Alternative/independent comics thread

Health insurance rip off lying FDA big bankers buying
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Cloning while they're multiplying
Fashion shoots with Beck and Hanson
Courtney Love, and Marilyn Manson
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We'll kick your ass in

Postby sevenarts » Wed Jul 04, 2018 3:18 pm

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Clover Honey by Rich Tommaso
I got into Tommaso with his Image books so sometimes I forget how long he's been around, this is a graphic novel from 1995, recently re-released. Speaking of early works, this is definitely one. It reads like Clowes lite doing noir, pretty rough around the edges and the verbosity at times gets really out of hand - the narration in the second chapter is abysmal. Still, it has its pleasures, mainly Tommaso's very crisp, clean cartooning, which isn't as stylized and quirky here as it's come to be but is still quite nice. I also dig how unlikable pretty much all the characters are, especially the 2 parallel protagonists.

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Henchgirl by Kristen Gudsnuk
Originally a webcomic I think, then collected in single issues and a collection. One of a seemingly infinite supply of cute, charming alt/indie genre books out these days, but it's very well crafted and its charm is earned rather than cheap. It's about a slacker young woman who stumbles into a life of crime through sheer laziness more than evil, haphazardly assisting a criminal gang for lack of better job prospects. Pretty fun, low-key funny, and Gudsnuk's cartooning adds a lot to the appeal - her characters strike this interesting balance between cutesy innocence, sexy bad girl cartooning, and schlubby slice-of-life normality. It's a good mix and a lot of the book's vitality comes from how much fun her figures are to just look at and watch interacting, whether it's in the goofy fight scenes or just chatting about scary movies or food. It has moments of surprising deeper emotion but a lot of it drifts by amiably but a little too easily, and the story goes to some truly baffling places towards the end in ways that pretty much lost me. Still, good fun for most of its length.

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The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang
Real good new GN about a prince whose love of women's clothes causes him to lead a secretive second life with the help of an ambitious young dressmaker. The story's pointed message about inclusivity and acceptance is well done and a welcome presence in this likely YA-targeted book, but thankfully Wang achieves her polemical message through excellent character work and a lovingly crafted modern fairy tale so that it rarely gets too heavyhanded. Maybe doesn't fit too well with a lot of what we talk about in this thread but it's quite good and anyone who enjoys some of the smarter YA-focused comics coming out these days will do well checking this out for a fun read.

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Stuck Rubber Baby by Howard Cruse
Here's a classic graphic novel I never got around to for some reason, and it's a shame because it's definitely one of the ones that lives up to its rep. Cruse started out in underground comics and was on the vanguard of doing openly gay-themed comics in that scene for decades when he finally did this masterful novel that took him 4 years to craft and came out, of all places, through one of DC's ill-fated attempts at publishing non-superhero or non-genre fare. The underground style is very obvious in his drawing, which is incredibly detailed and realistic and yet also infused with rubbery cartooniness especially in his faces and the way his characters' often beefy bodies look and move. His craftsmanship is at an incredibly high level here, and it's placed in the service of an intricate, complex story, obviously mined from personal experiences and anecdotes but heavily fictionalized, about a closeted, self-denying gay guy in the South in the 60s, at the height of the counterculture and the civil rights movement. It's great stuff, tying together black rights and gay rights as interlinking scenes and movements, and doing so very organically through a story jam-packed with memorable, richly developed characters. Cruse's pages are always very dense and packed with detail but though a lot of artists with similar styles get pretty ponderous to read very quickly, Cruse's knack for characterization and storytelling ensure that this actually breezes along, it's very involving and enjoyable. It's often deeply and intensely political, even polemical, and the emotional intensity reaches similar peaks at times, but there's a lightness and gracefulness to the storytelling that prevents it from ever bogging down or becoming a chore to read.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Thu Jul 05, 2018 6:41 am

Yess Stuck Rubber Baby is a stone cold classic. Essential reading for anyone interested in comics and the counter-culture
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Postby murderhorn » Thu Jul 05, 2018 7:17 am

how were you involved with the Heygate demolition? (if you don't mind answering)
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Postby HotFingersClub » Thu Jul 05, 2018 4:24 pm

