minicomic from one of the artists on Lumberjanes. It's a poetic, overwrought, intense short piece about overwhelming desire. Shifts effortlessly from reality to a series of introspective fantasies and metaphors and back again. Absolutely gorgeous art. And the way she captures the intense, awkward feelings of 2 people expressing their lust for one another is just incredible. I'm really in love with this comic, it's self-consciously goofy, unafraid to be really vulnerable, and it's both ragingly sexy and kinda discomfiting just because it feels like it's almost too intimate. Very highly recommended, especially if anyone's thirsting for a good sex comic that actually has a strong emotional underpinning.

Was excited to learn that Nowak has a book, Girl Town, out later this year, collecting a few of her other minis that I haven't read, but probably not this one, which eventually just becomes straight-up pornographic. She's one to watch for sure.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Wed Feb 14, 2018 10:08 am

That looks killer
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Postby HotFingersClub » Wed Feb 14, 2018 10:09 am

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Una – Becoming Unbecoming
This book seems so much a part of the 2017/2018 climate, it’s hard to believe it was first published in 2015. It starts off as memoir, about the author’s life as a girl growing up in Yorkshire during the long reign of terror of the Yorkshire Ripper, and dealing with an adolescence where she was repeatedly hounded, assaulted and shamed. Then about halfway through the scope widens as she starts talking about the problem of misogyny across the world. In a way, it’s a shame the book predated the current atmosphere of scandal and that Una didn’t get to engage with it here, but there’s also a sense that, by not including details of those cases, it shows up the “celebrity” aspect of the current conversation as being the distraction it is, concealing the problem’s endemic nature. This book is incredibly bleak in places but also discursive and level-headed. The final thirteen pages are incredibly powerful. The visual style is simple, sometimes more so than seems necessary, some pages are starkly beautiful but elsewhere there seems to have been little attempt made to find interesting compositions. Whether this subject would really benefit from beauty is debatable though.

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Robert Triptow – Class Photo
Triptow is apparently “the last of the underground cartoonists” and has bonafides in the early LGBT+ comix scene, but it doesn’t show here very much apart from in the art, which has a kind of baggy scratchy quality that I associate with Crumb and American Splendor, and familiar cramped layouts*. This book is essentially a creative writing exercise – Triptow looking at an old class photo and dreaming up wacky biographies for all the kids. It’s entertaining but doesn’t quite take flight; Ben Katchor does the same thing with more personality.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Wed Feb 14, 2018 11:46 am

I forgot to add my asterisk:

*I'd be really interested to know, from someone with a better understanding of comics history, when did this super cramped style (which runs right through Crumb, Kominsky, Spiegelman etc) start to get replaced with the more spacious modern cartooning of people like Eleanor Davis? Who were the first cartoonists to popularise breathing room in comix? I think it might be Los Bros Hernandez but some of their early stuff (esp. Jaime) is still pretty dense
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Postby sevenarts » Thu Feb 15, 2018 1:16 am

That's funny, Triptow showed up a few times doing guest strips in Naughty Bits - some pretty goofy comics about a pair of beefy gay dudes bickering. Hadn't heard the name before that.

I couldn't say where it starts but I'd imagine the move away from that cramped Crumbian style involved lots of artists finding inspiration in and getting back in touch with the clean lines and space of older cartooning or foreign influences - John Stanley, Herge, etc. So yea, Los Bros were probably one important locus of that - they both seem way more influenced by old "glamour" cartoonists or, like, Archie, than by the undergrounds of the 60s and 70s. Were they the first big "indie" artists to kinda eschew the underground lineage?

