Alternative/independent comics thread

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

Postby HotFingersClub » Thu Sep 20, 2018 7:54 am

I forgot the most important one from last week:

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Ben Hutchings – You Stink & I Don't
This is “Australia's longest running underground humour comic – Hutchings has been doing putting it out since the early nineties without apparently making much of a dent on the international comix scene, but it seriously deserves a bigger audience. There are a few recurring segments and autobiographical bits across these issues, but for the most part it's just a continuous stream of new ideas and fresh jokes, with a better hit rate than just about any other humour comic I can think of aside from Kupperman and some of the golden era of webcomics (Onstad, K.C. Green, A Lesson is Learned). YS&ID is a fair bit more earthy and straightforward than any of those, but damn it made me laugh aloud a lot. Hutchings has that K.C. Green gift for non sequitur, and for drawing faces that function as a punchline in their own right.

I read volume 2, which collects six issues, and you can see his sense of humour quickly becoming more finely tuned and easing off on the antagonistic needling that characterises so many American underground comedy comix, and which pops up a bit in the first half of this volume. It also represents some of the best value I've ever got out of a comic book. Reproduced in black and white and slightly too small, it has a real zine-ish quality, with random ideas, jokes, drawings and snippets of text crowding out almost every page. It took almost as long to read as a prose novel. A lot of care and attention has gone into this, and the results really show on the page.

If you're looking for a more casual introduction to his style, it's probably worth checking out his one shot from a couple of years ago, Iron Bard Ballisto
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Postby sevenarts » Thu Sep 20, 2018 7:56 am

Oh yeah and Revenger stinks. I gave up before that volume but I never got why Foreman was so bad in that while still putting out good work elsewhere.

I always saw it as him trying to copy the success and appeal of Copra and not realizing that he’s not made for that.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Thu Sep 20, 2018 8:15 am

sevenarts wrote:Good stuff as always, guys. I think Cayro used to go by the pseudonym "Bald Eagles" and appeared in an early Kramers issue. I remember that crew hyping him up and I thought he was really boring despite being an obvious technical genius.


Yeah Cayro and Bald Eagles are the same person. I don't know if it's just a coincidence but I feel like I've been talking about a lot of those jagged misogynistic misanthropic "offensive" comics recently (maybe just these Re:surgo minis I've been working through) and they seem to be the part of the artistic landscape that's getting dated most quickly, being replaced by a new wave of more intelligent female creators like Eleanor Davis and Sophia Foster-Dimino. I can't help but wonder who used to enjoy these puerile rage-filled comics so much that we needed so many of them.

I have a sort of coalescing theory about English prose fiction tending towards a shy, retiring, pallid sort of personality, because those are the sorts of people drawn towards prose writing as a pastime. I wonder if something similar could be said about indie comix - some stereotype of angry and alienated little boys scribbling away at the back of the class. Maybe it's just the tastes of people like Gary Groth echoing down the decades.

TW: the preceding text contained aimless generalisations
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Postby HotFingersClub » Thu Sep 20, 2018 8:20 am

sevenarts wrote:Oh yeah and Revenger stinks. I gave up before that volume but I never got why Foreman was so bad in that while still putting out good work elsewhere.

I always saw it as him trying to copy the success and appeal of Copra and not realizing that he’s not made for that.


Probably true. The second volume especially has a real Suicide Squad vibe but it's depressing and bad
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Postby sevenarts » Sun Sep 23, 2018 4:19 pm

Finally have some new stuff to contribute here.