I work for one of the companies that carried out the demolition. I came on right at the end of our time there but I helped a bit with some of the community engagement stuff (site visits, local employment) and I was working last week with the Southwark Construction Skills Centre which is based there now
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Postby HotFingersClub » Mon Jul 09, 2018 5:31 am

PS Sevenarts I'm glad I'm not the only one who found the later parts of Henchgirl very strange story-wise. I couldn't work out why this simple, charming book was getting so confusing and I thought I was just falling asleep
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Postby HotFingersClub » Thu Jul 12, 2018 7:27 am

Lots of comics

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Julia Gfrörer – Laid Waste
Gfrörer’s even gloomier follow-up to Black is the Colour is set in a medieval village being wiped out by the plague. It’s very dark, very heavy, but also a quick read, with large close panels that look a bit like woodcuts and a bit like Tony Millionaire. She communicates a great deal of grime and decay with black scratches on white. Really good.

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Gipi – Land of the Sons
Pretty similar vibe to Laid Waste but I haven’t seen anyone talking about this. It’s a European post-apocalyptic story about two brothers who live on the edge of a poisoned lake, having never known society un-collapsed. The art is beautiful – scratchy but clear and atmospheric with a great sense of place. In the end, it’s a bit more of a straightforward adventure story than you might expect or wish for, but it’s persuasive while it lasts.

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Carol Tyler – Late Bloomer
Autobiographical comix spanning about 20 years starting in the late 80s, many of them about growing up in a bickering, working-class family. I gotta say I found it a little hard to pay full attention. There’s not a lot of continuity between the stories and Tyler doesn’t give you much in the way of orientation, with timeframes and characters slip-sliding all over the place. Or maybe it's just that her style is somehow more decentralised than people like Mary Fleener or Gabrielle Bell - it's difficult to know where she is in the story, or to build up a consistent picture of her life. She does some lovely work in the backgrounds, and you can really see her progressing as an artist (she’s an exceptional colourist) but the figurework remains somehow indistinct.

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Zak Sally – Like a Dog
This is a collection of the first two issues of Sally’s zine Recidivist plus some odds and ends. I generally like his stuff okay but his art style doesn’t do a huge amount for me. The narrative strips are the highlight. They don’t let you in too much, or over-explain – they just do their thing and get out of there. Around the edges though there are a lot of illustrated dreams and song lyrics which suit the zine format but are not ultimately very interesting.

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Aude Picault – Limited Edition
What’s the word for this kind of art style? That sort of simple-but-technical expressive cartooning that animators like to use? This is a good example of that. The story is a little French drama about a woman in her early thirties who’s looking for love and finds someone almost suitable but not quite. It’s kind of mature and sensible, maybe a little boring, but an engaging and I think mostly unpatronising look at being a single woman in your thirties. The most interesting angle is the protagonist’s job as a neonatal nurse and how that relates to the ticking of her biological clock, but then it's not quite used to its best advantage, focusing instead on the relationship-based, differences-between-genders stuff that feels a bit more worn out.

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Rosemary Valero-O’Connell – What is Left
A beautiful fluid philosophical scifi story about memory and death, with extraordinary art from someone I gots to admit I’ve never heard of before. Like sevenarts, I felt the mellifluous elegance of Tillie Walden's On a Sunbeam in the way she portrays fantastical spaces, but the specific conceit and the enormous technical skill of the art ended up reminding me more of Katsuhiro Otomo's Magnetic Rose. Very excited to see more from Valero-O’Connell.

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Molly Mendoza – The Worst
Also from Shortbox, but with a more dangerous, jagged feel, a story of neediness and betrayal and suffocating intimacy in a girls’ swimming team, cut through with blood red panels of gaping sharks and other interesting visual effects. Another super accomplished and exciting early work from someone who clearly has a lot of talent. My only complaint is that the characters all look the same (or at least don't have a consistent look) and most of the dialogue and narration is unattributed, so it gets pretty difficult to follow at points, although it doesn't detract too much.