I'd probably point to 90s minicomics minimalism - John Porcellino and dozens of others photocopying their doodles - as another pretty big, maybe more direct influence on a lot of the modern minimalist, poetic modern comics that continue to go further and further in this direction.
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Postby south pacific » Thu Feb 15, 2018 7:57 am

incredibly excited to finish this series soon, July 31st release

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This gory space Odyssey ends the only way it can, with a final fight that pits our antihero and avatar of destruction against the system that shaped him but couldn’t break him. Johnny Ryan’s filthy, satirical graphic novel series, which has been adapted into animation, was a notable mention in The Best American Comics 2011, has been turned into action figures and skate decks and adapted into multiple languages around the world, finally concludes! This extra-length final volume is four years in the making and delivers on every front! Black & white illustrations throughout.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Thu Feb 15, 2018 11:05 am

Porcellino is a great shout actually. I'm not a huge fan but you can see his influence everywhere
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Postby Wombatz » Fri Feb 23, 2018 9:40 am

so what do you know, my generally awful local library had two books by Manuele Fior!

HotFingersClub wrote:Image
Manuele Fior – 5,000 km Per Second
This is really fantastic. In linked vignettes spanning about thirty years, we see the prelude to a brief relationship between two Italian teenagers, and then decades’ worth of minor fallout as they move on, move away and occasionally think about one another. There are a lot of similarities here to thread favourite Eleanor Davis, especially in the colourful, simple, expressive art, although I think Fior has slightly more rigidity to his stuff in a way that makes it perhaps more prosaic but also grants a rich and distinctive atmosphere to the settings. Italy, Egypt and Norway are all completely distinct but equally gorgeous. This is really worth seeking out and would absolutely be pick of the week in any other week.
5/5


i did not like this as much. it reminded me of one of those arthouse movies that wallow in the meaningful sadnesses of life which make us all so very human. we have our touching awkwardnesses and emotional shortcomings and need to travel to norway to ponder our conflicted feelings which we then write proper letters on paper about, because communication is the ultimate but oh so hopeless artform, we become archeologists in egypt, our children make us face the realities of life, and all our regrets are pure poetry. i must admit i do not enjoy those movies and likewise didn't enjoy this incredibly accomplished comic. my heart (if any there is) must be in the wrong place.

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The Interview, on the other hand, had me really excited over most of its pages. the art (b/w this time) is even better, there's a whole new silent layer of psychology, it's incredible what he can do with faces, or with atmospheres while moving through places ... again it's a world we half know from the cinema, 60s italian films, traditional morals vs hippie youth, mixed with some initially vague sf elements. totally brilliant. unfortunately, there are some rather awful panels, where Fior pastes photos, especially of nudes, into the drawings ... a totally baffling misstep in view of the expressivity of his art. i also did not like the ending, which juggled both a well worn decision between wife and enticing young girl and a too explanatory reveal of the sf/hippie background. still, what a talent. i'll definitely check his other stuff.
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Postby sevenarts » Mon Mar 05, 2018 12:03 am

Been a while since I posted here, mainly because it took me forever to read:

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Elfquest by Wendy & Richard Pini & many others - second phase
When last I left off with this, I'd read the original cycle, which consisted of an ongoing + 2 followup miniseries that together told essentially one big epic story. Right after that, things got more fractured as Elfquest became a franchise instead of just a creator-driven indie handled exclusively by the wife-and-husband creative team. The early 90s comics boom was in full effect, and the Pinis were starting to get involved in animation, so they split their creation into a whole line of titles, mostly handled by other people.

There was nevertheless still a core series with the Pinis working on it. At the start, this was called Hidden Years, which starts out with Wendy doing some beautiful, lushly painted short stories that are kind of aimless - there's a real lack of urgency and purpose since the original cycle built to such an epic conclusion. Eventually things start gathering momentum again and there's a great storyline called "Shards" that introduces a new status quo for the elf universe. This story also introduces Brandon McKinney as the artist, looking pretty close to Wendy's art - he'd become one of the major contributors to the new line, and one of the better ones. Even without Wendy on art, McKinney is not a bad stand-in, and the storytelling is as dramatic, compelling, and action-packed as ever, building off of years of characterization and pushing into new directions. "Shards" would lead to a further split in the line: at its conclusion, the main elf tribe splits in two, with many of the original cycle's characters heading off to a new series also called Shards, leaving behind mostly the younger generation and newer characters in Hidden Years, led by Ember, the daughter of the series' main hero Cutter.