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Flayed Corpse and Other Stories by Josh Simmons & various
HFC summed this one up nicely. It's another collection of short pieces by Simmons, in the vein of The Furry Trap, but with more of an emphasis on collaborations this time around. As HFC also said, it hardly matters because everyone bends themselves so thoroughly to Simmons' aesthetic that it feels more cohesive and coherent than a lot of true single-creator anthologies. This is pretty great. I wasn't quite as bowled over by most of it as I was by The Furry Trap, maybe because I was familiar with more of this material in advance (a big chunk of it is all the stuff that was in his Oily minis, one of which provides the name for the collection) or maybe just because it's not quite as fresh and therefore startling as the best stuff in the last anthology was - but still, any quibbles aside this is top-notch stuff, disturbing and unsettling in genuine ways. What I like best about Simmons' work, especially in the stories collected here, is the way his deadpan delivery of horror tropes creates this uncertainty about whether he's fulfilling a genre trope or deconstructing it. There's this weird tension in a lot of his work where it seems like he's delivering a straightforward dose of horror, where some particular atrocity seems inevitable, then maybe seems like he's working against expectations and heading elsewhere, so then when he ultimately delivers the horror you were expecting in the first place after all, it somehow winds up being a shock all over again. The story that does this best here IMO is the one about a wandering young man who winds up in a small town where things seem too good to be true - and are. The horror is exactly what it seems to be from the moment the story starts, and yet the effect is chilling, and unsettling, and unforgettable because of how patiently Simmons doles out the beats. Great, creepy book.

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Berserk Vol. 39 by Kentaro Miura
I was pretty obsessed with Berserk a couple years ago and read through the entire run, was absolutely blown away by how intense and wild and horribly beautiful it is. The later volumes slow down a bit and get bogged down in dumb comedy at times, for sure, but maybe because I read it in such a condensed period I still enjoyed it right up till the end. I tried continuing along with the serialized, not-collected-yet chapters online for a bit but the dodgy translations and scans kept me from following along for long. Now here's the latest volume collecting the latest big chunk of this seemingly never-ending epic. The first half of this is not exactly Berserk at its best - some cool lore and amazing imagery (gorgeous double-page spreads galore) as Guts' crew finally arrives at Elf Island, which has been their destination for probably a dozen volumes to date, but the goofy, cutesy chibi comedy takes over way too much here. Thankfully the second half is really cool, featuring a few of Guts' band traveling into the hellish nightmare landscape that is Casca's traumatized mind, trying to piece together her consciousness and root out the long-ago source of her trauma. Things get real bleak and dark, both thematically and in the way Miura's art - now slicker than it used to be with seemingly a lot of digital elements but still quite good - gets really black and gloomy. Far from the best Berserk volume - the later in the saga things go, the more I tend to prefer the chapters dealing with Griffith and/or Rickert rather than Guts and his companions - but still some real good stuff here and actually points the way towards a potentially huge change in the story.

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Mitchum by Blutch
Here I go horning in on Wombatz's territory of writing about things that haven't been translated to English yet. We've talked a bunch about Blutch before and how unfortunate it is that Peplum is seemingly his one masterpiece and nothing else he's done comes close. Well this is... also not quite as good as Peplum but definitely the first other thing I've read from him that seems like it's in the same territory. This was an earlier work from him, predating Peplum, and was one of the first books that brought him some acclaim in the US, at least among underground cartoonists, as untranslated copies were ported over in quantities sufficient to provide a lot of inspiration for the American artists who got ahold of it. And it works so well despite the lack of an official English edition because much of it is silent or near-silent - out of the 5 albums in the collection, only the second one is relatively dialogue-heavy, while the rest mostly move along pretty much without words. This is Blutch again mining American culture from afar, an obvious topic of fascination for him - American movies, American genres, American celebrities. Noir, the Old West, Puritans and Indians, blaxpoitation flicks, road movies. There are hints of stories here, little vignettes that often seem to move with a dreamlike free association the effect of which is enhanced by the lack of dialogue, but mostly this is Blutch at his most abstract and experimental. And goddamn it is beautiful. Anyone who's read Peplum knows what a delight it is to watch Blutch animate his characters - he has such an amazing sense of motion and action, such a knack for communicating through postures and shadings, and here he's working almost entirely in that visual language. The stories are mostly disconnected, characters occasionally recur but there's little throughline, just a sense of nightmare logic running through the whole book, suggesting that it's all the outpouring of a mind steeped in American genre cinema, regurgitating all these tropes and faces - including Robert Mitchum himself, who memorably winds his way all through the 3rd volume, which plays out like a twisted, absurdist nightmare noir and is probably the best, richest material here. The 4th volume, in which a mish-mash of Western and noir action scenes play out in a grid that's mostly obscured by a woman dancing in the foreground, overlaid on the grid, is also dazzling and visually experimental in really exciting ways. There are more than a few hints of the problems Blutch displays elsewhere - a sense of exoticism regarding race and a nasty attitude towards women, both also informed by consuming too many Western movies - but as a whole this is stellar work, by far the best thing I've read by Blutch besides Peplum. It's moody, gorgeous, darkly comic, frequently absurd (the 5th volume is mostly a scribbled, Herriman-esque nightmare about a bear terrified of chickens), and utterly unique. Amazing to me that with all the mediocre Blutch comics that have made it over here, this one somehow never has, but thankfully enough of it is completely legible without any French knowledge to make it worth reading already.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Mon Sep 24, 2018 6:49 am

