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 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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Postby sevenarts » Fri Oct 05, 2018 7:37 am

Wombatz wrote: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 ...


I've grabbed that Hofbauer book as well, looking forward to checking it out. Def looks like another great HFC rec.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Fri Oct 05, 2018 6:01 pm

Neat
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Postby HotFingersClub » Fri Oct 05, 2018 7:01 pm

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Tom Scioli – Final Frontier
I got nothing against Tom Scioli but it does seem a bit of a shame that he's devoted his life to doing a jug band Jack Kirby, and this book is not a great argument for Scioli as an artist in his own right. Basically he's just done re-skin of a few classic Fantastic Four issues – Reed and Sue are getting married and Galactus is coming to town for the first time. The twist here is that this FF analogue are also the world's greatest rock band. This information features in a small way in the first issue before Scioli pretty much forgets about it. It's very undercooked. Scioli's art is not at its best although the character designs are pretty fun. This is no Copra.

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Janwillem van de Wetering & Paul Kirchner – Murder by Remote Control
Another curio, this one from back in 1986. I've never heard it mentioned before but maybe I've not been paying attention. This is a psychedelic murder mystery set in a gated community surrounding a lake, written by a Dutch crime writer and illustrated by Kirchner, who's probably most famous for the surrealist formalist classic The Bus. It's similar to Twin Peaks in a lot of ways, with a strait-laced, slightly inhuman detective methodically interviewing a small cast of eccentrics one by one. These interviews almost always result in a rambling monologue, at which point Kirchner's stiff, almost educational artwork inevitably explodes into flat grey kaleidoscopes like the one you see above. It's very odd – doesn't really go anywhere or say anything very much as far as I can tell, but it's fun to look at.

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Marc-Antoine Mathieu – Sens
Speaking of Kirchner, this is kind of similar to The Bus. In a series of about 230 full-page silent drawings, a man wanders through a generally featureless landscape. It's an excuse to play constantly with perspectives and shapes, or rather one shape: the arrow, which appears over and over again in endless tricks and variations, guiding the man onwards. It takes about five minutes max to read but it's good!

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Tyler Landry – Shit and Piss
It feels like Tyler Landry is perhaps not okay. Shit and Piss is set in a nightmarish processing plant for shit and piss, the only remnant of a ruined civilisation, inhabited solely by disgusting mindless beasts. The book is narrated by the plant's custodian – a screaming skull on a small plinth. Pretty much the entire book is horrible shit-golems ripping each other to shreds while the skull soliloquises about genocide, degradation and decay over the top. I thought at first that a plot was going to emerge as the book follows a senseless meat creature around for a bit, but that strand is quickly dropped and it's revealed to be more a series of grotesque tone poems. I'm not assuming anything about Landry because I know art doesn't work like that, but this reads like Prison Pit as written by someone on the verge of suicide. It's probably a hard book to really love but I liked it quite a bit.

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Matt Fraction & Albert Monteys – Solid State
Fraction scripts this from a “concept” by some guy called Jonathan Coulton, and it's pretty decent, although in actual fact bears the closest resemblance to the Universe! series that Monteys writes and draws for Panelsyndicate. It's a familiar but kind of twisty little sci-fi story about a guy building a wall on some kind of foreign planet. His space suit gets broken so he can't eat his mood-altering pills anymore, and that sends him down a rabbit hole of self-knowledge and conspiracies, all that good stuff. The story works just fine, but the main draw is Monteys' beautiful cartooning. Clean, shapely, incredibly detailed yet expressive. He's lowkey one of my favourite artists I think.

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Dilraj Mann – Dalston Monsterzz
A big, colourful, straightforward book from Mann, about teen gangs and evil corporations set in a version of London where big, colourful monsters roam the streets. It goes to most of the obvious places without wasting much time in between the predictable story beats. I think the monsters could have been cut out altogether if they weren't so visually interesting. The stylised art in general is a lot of fun, although weirdly it looks better here on the screen than it does in my oversized hardback copy. I think the format they've chosen for print unexpectedly highlights the lack of detail and texture rather than enhancing the art particularly.
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Postby wildarms » Fri Oct 05, 2018 7:16 pm

anybody have all-time horror / spooky recommendations?
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Postby sevenarts » Fri Oct 05, 2018 11:27 pm

Probably overly obvious but Junji Ito (Uzumaki, Gyo, tons of short stories) and Kazuo Umezu (Drifting Classroom) are total classics of horror manga.

I also really like Emily Carroll (read this now!), Josh Simmons, Julia Gfrorer, Alan Moore's Providence, and Jamie Delano's Hellblazer.
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Postby Wombatz » Sat Oct 06, 2018 5:46 am

HotFingersClub wrote:Image
Janwillem van de Wetering & Paul Kirchner – Murder by Remote Control
Another curio, this one from back in 1986. I've never heard it mentioned before but maybe I've not been paying attention. This is a psychedelic murder mystery set in a gated community surrounding a lake, written by a Dutch crime writer and illustrated by Kirchner, who's probably most famous for the surrealist formalist classic The Bus. It's similar to Twin Peaks in a lot of ways, with a strait-laced, slightly inhuman detective methodically interviewing a small cast of eccentrics one by one. These interviews almost always result in a rambling monologue, at which point Kirchner's stiff, almost educational artwork inevitably explodes into flat grey kaleidoscopes like the one you see above. It's very odd – doesn't really go anywhere or say anything very much as far as I can tell, but it's fun to look at.

i read that earlier this year but had totally forgotten what i thought about it (a similar kind of friendly lukewarm, it seems): "Kirchner himself has said he was very disappointed by de Wetering's contributions who more or less just filled the speech bubbles with exposition and descriptions of what's being shown in the pictures anyway, and indeed this never really takes off despite the plane theme (also the more psychedelic pages would need color to do that, they tend to fall apart), on the other hand, the flat dialog saves it from Steve Aylett territory ... on the whole, still kind of interesting. nice ending."

i tried shit and piss but gave up on it when it became clear it was going nowhere ... not gonna wallow in the shit and piss for the sake of it (and there seem to be quite a lot of comics makers who simply aestheticize their youthful transgressiveness as their art develops without ever questioning their subject matter ... (so maybe the author is the happiest guy on earth (not enough dick jokes for that tho))).

re horror i especially second the drifting classroom and delano hellblazer (both in my inner pantheon), and maybe add that for me morrison's best (sustained) work in the last decade might fall under that umbrella, nameless and annihilator.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Sat Oct 06, 2018 6:14 am

Oh yeah I remember that post now! Mainly I was focused on how gratified I felt that you also apparently don't like Steve Aylett. That's interesting about de Wetering's input as well.

Funnily enough I never thought of Shit and Piss as being juvenile or youthful, although it's clearly transgressive. It felt surprisingly heavy and real to me, given how insane it is. I could very easily believe that Landry is happy. Sometimes excreting stuff like this is a good way to make the body feel good. We've all been there!
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