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Emily Carroll – Beneath the Dead Oak Tree
The final of three Shortbox minis, by the most established creator, this is the best of a very strong bunch. Sevenarts covered this well in his review on the last page – it's a simple but heightened horror fairytale starring aristocratic fox people with dark secrets. It's a really welcome return to vibrant colour for Carroll, and the horrific bits are more gory than usual in a way that's really effective and visceral. She makes great use of the length this book affords her – a clear and commanding demonstration of her skill.
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Postby sevenarts » Sat Jul 14, 2018 2:04 pm

Good stuff. I love that Gfrorer book and the Shortbox minis. Guess I should grab that Molly Mendoza one too. I only knew Valero-O'Connell previously for the Lumberjanes issues she drew, which are obviously very different. Looks like What Is Left is her first major personal comic which is pretty amazing.

That Gipi book looks gorgeous.
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Postby sevenarts » Sat Jul 14, 2018 2:28 pm

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When the Wind Blows by Raymond Briggs
Been a very long time since I first read this and it maintains all its impact, just great, harrowing stuff. The juxtaposition between the gentle folksy humor of the presentation and the post-apocalyptic real-world horror of what's happening is really bracing in the best way. Sometimes it's so charmingly low-key funny that it's easy to forget just how horrific it all is. An amazing book, both a very specific, very savage parody of British propaganda from the 80s, and an universal fable for the unspeakable terrors of the nuclear age.

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Ethel and Ernest by Raymond Briggs
HFC mentioned this a bit back and yea, this is really affecting, again in a way that kind of sneaks up on you. Briggs' style is so incredibly charming and so well-suited to capturing the rhythms of everyday life in these brief, lovingly rendered little anecdotes. The book is dedicated to his parents, and documents their entire lives starting from their first random meeting, their courtship, marriage, and beyond. Years pass in pages, and yet each moment seems utterly precious, always infused with gentle humor, absurdity, and unashamed sentimentality. The art is gorgeous, particularly the vivid, impossibly rich painted colors, and Briggs makes these characters come alive so that by the end I feel like I've spent a whole life with them. Briggs renders even tragedy with the most graceful of touches, which only seems to make the sad moments even more unbearable. Really beautiful work.

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My Brother's Husband by Gengoroh Tagame
Really fascinating manga about a single dad whose life is disrupted when his dead gay brother's Canadian husband shows up for a visit. This reminds me I should read way more manga, because it's both a really good read and utterly unlike anything I've seen in Western comics. The unique mix of understated humor, melodrama, and sociopolitical commentary makes it often a deliberately discomfiting read, in ways that seem to deliberately poke at the issues and prejudices the story is dealing with. Lots of probing at ideas about xenophobia, closemindedness, and homophobia, in many ways seemingly specific to Japanese culture and Japanese hangups about gayness and foreignness, but also often all too recognizable from a Western perspective too. The art is generally charming and well-done, and Tagame's beefy male figures are often subject to an openly homoerotic male gaze, which seems like another way of forcing any hesitant readers to confront the sexuality at the core of the book.

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Ulcera by Puiupo & Adonis Pantazopoulos
A short collaboration between 2 Brazilian cartoonists, one of their only works in English. The art is really cool - if I have the separation right, Puiupo draws the first half in a sketchy manga-influenced style, while Pantazopoulos draws the second half in a more stylized, spiky style that reminds me a bit of Malachi Ward. I'll be damned if I can make a lick of sense out of the sci-fi story or the characters though.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Mon Jul 16, 2018 2:19 pm

Aces. Great to see you taking a close look at Raymond Briggs - he's such a lowkey institution here (less for the books and more for The Snowman and Father Christmas) that it's very rare to see him approached critically or be repped by anyone outside the UK. The man's a legend though.

It's an odd book to say this about because it's not exactly gripping but I find myself regularly craving further installments of My Brother's Husband. The roly-poly characters gradually overcoming their prejudices in a calm and thoughtful way is essential for my soul's survival on this gay earth. Is this the feeling that humans call "balm?"
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Postby sevenarts » Tue Jul 17, 2018 7:56 am

My Brother's Husband is definitely balm even though it's also kinda confrontational. Maybe it ultimately being such a reassuring vision is an odd fit with the state of the world but I don't care.
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Postby sevenarts » Sat Jul 21, 2018 5:42 pm