Hit the nail on the head there about Simmons either fulfilling or deconstructing genre tropes – the uncertainty in that regard is what makes it so unsettling and more satisfying as a horror experience than if he was reliably doing one or the other. The length and rhythm of the stories is also really important for disruption – you never know at what point the shock will come (or if it comes at all) and whether the story will be able to continue afterwards. In that way, it’s the opposite approach from say Junji Ito, where every story is exactly the same length and has the scare on the same page.

Excited for new Berserk. For me it's only Berserk, One Punch Man and Yotsuba that can keep me hanging on for new updates over the course of these decades that manga series take to resolve themselves.

Might be a bit burned out on Blutch for the minute but I'll keep an eye out for Mitchum. It sounds pretty promising
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Postby HotFingersClub » Mon Sep 24, 2018 7:03 am

I went to my first proper comic convention this weekend with cosplayers and everything – Thought Bubble in Leeds. I was in the area anyway so it was convenient, but I also definitely had a preconception that Thought Bubble is the best convention in the UK. Where did that idea come from? If I had to guess I’d say probably from Al Kennedy on House to Astonish. Seemed like it was very much his scene. Pretty basic, u know. Big queer vibe which was cool, but very little actual interesting comics – I mostly saw a shitload of cuddly Steven Universe knock-offs, and a whole lot of those awful Sherlock Holmes vs Vampires style books with terrible art. Quality control was very low on the agenda.

So mainly it was a disappointment, especially for £18 a ticket. ELCAF was £5 and roughly twenty times better. HOWEVER I did have some quick chats with John Allison, Al Ewing and a rather lonely looking Sarah Horrocks, who was pretty much the only artist in the con doing anything with real bite.

Edit: and a sick ass vegan donor served over hash brown bites. Unorthodox choice but I'm v much in favour
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Postby sevenarts » Mon Sep 24, 2018 11:03 pm

Sounds pretty dismal. I hope you told Ewing how much Immortal Hulk kicks ass.
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Postby Wombatz » Tue Sep 25, 2018 6:05 am

so hey, a dissenting opinion: i found flayed corpse often frustating ... totally agree with everything sevenarts says about the genre meta, it just don't grab me though ... that story abouth the stranded youth is marvelously set up, his passive but potentially pleasant character (if only he could connect) nicely drawn, the grossness of the host's internal workings pleasantly awkward, and in the end there's just an elegant letdown which reduces everything to the question: will there be a kill and did i predict it correctly. who cares, this could have been a great story ... and even in meta state, post 80s underground toilet humor to me remains post 80s underground toilet humor, though simmons cleverly manages to have his shit and eat it too. anyway, i'm the guy who thinks jessica farm is his best work (no punchlines or cop-outs!), so i dare say i'm wrong.

and an assenting opinion:
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conditioner by liam cobb is every bit as good as hfc says. the short intro reads like something from decadence comics and is setting up the mood nicely for the cracks in the reality fabric of the main story set around a condemned housing block ... this looks even better in real life than on-screen, with a nice surface fuzz and beautifully subtle misregistrations ... there are some wild shifts that all make sense if you change perspective as a reader ... really great, both more formally interesting (the straight lines of the architecture vs. the softness of textures) and more involved storywise than the puritan's wife ... only then (again like hfc said but he was much too nice about it), like some aftershock there's a completely banal story trying to elevate a girl's goldfish into some mythical being ... without it, this zine would have been such a strong statement (reminds me of the wylesol and its throwaway 3rd story some time ago, only even more of a pity) ... so dunno whether to expect much from cobb's reworking of the frog prince that's out about now, the premise sounds a bit fishy ...
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Postby HotFingersClub » Tue Sep 25, 2018 7:39 am

