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 » Sat Nov 17, 2018 6:37 am

Cool. Definitely don't bother reading any of the books that aren't the travelogues or Hostage. They're puffs of nothing
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Postby Wombatz » Sun Nov 18, 2018 7:17 am

an older recommendation from this thread:

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Education by John Hankiewicz. this is not my usual kind of jam, on the surface one of those miserablist every man is an island comics where there's no real communication between people any more and isn't it tragic. it's only the men that are islands, of course, for women are kind of lighter hearted though that makes them less individual, so here one of them goofing around suffices as a memory of a (potential) lover for both father and son and a mother figure all rolled in one, plus i guess as a personification of the men's better feelings to boot. BUT. there's real warmth in the father son non interaction where we always see the blank reaction shots and never the face the speech bubble emanates from. the formalism of the pages corresponds to the rituals the characters perform to be themselves and it's just so well done that complaints would be academical ... except the whole balance easily collapses e.g. when for pages on end we ponder the story of cat's puke staining the carpet. still rather impressive.

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i also read two more from Irkus Zeberio: Sirius, which was a minor zine, and Gr€zia, which i thought was very strong again (though after recent feedback on some books i wouldn't expect anybody here to like it half as much as i do). it's clearly political, though not really delivering an argument (you need to know e.g. how the european union made greece pay back their state debt by forcing them to sell all the profitable parts of their infrastructure to foreign investors at cut throat prices), and there seems to be an undercurrent of anti-intellectualism i don't necessarily endorse (while obviously delivered by somebody who has studied some philosophy), but as with his nietzsche book, there's real meat in these deceptively deskilled doodles. (there's probably one other thing by him i would need, titled Propaganda, but it's spendy so i'm still hesitating.)

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Multimonde by Sammy Stein. this is nice, a descent into an artificial world as it is being designed, zone by zone, until we hit on our real world social housing projects. the zine itself immaculately designed but also a bit flat ... in contrast,

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4 Fragments by Viktor Hachmang comes from a similar designer's perspective but is anything but flat. if you know his earlier Book of Void, which was nice but very controlled, and was as much about the well-measured use of special color than about anything else ... now he has ramped up the energy levels into something much more interesting and much more comics (i kind of thought a bit like tradd moore lets loose in the new world, though of course that comparison only makes very relative sense (plus that kabuki mask thing)). the printing is totally amazing, but also these four miniatures between primeval man discovering radioactive slime and a robot pouring himself a cup of coffee are absolutely on point. full marks.
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Postby sevenarts » Sun Nov 18, 2018 9:07 am

Nice. I also recommend Hankiewicz's earlier collection Asthma, which doesn't have the same narrative core, instead focusing on these abstract, difficult-to-pinpoint sensations and feelings through his rigid formalist sequences.

Zeberio continues to look interesting, and that Hachmang fragment is beautiful, reminds me a bit of Yuichi Yokoyama, and also that George Wylesol collection we all read a while back.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Tue Nov 20, 2018 12:32 pm

Some quick reviews of short books while I have a minute:

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Yumi Sakugawa – Fashion Forecasts
Sevenarts covered this, and I basically agree although I think I found it more charming than he did, nursing something of an affinity for books like this (and those by Lisa Hanawalt) where silly ideas are left purposely undeveloped. Her designs really are a pleasure to look over – they’re genuinely fun and stylish. I think a deceptive amount of care and thought may have gone into them, despite the finished book feeling so slight. I found her trademark font pretty annoying.

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Sarah Horrocks – Hecate Snake Diaries
This is a very early work from Horrocks, a selection of digitally produced mini-strips that float by in an oil slick of greasy textures and colours, and jagged suggestive shapes. Like a lot of early works, these feel both primally urgent and pretty pretentious – it certainly doesn’t sustain a mood in the way her later stuff does so well.

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Ellen Forney – I Love Led Zeppelin
After Horrocks’s bleeding edges, this clutch of autobiog and advice comix felt pretty old-fashioned, but Forney’s been doing this for a long time and she’s definitely got talent. The tongue-in-cheek “How To” guides in the first quarter were my favourite bits – Forney brings in guest experts to cover such diverse topics as twirling nipple tassels, kicking heroin at home, sewing amputated fingers back on, and folding the American flag before presenting it to the deceased’s next of kin. Some of these strips are liberal orthodoxy now, and some of them are still unique and fascinating, although I might question the wisdom of giving space to a man talking about how guns should be used to “survive the coming chaos.” The other autobiog stuff, taken both from Forney’s own life and the lives of guest writers, is not always so memorable, but there’s still a lot of fun to be had. Fans of Dennis Eichorn’s Real Stuff (and a thousand other punk comix memoirs) will probably find something to enjoy.