Both split series would continue to be really compelling, heading along parallel tracks with the two sets of characters, now involved in very distinct storylines. In Shards, the Pinis and McKinney crafted an epic tale of a war against a cruel human warlord, which in its scope, excitement, characterization, and sharp storytelling is nearly the equal of the original cycle's more action-driven segments. Hidden Years is quite good too, taken over by the new team of Joellyn Auklandus and Steve Blevins, who do a good job of fleshing out this cast of mostly secondary characters. These two books are clearly the cream of the crop from this era, though I couldn't bring myself to actually read many of the others: Blood of Ten Chiefs, an anthology that looks mired in dodgy art; New Blood, a showcase for writer/artist Barry Blair (more on him soon, ugh); Wavedancers, about mermaid elves; and a few others. I did read Jink, a sci-fi far-future tale that has little connection to the other titles, written by John Ostrander of all people, not someone I expected to see pop up here. I guess it baffled him too because this was terrible. His wife and frequent writing partner Kim Yale did a much better job on Kahvi, which surely benefits as well from being about one of the most interesting and fun side characters.

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By late 1995, all the new series, which had started in full color in contrast to the original 80s run, switched back to b&w, a sure sign that the contracting comic market was starting to hit the line. Soon they came up with a plan to end all the various series and consolidate everything under a new title simply called Elfquest. The new book was an anthology with 4 stories in most lengthy issues, pulled from a rotating assortment of ongoing serials, and calling it a mixed bag is a definite understatement. Most issues had Wendy Pini doing a new story, but since she didn't want to start on the next major arc of the main cast yet, these stories are character pieces (the first suite is a series of dream remembrances focusing on one of the main elves in each issue) and are set in the past. Still, good stuff and her art in the "Dreamtime" arc is some of her best, lushest ever, all in b&w with beautiful use of ink washes. The other standout is Auklandus' "Wild Hunt" storyline, which continues the story of Ember's tribe from Hidden Years and finds a fine artist in Lorraine Reyes, one of the only artists from this stable who does good work (in a manga-ish style) without simply aping Wendy. In the absence of any real ongoing narrative for the main cast, "Wild Hunt" picks up the slack quite nicely and is the only thing in this era that really approaches the ambition and drama of the original run.

The rest of this title is kind of a wasteland. McKinney was given one of the series' best antiheroes, with a bonkers hook that leads directly from the end of Shards, but somehow the result is completely boring and oddly low on stakes, often trying to strike a weird buddy comedy vibe that falls completely flat. The mermaids return and are a total snooze. There are more future stories with Jink and some rebel humans, still not good. There are some abysmal Star Wars parodies drawn by Bill Neville that seem to take up half an issue at times and in all those pages never land a good gag. And then there's Barry Blair, making me very glad I didn't read his New Blood series. His stuff is a special kind of terrible, focusing on a small town near an elven forest, and a pair of elves who gather up a group of kids to live with them in the woods. Blair's stories suck, but his art is unbearably icky, with all his characters looking simultaneously childlike and sexualized. It gets actually disturbing to even look at at times, and one of the characters, a middle-aged man who has an ambiguously defined but very close relationship with a young servant boy, just has to be a warm, affectionate depiction of a pedophile.

Anyway, this series ran 33 issues, until early 1999, and its conclusion marked the last major Elfquest project for some time. There were a pair of specials in 2001, one of which continued "The Wild Hunt," now with Auklandus and Pini cowriting and McKinney on art. That one's a great little story that seems to set up a new epic but it wasn't followed up on. Instead, as a preview of what I'll cover whenever I feel like finishing this stuff up: there was a brief period when the franchise resided at DC, which resulted in just a handful of new issues, and then over the last few years Wendy and Richard finally returned to the main story in the 24-issue Final Quest. Next time I feel like reading about elves I guess.
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Postby Wombatz » Tue Mar 06, 2018 11:44 am

some recent ones. thanks to sevenarts i got myself

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Impatience by Ines Estrada. i can't look it up since the site's search function seems shot, but i think sevenarts wrote this book was truest to her aesthetic. and it's an incredible feat of self-publishing with red-dusted edges and silver inlays on the cover. while it collects smaller stories, it still reads like a rounded piece of work, different perspectives on the same life style, the author's voice totally immersed in this. even when it gets surreal it's more like the protagonists' moods and mindframes move into a life of their own, so it all still rings true ... which also is the only downside for me, that i'm not usually into the slice of life thing or the partying habits of the current youth, but that's not at all the fault of this pretty great little book.