You're definitely not wrong for liking Jessica Farm, man! It seems like that’s his one book that has no real structure, deconstructed or otherwise. For all the ways in which he subverts expectations in his short pieces, there’s still that setup/punchline structure every time, where Jessica Farm flows a bit more jazzily. I remember you saying you didn’t connect with Junji Ito as well, maybe for similar reasons?

Really glad you enjoyed Conditioner. What was that goldfish thing about? I think I’m still fighting auteur theory training that makes it difficult to alternately praise and condemn different aspects or sections of an apparently cohesive piece, always assuming there must be some larger point being conveyed that I’m not getting, but the goldfish story was a very weird choice.
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Postby Wombatz » Thu Sep 27, 2018 4:13 am

pretty floored by this one:

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Dios ha muerto ( = God is dead) by Irkus M. Zeberio, which supposedly gives you the visions that led nietzsche to write his zarathustra. just because i bring you the stuff that has not been translated yet, this has quotes from the original text in spanish and french between stretches of silent comics (i don't really understand those languages but luckily we germans know our nietzsche by heart). on first view the art seems to be of the deskilled to the verge of abstraction kind, yet once you're into the book, you more and more start to notice how accomplished the lines, movements, and details are, interrupted by floating red shapes and black shades and some foggish computer modeling that's rather spooky. connection to the text is loose and sometimes contradictory, zarathustra/jesus/comics artist who believes you gotta battle your way kung-fu style out of a plot all blended into each other, yet for all the fun it gains considerable weight, which is very welcome when usually that style of comics seems more influenced by video games (see e.g. the corbera mentioned upstream). here's some more pages (i just notice, these are a bit misleading, on the whole, especially with the text pages interspersed, the book is a more roomy affair):

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then, by the same artist, Cramond Island.

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this came out on nowbrow, and stylistically it's kind of a compromise between Zeberio's own aesthetic and their house style (which i kind of enjoy, especially thumbing thru one of their beautiful anthologies (and i'm not at all into anthologies usually), but i'm not sure if i ever was smitten by any solo book in their program). so altogether a more harmless affair, but still very good, and there are always more serious themes lurking behind the fun ("there's nothing they fear more than poetry for the masses!"). i will definitely need more from this artist.

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also, just now, in memoriam (i still have a couple of unread issues from my recent binge):

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Postby HotFingersClub » Thu Sep 27, 2018 9:22 am

Wow that Nietzsche book looks v cool. Thanks for posting :D
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Postby HotFingersClub » Thu Sep 27, 2018 10:57 am

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Michael DeForge – Brat
Another new full-length GN from DeForge, still apparently indefatigable after almost a decade as one of the best, most consistent and most prolific cartoonists working today. This one is about Ms. D, a world-famous professional juvenile delinquent, now struggling with her art and the expectations of her fans as she heads into her mid-thirties. As always with DeForge, it's beautiful, smart, fun and inventive, although there are a few things that keep it from transcendence. Maybe just in comparison to his other stuff, it feels slightly more dramatically and creatively inert, without as much of the visual experimentation as he usually brings to his projects, and with a lot of the action delivered via extended monologue to camera. It pretty much works for a story in which the protagonist is examining herself under a documentarian's lens but... But nothing, I guess. It pretty much works.

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Eric Haven – Compulsive Comics
Wombatz explained this really well a few pages back and I don't have much to add except it's exactly my jam and I enjoyed it very much. These are short, mostly meaningless riffs on pulp and superhero tropes, in a thick line monochrome art style that reminded of early DC comics and Dick Tracy newspaper strips. The stories meander deadpan and aimless and provide some good absurdist lols. The older material is out of place and not very good, but it barely slows down the reading experience.