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Dave Cooper – Mudbite
I don’t remember the last time Cooper was releasing sequential stuff. He hasn’t changed much. He’s of the Crumb school in many ways, particularly the bubbly pockmarked texture of his cartooning and his unsavoury attitude towards women. This story of a man visiting the big city with his family dissolves very quickly, both narratively and visually. It soon becomes clear that Cooper is retelling a couple of dreams he had, and once that happens there’s not a huge amount to keep it interesting. With only a couple of panels on each of its 85 pages, it really zips by. This is more stuff for Dave Cooper completists I think.

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Brandon Graham – Royalboiler
The return of a possibly problematic fave, this is Graham’s second art book following on from the brilliant Walrus. Where the first book was genuine sketches and collages, Royalboiler is more like completed marginalia. Covers, alternate covers, posters, pinups and guest pages, lightly annotated with some notes on style, influences and personal context. Graham’s sense of detail, design and invention is still pretty much second to none in my eyes, and his work is still immediately recognisable. There’s such a summery, Sunday afternoon mood that permeates all his stuff. He really suits this format as well. A lot of it is older stuff and covers that you may have seen before, but no one else creates covers and pinups with as much richness and reward for the eye, and it’s all in glorious colour. Interestingly (maybe disturbingly), in light of the allegations against him, he’s included a lot of trans imagery and portraits of trans people in this book: something he’s never really focused on before.
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Postby sevenarts » Wed Nov 21, 2018 12:05 am

Cool, didn't even know Graham had a new book.

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Fielder #1 by Kevin Huizenga
Huizenga's new series now that Ganges finally wrapped up. Unlike Ganges, which was very focused on a single story, this is more like Huizenga's minicomics - sprawling, varied, filled with odd serials and experiments that may or may not ever actually be finished. There are some of his redrawn old '50s dinosaur comics, as weird as ever, a new installment of his silent, near-abstract video game comic "Fight or Run" (an apocalyptic climax for that series), and a pseudo-autobiography about his obsession with cartoons of hair, which seems to be gently poking fun at the self-effacements of cartoonists. Most importantly, there's the start of a new Glenn Ganges serial called "Fielder, Michiana." This seems to be, of all things, a prequel to Ganges, documenting the protagonist's day prior to his epic sleepless night. Like Ganges, it's very much about stretching out moments and dissecting them, following long trains of thought and then looping back to a physical reality where hardly a second has passed. Huizenga continues his experiments with visualizing thought, but he's also here doing more diagramming and analysis of the physical - examining nuances of posture and gravity, mapping currents of air. It's also more overtly meta, with some philosophical voiceovers that could be coming from Huizenga himself, musing on what his own creation might mean to himself and his readers. Great, engrossing stuff as always, and positioning this first chapter in the context of all these other fragments and experiments helps give a pretty full overview of Huizenga's current concerns as an artist.

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The Inspector by Liam Cobb
Does Cobb, as Wombatz say, put out too many comics? Maybe, and if so this is surely exhibit A... but as with most of his stuff I enjoyed it enough that it being totally unnecessary is kind of beside the point. A frivolous sequel to a frivolous comic from a few years ago starring the Michelin Man. One of the world's oldest trademarks goes around to famous restaurants reviewing their esoteric fare. Taking aim at food snobbery is surely an easy target but Cobb's pitch-perfect deadpan style helps the jokes land. Pretty hilarious, and yet as silly as it is Cobb's style is as beautiful and precise as ever. I liked it, but those with more misgivings about Cobb can feel free to skip it.

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Another Blue World by Jon Chandler
The drawings are very appealing - ferociously scrawled, all these angry little batchs of marks floating in copious white space - but this collection of a couple older minicomics, my first full exposure to Chandler, doesn't really help me get my bearings with him. His sketchy figures act out scenes of violence (rape, murder, getting devoured by slimy alien monsters) and deliver fragments of conversations that never really go anywhere. Reminds me a lot of C.F. and Gary Panter (the latter is certainly a very obvious influence) but with all context and richness deliberately pared away, all the mysterious suggestiveness there is in their work is missing here. These are just blunt and nasty moments and I can't say I got much out of it.

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Wet Shape In the Dark by Jon Chandler
This, on the other hand, I enjoyed. Chandler's new collection features a set of 12 short stories, each one a spiky little genre exercise mostly populated with tough-talking men spouting masculine movie cliches. What's interesting is how Chandler plays with the form, wrapping his stories in meta-games - like the Haneke-esque voyeur-baiting in the first story - and frequently short-circuiting the expected explosive climaxes. Sometimes these stories end in the violence that never seems to be too far from the surface in his work, but just as often they unexpectedly detour elsewhere. In the take on the Western offered here, for example, a taut showdown between strangers becomes a job offer instead of a murder. Aesthetically, this is rougher and rawer than Another Blue World, consisting mostly of full-page images in a very ragged style, but it's an intriguing quick read that made me a lot more interested in figuring out what Chandler's up to.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Wed Nov 21, 2018 6:52 am

Very excited about new Huizenga - he's a top five creator for me. Still need to pick up the last issue of Ganges but it's always so expensive. Pretty poor distribution in the UK generally.