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Bikeman 3 by Jon Chad. just look at those blacks (well, you can't really tell from the photo i guess). bikeman loves his little self-raised horde of bikes, and when he's ambushed by a wolfman (who thinks he's a wolf, while bikeman doesn't take himself for a bike) they battle mightily. it's beautifully done and nicely bonkers ... i think i'm happy with just issue 3 because i suspect this reads a lot better without any knowledge of the back story and googling tells me i do not like how the artist renders proper humans, so the recommendation is just for this single issue and nothing else by chad(urjian).

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Kidnapping by Johannes Stahl. he's to my mind maybe the greatest talent among the german comics makers. from nuremberg, which is albrecht dürer country, and indeed he often works from a woodcut aesthetic, especially in his previous series, fighting for foolism published by hirnplatzt (if the aesthetic appeals to you, start with fighting for foolism 2 to 4 (1 is still juvenilia), they're kind of perfect and probably easier to get hold of). now he's back to self-publishing, the previous one was almost too rough/punkish and in german, this one is beautifully made in a4 with different paper colors, mostly in english and very good again, a bit into the gore and tons of heavy lines direction i associate with u.s. hardcore punk and skateboarding (no idea what that style of cartooning is officially called, it's a bit outside of my usual interests). staunchly leftist and with a knack for meme-worthy panels ... here's a classic example that's not from this zine:

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Postby HotFingersClub » Wed Mar 07, 2018 12:10 pm

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Mike Richardson & Paul Chadwick – Best Wishes
I think this book may have benefited from the fact that Richardson founded Dark Horse, because it’s not strong. There’s a solid elevator pitch: two New Yorkers throw a coin into the same fountain at the same time, and their wishes get mixed up. The vibe is unintentionally retro in kind of a fusty way, Claremontian or Eisnerish, with the street fashions to match. Chadwick has done great work in the past, but something about the inking here is absolutely eradicating the clarity of his line. There’s a lumpy, blurry quality to a lot of it; gives it a really cheap look.

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Osamu Tezuka – Crime and Punishment
A relatively straight condensed adaptation, from what I can remember of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. It’s an early Tezuka – he would later get more expansive, more ambitious, and much more shiny, but the cartooning is already incredible. It would take decades for comics to get back to this level of cinematic clarity.

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Jonathan Case – Dear Creature
This is the debut graphic novel by the guy who went on to produce The New Deal and provide the gorgeous art for Doom Patrol, and it’s recognisably a first book. The art is already pretty great, although sometimes suffers from intelligibility issues where the shadows are on the verge of overwhelming the detail. The story is wacky: a giggly deep sea fish man who preys on hormonal lovers comes across a stash of Shakespeare plays in bottles and ventures in the surface world, speaking in Shakespearian iambic pentameter, where he falls in love with a middle-aged agoraphobic woman living on a boat. Maybe it’s being reprinted to coincide with Shape of Water fever? That only just occurred to me. For me, it was not as charming as it needed to be, perhaps a three way disconnect between the lighthearted tone, the dark and claustrophobic art, and the lack of any real good jokes.

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Ryoko Kui – Delicious in Dungeon v1
Now this has charm to spare. In what is essentially a D&D game come to life (characters even make reference to “dying” and starting again) a small band of adventurers lose one of their own and must mount a rescue mission. Only one problem: they’re all hungry! Cue this book, which essentially dramatizes the cooking sections of Breath of the Wild. With a dwarf chef as our guide, the team wander through the dungeon, killing monsters and learning how to cook their body parts for lunch. The cooking is given slightly more prominence than the fighting, and is presented in kind of an educational style with nutritional information and everything. I think if you could work out the analogous ingredients, this book could probably teach you a lot about cooking by principle alone. Pick this up and stick around at least until the chapter about how to cook living armour, which is a real showcase for what this series is all about.