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Poochytown by Jim Woodring
Great new GN starring Woodring's Frank. In preparation I read all Woodring's older series - the 2 volumes of Jim, Tantalizing Stories, and the Frank series. I had the collected editions but had never read this stuff in this form before, it's an interesting experience. The old Jim stories are so nakedly psychological, so nakedly derived from dreams and psychoanalysis, that it's really interesting to see Woodring being so comparatively direct about the underlying ideas behind his work, the musings on morality and mental landscapes are so much more overt than they are in the Frank stories. I think this material is kind of inherently less satisfying, in part because it's so obviously just dream logic while the Frank stories move with their own inscrutable logic that's dreamlike in some ways but in other ways creates a whole alternative world every bit as real as a physical one. It's interesting too to see Frank taking over - there's less and less Jim material in the later comics. The Tantalizing Stories stretch is where the transition really starts to happen pretty heavily, and the other notable thing there is that Woodring's Frank shares the book with Mark Martin's Montgomery Wart, a very different kind of anthropomorphic creation. Martin's forced humor and annoying writing of Southern accents only further accentuates how distinct Woodring's work was (and is) from other comics, even ones ostensibly from the same scene.

Anyway, Poochytown itself is fantastic, it's another densely packed Frank morality tale, this one about an unlikely companionship between Frank and Manhog that results in some great odd couple buddy comedy. Woodring's art is phenomenal, it just keeps getting better and better, and there are some pretty mind-warping spreads here with amazing otherworldly imagery. I've always thought the cowardly, alternately pathetic and evil Manhog is one of Woodring's great creations - such a perfect encapsulation of craven humanity at its worst - so the prolonged focus on him here is great, and I'm especially happy that I re-read stories like "Gentlemanhog" (shout out to HFC) before reading this. A new Woodring Frank novel is always a pleasure and though all of these have been great since he started doing these standalone GNs every couple of years, this one seems especially on-point.

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The Puritan's Wife by Liam Cobb
Like Slow Drift, his minimalist Western, this is more of a straightahead narrative period piece compared to his usual formalist, semi-abstract works. The narrative is pretty classical, even simple, but I still dig its grim directness. Very stark and gloomy tale of a deadly illness striking a puritan commune, leading the commune's increasingly deranged leader to seek a scapegoat. Cobb sets the atmosphere beautifully, creating a claustrophobic mood of dread that helps to sell the story's predictable moves - even knowing from the start basically where it's all heading, the dismal beauty of Cobb's drawings make this compelling. He draws faces with restraint and understatement, eliding features and letting the smallest number of lines convey the emotions roiling beneath the story's surface. Good, dark, harrowing stuff.

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The Leopard by Sarah Horrocks
Like her ongoing series Goro (which I love as well) this is a frequently inscrutable genre piece about mostly unlikeable people crashing into each other in unpredictable ways while dark plots percolate in the background. This seems to be the first volume of a grisly haunted house horror piece, with a squabbling extended family gathering at a desolate house awaiting the death of the family matriarch, fighting and fucking and maybe killing each other as they wait to see who will inherit what. Nasty, bizarre, and frequently absolutely stunning in its layouts, use of color, and outrageous gory over-the-topness. I really admire Horrocks' unconcern with such niceties as reader handholding - both here and in Goro, she throws you in at the deep end with long histories and complex relationships implied in the pattering dialogue, and lets the contours of the plot hide within the vicious scrawls and garish colors of her pages.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Mon Jul 23, 2018 7:22 am

Awesome - didn't know there was a new Woodring coming out. I appreciate the overview of the series as well - I've read all his stuff in a totally random order, and it's interesting to see the arcs of development drawn out like that. He's a really singular talent. I love that story in the introduction of The Frank Book where he sends a drawing of Frank just on his own to another cartoonist saying "What do you think of this? I think it's very interesting," and the other guy's just like ??? this has no meaning

Sarah Horrocks looks really interesting but I've never seen her stuff online or in UK shops so I keep forgetting that I'm supposed to read it
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Postby Wombatz » Mon Jul 23, 2018 6:19 pm

she sells the leopard as a pdf, but i can't recommend that ... looks really dodgy, more like a cheap bootleg, with page formats not quite matching and a bit fuzzy all over ... i just kept thinking how good this would look as a proper book and ended up not really reading it (and not buying the garo pdfs).