That spread from The Inspector looks gorgeous. I don't care what either of you say, I think it's going to be my favourite book of 2018 when I actually read it
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Postby HotFingersClub » Wed Nov 21, 2018 9:35 am

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Tom Scioli – Satan’s Soldier
Went into this feeling sceptical after being bored to death by Final Frontier a couple of pages ago but damn if Scioli didn’t turn me around a little bit. This is another classic superhero pastiche, but this time fed through an extra few layers of distortion to create something much more interesting. Scioli’s drawings are rough and scratchy here, with digital colours layered on top until it looks like outsider PC art. That’s not the only thing it has in common with late period Frank Miller: the Soldier is an amoral impulsive child, blasting through a landscape of flimsy human bodies and abstract shapes, powered by solipsism. The looseness is intoxicating – this is good messy fun.

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Charles Forsman – Slasher
This was cool – instantly one of my favourite Forsman series. It’s a grimy, nasty, Saulnier-esque little thriller about a disturbed young woman harbouring fantasies of murder, in love with a fourteen year old fellow knife pervert effectively being kept prisoner by his mother’s Munchausen by Proxy. It’s a great setup, and works so well with Forsman’s flat, scratchy art. I love the way his protagonist becomes a kind of superhero by putting on her gimp suit and slashing throats, pursuing the justice of her own orgasm and bodily autonomy. It’s not just a study in psychosis though – Forsman packs this thing out with twists and unexpected beats in a pervasive fog of small town American desolation. It’s unusually tight, and I think pretty much transcends the soil of z-movie shock tactics which it grows out of.

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William Cardini – Tales From the Hyperverse
Another entry in a fast-growing subgenre of monsters undergoing colourful battles with little-to-no interruption from plot. This is Prison Pit on a cosmic scale, as massive entities float in space and scream at each other to ‘DIE!’ while blasting away with crystals and lasers, breaking apart, reforming etc. There’s really not a whole lot to it, but I had a good time. Cardini’s drawings are chunky and colourful; they really pop and there’s something weirdly cute about his monsters and their goofy vendettas.

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Al Jaffee – Tall Tales
Very very old school single-page gag comics from a legendary cartoonist. Jaffee is pure, innocent, 1950s cartooning, and as such he’s often not very funny, but there are still a few hits in this collection, and a great beauty in the construction of the panels. It works particularly well on a laptop screen, where scrolling down the length of the image often creates great comic timing that would be lost in print, where you see the whole picture at once.

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Arabson Assis – The Terrible Elisabeth Dumn Against the Devils in Suits
A one-shot translated by James Robinson and published by Image, this is a calling card for Assis, who has a hyper-detailed, instantly appealing art style like a cross between Rafael Grampa and the films of Sylvain Chomet. The production looks very handsome – he has obvious star quality, although he might be a bit grotesque in this mode to catch on with the mainstream. The story works basically fine but has less to recommend it: Elisabeth Dumn is a young hellion sold to the devil by her father, going on a brief road trip with a couple of supernatural buddies to escape the clutches of Hell. Like Geof Darrow, you can tell the spots where Assis gets bored with the narrative and decides to stretch out into a very long fight scene. The pacing is not ideal and there’s not always quite enough going on to support the art.
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Postby sevenarts » Wed Nov 21, 2018 10:10 am

HotFingersClub wrote:That spread from The Inspector looks gorgeous. I don't care what either of you say, I think it's going to be my favourite book of 2018 when I actually read it


LOL I hope it is.

Ganges is getting collected next year, I think from D&Q, that will presumably get better distribution than Huizenga's self-published issues which didn't even really get good distribution here in the US, let alone overseas.

I liked Slasher a lot too, it's really pulpy but unlike Revenger it retains the intense emotional complexity of Forsman's best work. Real good series and I was genuinely thrown for a loop by the twists several times, which I can't say happens too often these days.
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Postby Wombatz » Wed Nov 21, 2018 3:25 pm

sevenarts wrote:Image
Another Blue World by Jon Chandler
His sketchy figures act out scenes of violence (rape, murder, getting devoured by slimy alien monsters) and deliver fragments of conversations that never really go anywhere. Reminds me a lot of C.F. and Gary Panter (the latter is certainly a very obvious influence) but with all context and richness deliberately pared away, all the mysterious suggestiveness there is in their work is missing here. These are just blunt and nasty moments and I can't say I got much out of it.