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Lauren R. Weinstein – Frontier 17: Mother's Walk
Latest entry in the Frontier series, and I feel like I'm getting my money's worth here. In 35 pages, Weinstein takes us through the birth of her second child, apparently starting work on the book almost immediately after giving birth, with “the amnesia already starting to settle in.” There are no quick cuts or lapses of time in this book – Weinstein is laying bare the process and particularly the pain, with the scribbles of pencil and blotches of colour responding viscerally to each contraction and the haze of the epidural. It's a story that seems to lay a foundational stone for a whole world of fascinating stories about motherhood.

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Liz Suburbia – Sacred Heart
In a week of great comics, I think this was the best of all. It's a hefty 300 page drama populated entirely by high-school age punks. Everyone listens to hardcore, has sick hair and lives in squalor. Their lives of partying, lo-fi music shows and copping off with each other are only occasionally interrupted by unexplained murders. In all the particulars, it's very very similar to Sophie Campbell's Wet Moon, which I also love, although Sacred Heart tells a complete and satisfying story in a way that Campbell hasn't quite pulled off yet. Suburbia provides a large and engaging cast, and throws in complications like a real pro. It's amazing how patiently and seamlessly she introduces new information that completely changes your reading of the story from essentially a Scott Pilgrim style comedy drama to something utterly different – a process that doesn't end until the final image.

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Fabien Vehlmann & Kerascoet – Satania
Finally this week, a simple pleasure. A group of cave divers get trapped in a flood while looking for a missing teammate, and end up discovering a hidden underground continent that's half Garlandia and half The Dying and the Dead. Pretty cool! Vehlmann tells an efficient and compelling adventure story, and leaves lots of space for Kerascoet to cut loose and do their thing, which is absolutely incredible as always, starting strong and slowly ramping up the dazzlement as the team get further underground. Not quite as stunning as their last book Beauty but still a sight to behold, especially in the colouring. For some people this will fall into the Aama bracket of gorgeous but over-familiar, but I think everyone will find something to enjoy.
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Postby galactagogue » Thu Sep 27, 2018 11:04 am

HotFingersClub wrote:Image
Michael DeForge – Brat
Another new full-length GN from DeForge, still apparently indefatigable after almost a decade as one of the best, most consistent and most prolific cartoonists working today. This one is about Ms. D, a world-famous professional juvenile delinquent, now struggling with her art and the expectations of her fans as she heads into her mid-thirties. As always with DeForge, it's beautiful, smart, fun and inventive, although there are a few things that keep it from transcendence. Maybe just in comparison to his other stuff, it feels slightly more dramatically and creatively inert, without as much of the visual experimentation as he usually brings to his projects, and with a lot of the action delivered via extended monologue to camera. It pretty much works for a story in which the protagonist is examining herself under a documentarian's lens but... But nothing, I guess. It pretty much works.



this is interesting, i appreciate the way you describe it too. do you think it's a little inert because a good comic necessitates some more engaged visuals or dialogue? i think i'm kind of a sucker for the overall esprit de l'escalier thing that comics get to play with regarding real lived moments.
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Postby galactagogue » Thu Sep 27, 2018 11:06 am

has anyone posted about Tommi Parrish ITT?? I think they're a really good example of what I mean.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Thu Sep 27, 2018 12:14 pm

I've got The Lie and How We Told It on my reading list currently but haven't read anything else by them yet. Fingers crossed to get there before the end of 2018.

this is interesting, i appreciate the way you describe it too. do you think it's a little inert because a good comic necessitates some more engaged visuals or dialogue? i think i'm kind of a sucker for the overall esprit de l'escalier thing that comics get to play with regarding real lived moments.


Hm good question. One of DeForge's tropes is that he often narrates his strips a bit like a Malick film, or like he's describing a memory to you. I guess it leaves him the space to do that esprit thing you describe where, freed from the pressure of having to depict clear action, he's able to zoom in on a tiny visual or experiential moment like the bug bite popping from A Western World that I posted about on the last page. And I agree those moments are very special and hard to achieve in other media.