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Patrick Kyle – Distance Mover
Did not hook me on Patrick Kyle, sadly. I kind of like the hieroglyphic design style but the sci-fi story about Mr. Earth trying to get his spaceship back was pretty much interminable.

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Keenan Marshall Keller & Tom Neely – The Humans
The Comics Journal put this in the same camp as Johnny Ryan and Benjamin Marra, which I can sort of see. They said that Prison Pit is for the child inside, and The Humans is for the stoned teenager. Makes sense, because I find all three creators pretty tedious. This book is basically what if Planet of the Apes were Hell’s Angels, and it has a higher quotient of traditional craft but whether it’s genuine histrionics or ironic distance, my eyes glaze over at this kind of thing. Fine for four issues and I won’t stick with it. Tom Neely’s solo stuff has so much more depth and creativity.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Wed Mar 07, 2018 12:12 pm

Sevenarts I really appreciate the Elfquest review but I cannot be induced to follow you there.

Wombatz all three of those look great. Got to get my hands on the Ines Estrada. The Jon Chad art looks like Paul Pope. Mm tasty
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Postby sevenarts » Wed Mar 07, 2018 6:05 pm

Good reviews, guys. That Stahl book looks great. Totally agree that Distance Mover and The Humans are pretty unsatisfying - Humans was especially disappointing to me because I love Neely so much. I don't think I read past the first issue of that. Keller is a buddy of Neely's from a collective they were in together, he contributed to Neely's Danzig/Rollins romance comics.

Glad everyone's getting on the Ines Estrada train now. She rules.

And conversely I don't expect anyone to follow my lead on Elfquest. I've been having fun catching up on it but it obviously comes with a host of caveats and such.
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Postby Wombatz » Thu Mar 08, 2018 6:48 am

ooh, i'd love a proper analog copy of the osamu tezuka crime and punishment ... but it seems too hard/expensive to get hold of
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Postby HotFingersClub » Thu Mar 08, 2018 7:33 am

HotFingersClub wrote:Jonathan Case – Dear Creature
This is the debut graphic novel by the guy who went on to produce The New Deal and provide the gorgeous art for Doom Patrol, and it’s recognisably a first book. The art is already pretty great, although sometimes suffers from intelligibility issues where the shadows are on the verge of overwhelming the detail. The story is wacky: a giggly deep sea fish man who preys on hormonal lovers comes across a stash of Shakespeare plays in bottles and ventures in the surface world, speaking in Shakespearian iambic pentameter, where he falls in love with a middle-aged agoraphobic woman living on a boat. Maybe it’s being reprinted to coincide with Shape of Water fever? That only just occurred to me. For me, it was not as charming as it needed to be, perhaps a three way disconnect between the lighthearted tone, the dark and claustrophobic art, and the lack of any real good jokes.


Correction: Nick Derington is the artist on Doom Patrol. Jonathan Case did Batman '66 and Green River Killer, both of which also look great
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Postby Melville » Sun Mar 11, 2018 12:48 pm

HotFingersClub wrote:Correction: Nick Derington is the artist on Doom Patrol. Jonathan Case did Batman '66 and Green River Killer, both of which also look great

Green River Killer is pretty meh. (I'm assuming, perhaps wrongly, that you haven't read it.)

I read DeForge's Sticks Angelica yesterday. Loved it so much. I'm amazed by how he twists the details of our world to create something new and uncanny -- and in this instance, damn funny. I'd rank this easily among his best.
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Postby Wombatz » Mon Mar 12, 2018 11:47 am

speaking of german talent, i read

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Kopfsachen by Uli Oesterle. he's maybe known through hector umbra, which has been translated i think. that was a nice mix of mignolesque art and munichian scenesterdom (though probably the achievement does not fully translate, it's just that there are no german comics like that at all). kopfsachen collects mostly earlier stories and as such is bound to be a bit disappointing. these are very much stories, with a proper build-up and genre-appropriate punchline, a bit like a creepy tale, only more literary, in that i think they're mostly stolen from roald dahl: saving the skin of a tattooed guy, then killing him off so the masterwork in ink can be displayed undamaged, a gourmet feeding on his own limbs as the ultimate delicacy ... all of that feels pretty familiar. oesterle should work with a writer sometimes. it's still pretty ok, and some of the pages are a joy.