you won't be surprised to hear i think this is absolutely brilliant :P you don't mention all the mythological allusions: the first episode has the man pulling a golem/doppelganger from out of the mud for company (and they don't even fight though it's clearly a one-sided relationship), then primitive man steals a pouch from a figure that's like a medieval fool with truncated horns and casts the die (maybe), then we follow a hunter back thru the flood into a garden of eden, then modern man comes and spoils it all ... not as a continued narrative of course, nor with a controlled symbolism, but to me there's always a vague point ... and i love a moment like towards the end when the primitive man gets caught in a snare and then he forgets and just enjoys it, soaring towards the sun, because suddenly it's like play ... chandler can get too close to genre for my taste, though, e.g. in the john's worth series.
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Postby sevenarts » Fri Nov 23, 2018 1:55 pm

I kinda assumed I'd feel like a dummy who didn't get it once you posted :) But yeah I got it was doing some allusions and playing with archetypes and such... just didn't really resonate for me, I didn't feel like there was enough there besides the intensity of the drawing itself. I liked the other book more so maybe I'm more into Chandler when he's at least a little more rooted in genre and narrative.
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Postby sevenarts » Fri Nov 23, 2018 2:46 pm

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Cherry by Ines Estrada
Wild new oneshot from the great Estrada. This one seems like a twofold homage: half '60s underground, half sleazy "bad girl" comic. When an office drone finds out she only has a few months to live, she transforms herself into a punky robber and travels to Iceland on a whim. It's either a sex-obsessed death comic, or a death-obsessed sex comic, but either way this is intense, willfully over-the-top, and surprisingly touching in the end. Estrada's drawings seem to vibrate off the page with all the feeling she pours into her wide-eyed, awkwardly proportioned figures.

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The Big Me Book by Tom Van Deusen
Another little slice of Van Deusen's tongue-in-cheek "autobiographical" comics, in which he portrays himself as a vile, racist, misogynist asshole. In some ways I get the sense that he's trying to have his cake and eat it too, wallowing in typical post-Crumb alt-comics excess while also poking fun at the stereotype, but he's genuinely funny enough that it generally works. The central story here, in which a magical cat grants the protagonist 3 wishes and then is increasingly disgusted by the choices, is a master class of the form. Like Van Deusen's other books, it's also a pretty spot-on depiction of casual, clueless white male idiocy and the lack of self-awareness common to these sadly recognizable types. Total nasty hilarity.

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Blammo #10 by Noah Van Sciver
Van Sciver's latest one-man anthology issue seems like even more of a grab-bag than usual though much of it is held together by a focus on cartooning, humor, and unwanted or awkward celebrity. This is probably the most concentrated enjoyment I've gotten out of a Van Sciver comic, it's a pretty solid issue, and does a better job than the other Blammos I've read of actually fulfilling on the model of those famed '90s anthologies he's clearly aspiring to. Even the autobio strips, usually my least favorite part of his work, are good this time - especially the one where his trip to a lame gallery show causes him to remember his ill-fated attempts to create his own art movement called "Noahism," with deadpan flashbacks deftly woven between moments of the present-day story. The most substantial story here is a piece about a fictional cartoonist whose beloved strip ended with a cliffhanger when he went into seclusion, and now that he's dead his two children fight to be the first to find the missing final chapter - one to publish it, the other to destroy it. It's a great, self-contained little study of fame and the ways in which creating for an audience can injure a work's original meaning for the creator. I can't say I got quite as much out of the rather straight-faced bio strips about the humorist Artemus Ward, but all in all this was a surprisingly good comic.

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Bastard by Max de Radigues
A fine noirish road movie thriller from this Belgian cartoonist. Very Charles Forsman, which makes sense since de Radigues helped publish some of Forsman's stuff in Europe, and Forsman returned the favor by serializing some of this as minis on Oily. I liked the Oily minis, which got through maybe half of this before Oily stopped publishing anything, and the complete story is just as enjoyable. A mom and son grifter duo go on the run after a massive heist in which their fellow thieves betray them. It leans a little more towards a straightforward genre piece than Forsman usually does, and consequently it's not as emotionally and thematically rich, but it's still fun and the central relationship is very sweet. De Radigues' clean, economical line means that the action beats and the more introspective moments alike feel great, and he has a real way for stripping his storytelling to compact snapshot panels that capture a scene in a single image.
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Postby sevenarts » Mon Dec 03, 2018 8:25 pm

Just got Copra Versus 3/4/5 compendium and Negativeland in the mail today from Fiffe, which was a super-nice surprise since I wasn't paying attention at all. Non-subscribers should go take a look at his site, these look especially limited.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Tue Dec 04, 2018 4:47 am

I read Negativeland last week. It's alright!
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Postby HotFingersClub » Tue Dec 04, 2018 4:49 am

In case anyone missed it in the Dropbox thread

HotFingersClub wrote:Image
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I put up a copy of Dash Shaw's debut film My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea in the Movies folder because I saw it the other day and thought it was kinda cool
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