But there are a few factors that make Brat a bit less compelling than that story. Most importantly, I don't think DeForge always puts the space that his narration affords him to good use. It's quite rare in Brat that we get anything like the bug bites that really let us into a moment like you describe – instead we're watching Ms. D walk around her neighbourhood and deliver her narration to camera in relatively static panels. That's not really a problem in the collections when we're constantly changing characters and situations, but Brat is 160 pages of basically one character, so there's an inevitable dip in energy.

I guess also just personally I prefer the more cinematic qualities of comics? It's what I grew up with. Some of the pleasure for me comes from divining interiority from the “acting” that artists allow their characters, or how they interact with each other, and there's less of that going on in Brat.

Like I say it still rips because DeForge is too talented. It only felt a little flatter in comparison to his more innovative stuff.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Thu Sep 27, 2018 12:15 pm

I hope that doesn't dodge the question entirely
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Postby sevenarts » Thu Sep 27, 2018 12:49 pm

That Nietzsche book definitely looks cool, I may try to track that down even knowing I won’t be able to read it traditionally.

I’m looking forward to the new DeForge and Weinstein books, both of which should be on their way to me now. Especially psyched for the new Frontier - I’ve enjoyed the more art-book-like issues they’ve done this year so far but to me that anthology has really excelled whenever a creator delivers a compact actual comic short story as their issue.

Sacred Heart looks/sounds cool. I’ve seen that on the Fanta site many times but somehow always skipped over it. I see a heavy Jaime Hernandez influence/vibe there and that can’t be a bad thing. Absolutely looks like my kinda thing.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Fri Sep 28, 2018 9:03 am

sevenarts wrote:Sacred Heart looks/sounds cool. I’ve seen that on the Fanta site many times but somehow always skipped over it. I see a heavy Jaime Hernandez influence/vibe there and that can’t be a bad thing. Absolutely looks like my kinda thing.


Yeah that's true. Strong Jaime influence. It seems like Suburbia may have been overlooked generally - I think this book should have been a pretty major calling card for a new creator.

Have you read Wet Moon? That's another series I love but seems to have been left out of the conversation a bit.
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Postby galactagogue » Fri Sep 28, 2018 9:45 am

it doesn't dodge ! thanks for the thoughtful reply hotfingers. im glad you guys keep this thread going, i'm afraid my indie comic knowledge is limited to the peers i have in the biz. it's a good number with a lot of variety but i know there's gotta be more. they are constantly going to comic events and hanging with crews i've never seen before.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Fri Sep 28, 2018 10:04 am

You have peers in the biz? Are you biz-adjacent yourself?

I wish I knew more people who make comics. I would love to make them myself but I can only draw about six things. I need some talented dope to follow my instructions to the letter and make my dreams a reality
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Postby HotFingersClub » Fri Sep 28, 2018 10:04 am

PS any of your peers we should be covering ITT?
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Postby HotFingersClub » Fri Sep 28, 2018 10:06 am

Or at least people we should politely avoid slagging off
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Postby galactagogue » Fri Sep 28, 2018 10:56 am

A lot of folks i know work with perfectly acceptable press ! haha you may have reviewed them... i am bad at keeping up w this thread :$
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Postby HotFingersClub » Fri Sep 28, 2018 11:57 am

Oh nice! Their lineup looks fantastic. Unfortunately I don't think much of their stuff makes it over to the big UK but I know sevenarts is a big Lale Westvind fan
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Postby sevenarts » Fri Sep 28, 2018 5:53 pm

Wet Moon has been on my radar for a long time since I loved Campbell’s work on Glory, haven’t gotten around to it yet. Will have to push it up the list a bit maybe.
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Postby sevenarts » Sun Sep 30, 2018 9:48 pm

Read through the latest Shortbox batch today. It's a solid group of comics, all very much aesthetically on point though a few of them are pretty slight. There's one obvious, unsurprising standout from the group but all 5 comics are enjoyable on at least some level and I'm glad I checked these out.

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The Island by Joy San
A very pretty but dark-tinged fairy tale. Its slightly cutesy surface aesthetic can't mask the sadness floating at its core, as a noir femme flees society, unhappy with her life, to make one last-ditch attempt at a magical cure to her melancholy. There's a startling midway pivot and then the second half satisfyingly delivers a non-resolution that maintains the sense of mystery and menace at the story's core. I dig San's simple but beautifully colored cartooning, and the fuzzy graphite textures in her shading, and the way that what seems at first like a pretty straightforward fable actually, in its ambiguity, has a lot more to it. Quite good.