(some great posts here while i was on holiday!)
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Postby Conetoaster » Tue Jul 24, 2018 5:35 am

New shortbox is up for pre-order. Looks quite good, has anyone read anything by the authors? is it worth picking up?
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Postby Kenny » Tue Jul 24, 2018 5:50 am

What's your ways of discovering these alt comics? Mostly knowing them from other stuff, or just rolling the dice?

I have a real pull for wanting to buy these and feeling cheap if I discover I don't like them/have more stuff in my place
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Postby HotFingersClub » Tue Jul 24, 2018 6:05 am

Conetoaster wrote:New shortbox is up for pre-order. Looks quite good, has anyone read anything by the authors? is it worth picking up?


Sophia Foster-Dimino has been talked about a lot in this thread recently with unanimous praise (between me and Sevenarts anyway). Not familiar with any of the others but I trust Zainab’s judgement (even though she was quite rude in person lol). I’ll definitely pick it up, especially after the great Mendoza, Carroll and Valero-O’Connell books that were reviewed on this page.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Tue Jul 24, 2018 6:18 am

Kenny wrote:What's your ways of discovering these alt comics? Mostly knowing them from other stuff, or just rolling the dice?

I have a real pull for wanting to buy these and feeling cheap if I discover I don't like them/have more stuff in my place


Hell I guess I get a lot of my recommendations from this thread. Have a read and you’ll find that we frequently review comics and post pages.

Or you could just wander into Gosh or Orbital and flick through the books until you find something you like. It’s usually pretty easy to tell what you’re into and whether you think it’s worth the cost.

I often start with checking out pirated scans at random and then if someone seems good I’ll pay to check out their next project. That’s the way it worked for me with Josh Simmons, Michael DeForge, Lisa Hanawalt and a whole bunch of others.

I can’t wait for Lisa Hanawalt to release new stuff.
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Postby Kenny » Tue Jul 24, 2018 6:31 am

I used to go to Orbital all the time but they got mad at me for not picking up my pulls once and I got all scared to go in

That one room with the more "arty" comics is a lot of fun
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Postby HotFingersClub » Tue Jul 24, 2018 6:39 am

That's the room I'm talkin about man! Foyles has a surprisingly good selection too and they would never dream of telling you off. That area is the golden triangle of comix
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Postby HotFingersClub » Tue Jul 24, 2018 6:40 am

Comics are definitely expensive and not good value for the most part. You gotta be careful
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Postby Kenny » Tue Jul 24, 2018 6:44 am

I really love Comixology for allowing me to buy things that don't take physical space :-S

But it excludes a lot of really interesting stuff like the stuff itt.
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Postby sevenarts » Tue Jul 24, 2018 7:56 am

HotFingersClub wrote:
Conetoaster wrote:New shortbox is up for pre-order. Looks quite good, has anyone read anything by the authors? is it worth picking up?


Sophia Foster-Dimino has been talked about a lot in this thread recently with unanimous praise (between me and Sevenarts anyway). Not familiar with any of the others but I trust Zainab’s judgement (even though she was quite rude in person lol). I’ll definitely pick it up, especially after the great Mendoza, Carroll and Valero-O’Connell books that were reviewed on this page.


Yup Foster-Dimino is the only one I know but that's enough for me to pick it up, the other books look neat too. Will have to grab that Mendoza now too.
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Postby sevenarts » Tue Jul 24, 2018 7:57 am

Hanawalt has a graphic novel out next month from D&Q if you don't know, HFC.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Tue Jul 24, 2018 9:01 am

Yeah I saw that. Well excited mate. I'm interested to see what she does with an actual narrative but I think I'm going to miss the one page jokes and movie reviews ah well
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Postby HotFingersClub » Thu Jul 26, 2018 7:34 am

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Jerome Charyn & Francois Boucq – Little Tulip
This tells a bonkers story about a criminal sketch artist in Brooklyn with a secret past life as tattoo artist and gang member in a Siberian gulag, with a narrative that jumps back and forth between his boyhood in the gulag and his present-day hunt for a serial killer called Bad Santa. It's alright – if you've ever read Jodorowsky you know pretty much what to expect, in that no one behaves like a human and every plot development is so absurdly melodramatic that the whole thing washes over you in a grand guignol of operatic blood and gross sex. Boucq's art is incredibly accomplished but also grotesque, especially when he's momentarily called upon to draw black people.