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Compulsive Comics by Eric Haven. also a collection of mostly older stuff, where stylized battle scenes between strange creatures in clear colors are mixed with mostly b/w stories that center around a sort of chriswarian miserablist (who kills both dan clowes and adrian tomine running them over with his car). wonderfully mixed and sequenced ... until we get 20 contextless pages in operatic purple prose from what was supposed to become a collective graphic novel. why on earth does haven kill his book just to save this stuff ... still lots of good things here, but that was unnecessary.

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The March Hare by Keith Giffen and Robert Loren Fleming. i'm a total sucker for giffen under the munoz influence (and think he's much more interesting than munoz). i guess you have to be a fan to love this as much as i do (or even see a point at all). it's from 1986, a single issue, looks like they planned making it a series, which never happened (so we won't learn why those people from the cola commercials never burp). it is humorous in tone, but even the humor is abstract, so it's pretty much halfway between dr. fate and video jack. a professional killer is cursed with an imaginary (and cursorily drawn) hare, but manages to convince himself he doesn't go mad. here's the adorable doggie who steals his liquor:

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Postby HotFingersClub » Tue Mar 13, 2018 7:34 am

Melville wrote:
HotFingersClub wrote:Correction: Nick Derington is the artist on Doom Patrol. Jonathan Case did Batman '66 and Green River Killer, both of which also look great

Green River Killer is pretty meh. (I'm assuming, perhaps wrongly, that you haven't read it.)


I have read it and agree it's nothing too exciting - I just meant I liked Case's art on it. "Great" is probably a little strong in retrospect
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Postby sevenarts » Wed Mar 14, 2018 12:44 am

That Giffen book looks dope. I'm such a sucker for when he does tight grid layouts.

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Romance by Simon Hanselmann
I usually don't buy a lot of Hanselmann's minis, both because they're gone so fast and because they mostly get reprinted in the collections anyway. Did grab this one though, a short, bleak little comic that finally moves on from the period in his characters' lives depicted in his last 3 books, showing Megg and Mogg after Owl moves out. Hanselmann's books have gotten progressively darker these last few years and this is no exception. This is bleeeeeaak shit. Really depressing and all the humor is kind of sour and sad as well. Sometimes you just have terrible sex with your cat and then go out dancing and break down. Hanselmann's just got such fine control of this world at this point that even dead-eyed miniatures like this one make for a pretty satisfying, if discomfiting, read.

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Why Art? by Eleanor Davis
Davis' new book starts as a deadpan, parodic art textbook, with short epigrams and questions accompanying minimalist illustrations floating in white space. Gradually, what starts as a series of examples in the text becomes a fully populated fantasy world and then a narrative seems to take over, almost in spite of itself. This is witty as hell, subtly funny and silly while also not so subtly making some serious attempts at answering the question posed by the book's title. The structure, with its Charlie Kaufman-like corkscrews, is really cleverly done and yet despite the big ideas and the postmodern distance of the presentation, the book just breezes by, never overstaying its welcome or becoming ponderous. Davis' touch is really light. She intentionally strips down her artistic palette for much of the book, with a lot of quite minimal stretches, but the sections where she cuts loose are beautiful, with those familiar flowing lines and graceful, outrageously proportioned figures confronting a strangely ecstatic vision of the apocalypse. Good stuff, as always from her.