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Stoke by Sam Wade
This one is a minimalist little pulp genre piece, drawn with admirable economy of lines and a restricted palette of a few flat colors. It's well-done, the characters are very wispy and defined with just a few clean lines but are pretty expressive anyway - but it's also pretty fluffy and almost instantly forgettable. Very insubstantial as a story, the emotional stakes are poorly defined, and it just kinda drifts away the instant I reached the last page. Definitely the weakest of this batch by some distance.

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Taemons by Kim Salt
Like all of the artists in this batch except for one, Salt is a new name to me. This is a fine mini that makes me want to see some more of what she can do, for sure. She reminds me a bit of Sophia Foster-Dimino, who's also in this batch, with a very precise formalist quality to her cartooning without ever seeming stiff or overly deterministic. Her pages look loose and flowing, with lots of unusual layouts and zig-zag double-page spreads. Also like Foster-Dimino, she explores complicated emotional states through a mix of visual metaphor, semi-abstraction, and down-to-earth everyday interactions. This isn't really on the level that the comparison implies but it's certainly a good little book, exploring a woman's abstracted journey through her own mind to grapple with the ways in which she isolates herself from other people. Most of all I just love the way Salt draws. Her pages are busy at times, crammed with details, but there's a basic elegance to her linework - almost Porcellino-esque at times - that prevents things from ever seeming cluttered, even when the twisty layouts complicate things even more.

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Gonzalo by Jed McGowan
Along with Stoke, this one is another straightforward genre piece, a realistically drawn ecological sci-fi parable. The premise is interesting, as a robotic bear, created by human researchers to blend in with dwindling grizzly populations and try to save the species, winds up outlasting humanity itself, as the world descends into a post-apocalyptic wasteland and the bear continues to follow its programming even long after the society he originated from has crumbled. McGowan's computer-assisted artwork isn't unattractive - the nuanced color gradients of the backgrounds are quite nice - but it's not very dynamic and there's some stiffness to his figures. More damningly, the writing and story are tinged with quite a bit of kitschy sentimentality, possibly trying to make its polemical point through some rather blatant heartstring-tugging. Not terrible but another weaker effort in this batch.

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Did You See Me? by Sophia Foster-Dimino
Here's the jewel of this batch, a substantial new short story from one of my favorite younger voices in comics. This is just fantastic, taking what is on its surface a rather straightforward romance/meet-cute story and turning it into a complex, multilayered contemplation of how people communicate in an age of ubiquitous cell phones and Twitter, how identity is presented through mediated images, and how we find meaning in art and culture. Visually, the story is presented through a mix of (drawn) cell phone screens, sketchy dream images with vivid painted colors, and more traditional comics. The multimedia presentation is really well-done, giving the storytelling a jumpy, fractured feeling as it moves between modes. The whole thing is good but it's the ending, which I won't ruin, that really makes it for a me - a couple of subtle shifts that, in just a final few 10 pages or so, grapple in really fascinating ways with media, the Internet, and identity, all while still delivering a very satisfying resolution to the central romantic plot. Great book.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Tue Oct 02, 2018 3:27 am

Awesome. I resent you having pipped me to the post when I have them waiting for me on my shelf but it's exciting to get a little preview of the 'box
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Postby sevenarts » Thu Oct 04, 2018 9:42 pm

Jog does a typically great job selling the appeal of Lale Westvind’s Grip, which remains one of the very best things I’ve read this year:

http://www.tcj.com/reviews/grip-vol-1/
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Postby Wombatz » Fri Oct 05, 2018 3:16 am

we don't need nobody selling the appeal, we need somebody selling us an actual copy :? :D

just started on hofbauer's morgen (hfc's recommendation iirc) and it's great so far! splendid mix of dark 1920s city myths and woodcut aesthetic and a strong contemporary local vibe ... more after the holidays ...
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