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Jon Chandler – John's Worth
Eh, it wasn't for me. I'm down for a Cronenbergian parasite sex fest and I'm kind of intrigued by the story, but this type of art does nothing for me. I will say it's more interesting than Benjamin Marra, whose work it reminded me of.
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Postby sevenarts » Sat Jul 28, 2018 11:35 pm

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All the Answers by Michael Kupperman
A really interesting 180-degree turn from a cartoonist previously known solely for very impersonal, screwball humor strips, mainly in his series Tales Designed To Thrizzle. This is a very personal, autobiographical book, focusing on Kupperman's troubled, distant relationship with his father, an ethics professor, prolific author, and most famously a child radio and TV star as one of the Quiz Kids in the '40s. Joel Kupperman was a famed child math whiz who briefly enthralled the nation with his mental feats, though the experience - which he was pushed into by a domineering stage mother - left him traumatized and maladjusted, seemingly for the entire rest of his life. This is a fascinating read, as Kupperman excavates the hidden details of his father's early life, about which Joel never spoke, and tries to understand a father who always seemed like an unfathomable mystery. The poignancy of the narrative is increased even more since Joel is descending into senility, and in his forgetfulness finally opens up to his son, albeit in a fragmentary way, but far more than he ever had previously. It's really excellent, multi-layered storytelling, dealing with fatherhood, self-identity, Joel's role as wartime propaganda, and the ways in which formative experiences can shape the entirety of a life. Kupperman uses the same deadpan, stiff, basically inexpressive style he's always used for strips about Mark Twain or talking bacon, but it fits surprisingly well for this story about emotional inaccessibility and confused men unsure of how to express what's inside them or connect with those around them in meaningful ways.

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Otherworld Barbara by Moto Hagio
800+ pages of some of the looniest, loopiest sci-fi I've ever read. A young girl witnesses her parents' murder-suicide, eats their hearts, and goes into a coma, where she dreams up an entire other world populated with a loving community of immortal family and friends - a community isolated from a scary futuristic world in which there's been a war against the Martians and the government uses the blood of the immortals to extend the lives of their own people. Meanwhile, the attempts of a "dream pilot" to enter this dream world and awaken the comatose girl trigger all sorts of wild machinations both in her head and in the physical world, and it increasingly becomes less and less clear just what's a dream and what's real. This is bonkers, and so great. It's just a constant fount of off-the-wall ideas, and its plot keeps twisting in weird new directions, perhaps a little bit at the expense of clarity - I quickly lost track of all the clones, and one major character has at least 4 different names and identities - but the page-turning, what-the-hell-will-happen-next quality of the storytelling makes it endlessly compelling. Hagio's art is gorgeous, too, at times sweepingly romantic and pristinely beautiful, at other times tinged with horror and menace, as the story careens between those poles and many others.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Mon Jul 30, 2018 5:35 am

Woah sick, I've never even heard of Otherworld Barbara. Is it online? I guess I'll buy it anyway because it sounds extremely my shit

I'm excited for All the Answers but it's already annoying to me how he seems to be getting much more critical attention for this than for Tales Designed to Thrizzle. Absurdity is important guys
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Postby sevenarts » Mon Jul 30, 2018 6:06 am

I've never seen Barbara online but I've also never really known where to find manga scans online, I assume there's at least scanlations of it floating around but probably not scans of the new Fantagraphics editions.

Even the jacket for the Kupperman book says, apparently without irony, that "this is his first serious book" and I had to roll my eyes at that. I hate the way these "crossover" books from big publishers are positioned and marketed in relation to the rest of comics. None of that is Kupperman's fault though and the book itself is good.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Wed Aug 01, 2018 11:54 am

Some real classic minor scans stuff this week:

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Miss Lasko-Gross – A Mess of Everything
More autobio comix from Lasko-Gross, Escape from “Special” covered the childhood years and this is the teenage stuff. The art seems to be getting a little more accomplished and refined although it’s still a thick, heavy line. It has a weirdly gloomy look, which is not exactly reflected in the tone of the writing, but I think it avoids oppressiveness, just about, through storytelling that’s economical and spacious. I found this a little more interesting than the last volume – there’s nothing unfamiliar about the tales of being alternative in high school, but I did appreciate the lengthy subplot where she deals with her friend’s concealed eating disorder. It was good to see that examined at such length.