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Zot! by Scott McCloud
Before he became the guy who just understands comics really well - and then the guy who started to seem like he'd lost touch with comics a bit - this was McCloud's big indie breakthrough series, about a Shazam-like boy superhero from an alternate dimension who befriends Jenny, a girl from our Earth, and takes her on his wild adventures. The original 10-issue color run was an appropriately boyish superhero adventure, of a type that's pretty familiar by now but at the time (mid 80s) probably seemed very necessary: Zot, the perpetual optimist from a utopian alternate world, is an antidote to all the grim, scowling heroes populating the bigger superhero books of the era. It's fun, spirited sci-fi adventure, never too weighty and always infused with McCloud's old-before-his-time dad humor, packed with memorably wacky and inventively designed villains and plenty of great action set pieces. After a hiatus, the book returned in black and white and meandered a bit, seemingly unsure where to go next, before settling on a lengthy storyline in which Zot and Jenny are marooned on the "real" Earth, away from Zot's utopia, increasingly forced to leave fantasy behind and confront mundane existence. There's definitely a heavy-handedness to the book's morality by this point, and McCloud cycles through an array of important issues one issue at a time as though he's shooting episodes of a TV high school drama: homosexuality, race and crime, divorce, teen sex, alcoholism, and so on. Thankfully the characters - an expanding cast of friends - are compelling enough, and lovingly drawn in McCloud's clear, mangaish style, so it frequently transcends the hamfisted morality tales he's offering in his scripts. Zot himself doesn't fare as well, becoming an afterthought at best in his own book, increasingly seeming unnecessary to the stories McCloud wants to explore - many of the issues towards the end of the run focus on a single character other than Zot or Jenny and are all the more enjoyable for it. Ultimately a flawed but pretty interesting comic: I think it's fascinating how drastically the mood of the final arc changes from the rest of the book, with this overarching melancholy tone hanging over everything, this beautiful sadness that simultaneously laments the loss of fantasy but finds a very different kind of beauty in the "real." McCloud can sometimes seem like a well-intentioned clod here, stumbling through serious issues at a superficial level, but he also frequently finds these very real emotions and images at the core of his stories and it's worth checking out for those moments for sure.
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Postby Wombatz » Wed Mar 14, 2018 6:38 am

sevenarts wrote:Image
Why Art? by Eleanor Davis
Davis' new book starts as a deadpan, parodic art textbook, with short epigrams and questions accompanying minimalist illustrations floating in white space. Gradually, what starts as a series of examples in the text becomes a fully populated fantasy world and then a narrative seems to take over, almost in spite of itself. This is witty as hell, subtly funny and silly while also not so subtly making some serious attempts at answering the question posed by the book's title ...

ah, i'm very curious about, but also very afraid of this book :roll: (me being a small but fully entrenched cog in the art (book) world) ... that question in the title is already framed in a slightly suspicious way (why does there have to be a why?) ... anyway, as i was pondering which comics about art/the art world i enjoyed, i remembered Late Era Clash #25 by Mike Taylor, which is fun ... but at the end of the story, of course the evil market wins as always, so it's hardly subtle. there also was a ley lines zine by warren craghead ... i guess anna haifisch's artist ... though i'm not into those ... anything else recentish anyone can think of?

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Postby HotFingersClub » Wed Mar 14, 2018 9:15 am

Not to presume you've read or enjoyed them, but how about The Making Of by Brecht Evens or Brech Vandenbroucke's White Cube?
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Postby HotFingersClub » Wed Mar 14, 2018 9:16 am

Can't wait to read Why Art. Ordered it this morning along with that Sophia Foster-Dimino book
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Postby Wombatz » Thu Mar 15, 2018 3:48 am

HotFingersClub wrote:Not to presume you've read or enjoyed them, but how about The Making Of by Brecht Evens or Brech Vandenbroucke's White Cube?

these definitely count! (and thank you for not presuming i'd enjoy them). i also read this munch biocomic by steffen kverneland lately, which did nothing for me except the artist's physiognomy made my chin hurt just staring at it ... this 1:1 collapsing of art/artist or art/circumstances of its making is probably more problematic in comics even than in film (plus the difficulty that comics are also a form of visual art but a very different one). i suspect i'll get that davis book shortly :)

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