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Gilbert Hernandez – Love From the Shadows
This has the most complicated blurb of any book I’ve ever seen, where it tries to situate the book in Gilbert’s chronology. Basically it follows on from Chance in Hell and The Troublemakers and is another adaptation of an imaginary b-movie starring the Fritz character, so a confusing framing sequence is followed by an essentially unrelated story in which a woman’s father dies in a cave, and her brother gets a sex change to try and claim her inheritance. It’s a bit unclear what Gilbert is trying to achieve here, in that it all hangs together just about but also goes in so many directions that it seems like narrative noodling.

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Carole Maurel – Luisa: Now and Then
You know, it’s one of those light time travel stories where an adult meets their past self and learning ensues. It’s YA-orientated, and Mariko Tamaki was involved in some nebulous way. The art’s quite nice but I couldn’t stick with it. Despite the conceit being clear immediately, it takes well over a hundred pages before anyone’s prepared to accept what’s happened and get on with the story. I’m too jaded for that kind of time wasting.

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Akihito Tsukushi – Made in Abyss v1
Apparently people really like the anime that this got turned into. It seems like a cool idea! Maybe more so for a videogame. Basically it’s a fantasy set around a massive mysterious pit full of monsters, treasure and secrets, and a girl and a robot descend to the hidden depths in search of the girl’s mother. Cool, I’m in. Again, it takes a long time to get to the point, with pages that are very dense without communicating much of importance. By the end of this volume, our heroes are only just beginning their quest after what seems like an awful lot of busywork. The art is more of a problem – it’s not bad exactly but it does seem aggressively unsuitable. Tsukushi fills the panels with his little chibi kid characters which to my mind are dumb looking at best, and become grotesque on the occasions when he decides to indulge in a little nudity, rope bondage, omorashi etc :/ It’s not frequent, and it’s not too egregious relative to some manga, but also Fuck That Shit. Then the abyss itself, which is definitely the most interesting part, is hazy and sketchy and squeezed out of the frame by Tsukushi’s compositions. Both of those are problems that would almost be automatically fixed in the transition to anime, so I can see why it’s been doing well.

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Jerry Kramsky & Lorenzo Mattotti – Garlandia
Probably the most interesting book I read this week, this is a long and strange fable about a race of humanoids on a fantastical island, following one of them as he tries to reunite with his newborn and save his people. The art is definitely the main draw here; having only ever seen Mattotti’s rigid futurist style in books like Fires, I was amazed to see him segue into this light, fluid world of graceful curves, equal parts Gorey, Seuss and classic Disney. You’d never guess it was the same guy who did Fires, while at the same time it’s absolutely consistent. Besides the art, it’s light, charming, sometimes scary, heavily allegorical for something or other. I liked it.

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Jean Dufaux & Griffo – Mister Noir
Kind of interminable story about a young girl arriving at a sprawling castle full of misfits and oddballs locked in a power struggle to become king of the tenants by the time the magical landlord makes his next visit. More sexualisation of children in this, and the art is accomplished but kind of unpleasant. You can safely skip it.

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Salva Rubio & Efa – Monet: Itinerant of Light
Nice cartooning and colours from Efa, illustrating a very straightforward and pretty dull biography of Monet in a style reminiscent of Ramon Perez. The page above is from the framing sequence, which is the only scene that plays out dramatically. The rest is just Monet speaking in voiceover as the creators desperately try to hit all the biographical beats in 100 pages. I have no idea if it’s true to life, but Monet as written here is a real grump, most of the book is just him calling people cretins if they don’t like his art.
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Postby sevenarts » Wed Aug 01, 2018 12:54 pm

I'm in the middle of Garlandia as well and really enjoying it. I've been trying to go slow and just savor the art because wow, it's jaw dropping. Very similar to Mattotti's work on his Ignatz line oneshot Chimera, which I'm sure I've talked up multiple times before. As much as I like his color work this is definitely my favorite mode of his and I'm so psyched there's this huge gorgeous book of it now.
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