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 Wombatz » Mon Dec 24, 2018 2:31 pm

HotFingersClub wrote:Thrilled to announce that I have bought The Inspector for myself as a Christmas present and will read it in about five months when I get to the bottom of my reading pile

i was super disappointed you didn't put it on top of your best of 2018 list sight unseen
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Postby Wombatz » Mon Dec 24, 2018 2:33 pm

(double post)
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Postby HotFingersClub » Tue Dec 25, 2018 3:35 pm

I am a man of superficial and idiotic taste but I do have my principles
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Postby shacky » Wed Jan 02, 2019 4:44 am

x-posting from the books thread cos i forgot we even had an alt comics thread.

dominique goblet - pretending is lying

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this really blew me away and i need reccs for similar things. i have no vocab for this kinda thing but i guess what i liked was the mixed media aspect, the stylistic range from simple childlike drawings to crazy expressionistic (?) childlike drawings to wild collages to whatever you call those sick photograph-like pencil drawings to the full rothko stuff towards the end. i just loved how scattershot and fragmented and beautifully ugly it was, scans of faded, oily, stained pages held together with grimy tape, and how this reflected the themes of childhood, time, memory and trauma. the whole thing felt truly raw, turning the pages you worry you might smudge the art or get dirt on yr clothes, it feels like holding something unfinished, something half-born, living, breathing, and dying in yr very hands.

ive done a bit of research but haven't come up with much. 'gulag casual' looks interesting but seems like it might lack narrative, not sure if it's worth $35?
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Postby shacky » Wed Jan 02, 2019 4:52 am

out of curiosity what percentage of these sort of books do you guys read digitally as opposed to buying physical copies?

it sucks so, so much how crazy expensive comics are, i dunno how aficionados afford/justify the purchases
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Postby sevenarts » Wed Jan 02, 2019 7:36 am

Yeah, comics is a sadly very expensive hobby. I read most Marvel/DC/mainstream stuff digitally/illicitly but try to support the more boutique publishers and self-publishing creators I really like. I also make some use of libraries and should probably do that way more - most libraries now have at least a decent-ish graphic novel section with a lot of more "literary" highlights, and some are really great.

Anyway, that Goblet book rules, I wrote that up somewhere a few pages back and was similarly blown away by it. The art is jaw-dropping, I love the way she made her process and the passage of time - the book was drawn over a very long period and some of the early pages yellowed naturally over the years - a part of the work rather than trying to obscure the origins. It's a pretty unique book so I'm not sure I can recommend anything quite like it but since it seems like you especially responded to the emotive, textural quality of the mixed media approach, I'd suggest Joe Kessler's Windowpane (a new collection of his risograph minicomics, showcasing his amazing approach to color) and Tommi Parrish's The Lie and How We Told It. Both are very visceral and affecting, and both inventively use the art to communicate the emotions and ideas at the core of their work.

Gulag Casual is OK, it's an interesting book for sure, but it's definitely more abstract and nowhere near the level of quality of the Goblet or the two I recommended.
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Postby sevenarts » Wed Jan 02, 2019 7:39 am

Oh yeah, an older classic that'd probably be right up your alley is Frank Santoro's Storeyville:

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Just gorgeous minimalist comics that put the process right on the page in service of an affecting narrative.
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Postby shacky » Wed Jan 02, 2019 9:16 am

it's kinda cool that there's nothing else quite like the goblet out there, makes it feel like even more of a special book. but wow yeah these all do look great in their own ways, thanks dude!

the kessler especially looks like edibly gorgeous, i just bought it! i love what he's doing with architectural and interior design, some of the pages look like tati dropped acid and directed some snes cutscenes or something haha
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Postby HotFingersClub » Fri Jan 04, 2019 12:12 pm

Kessler is king - Windowpane is one of my favourite books in the last few years.

I always thought Dash Shaw had a similar look but his stuff is probably more controlled than what you're asking for. Phoebe Gloeckner or Mary Fleener or Dennis Eichorn's Real Stuff might be good matches tonally but having not read PIL I might not know what I'm talking about
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Postby HotFingersClub » Sat Jan 05, 2019 6:21 pm

I read a bunch of stuff over the holidays, including a batch of recent Shortbox comics which I'll group here:

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Sophia Foster-Dimino – Did You See Me?
A one-off which definitely lives up to the high promise of Foster-Dimino's debut collection Sex Fantasy. The concept is familiar from a bunch of fabulist prose fiction, as two characters start to meet in their dreams, but Foster-Dimino takes it to much more interesting places, forgoing an obvious dreamlike remove for something that seems fully engaged with technology, digital anonymity and modern life. This is a charming and fascinating piece, and also really shows off her growing chops as an artist. The dream sequences here are truly gorgeous with lush colours and a subtle formalist bent, like Yokoyama's painted work.

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Sam Wade – Stoke
A visually and narratively spartan, forgettable genre pastiche wherein a boxer is hired as the muscle for a small criminal outfit on a mission. This reminded me of Revenger without the self-conscious nastiness. Instead, it brings to the table a nice sense of inclusivity and nothing else.

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Kim Salt – Taemons
A girl is therapeutically brought face to face with the embodiment of her inner demons in this book. If it had colour it would probably be more of a standout, because the art and sense of flow are both pretty good, and the coloured art I can find by Salt online is very nice. Particularly in the shapes, it reminded me of Andi Watson, albeit without his animator's eye for clarity. Salt never really develops the premise here, which begins and ends with the literalisation of inner demons.

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Joy San – The Island
An odd spooky little fable in a similar key to Richard Sala, this tells the story of a woman journeying to a mysterious island in order to cultivate a mysterious seed. That coloured graphite look or whatever it is, that looks nice and warm, but once again it feels very slight compared to the heights of the Shortbox collections.

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Rosie Brand – Wizard and Soft Pig
Not a minicomic but a chubby little 100 page storybook from earlier in the year. Brand follows a slightly uptight and serious wizard on a journey with his companion, a cheerfully unhelpful blob calling itself a “soft pig”. The relationship is your basic Garfield/Jon dynamic but it's kind of charming. Same with the art, which is some of the chunkiest and most simplistic I've ever seen in a comic book, like James Kochalka seen through thick cataracts. It seems like anyone actually buying it would really be paying a premium for what is essentially four half-decent gag strips on extremely high-quality paper but it does have that little spoonful of goofy charm.

Bit of a weak pack, all in all. Definitely makes me think twice about signing up for another release :/
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Postby sevenarts » Sat Jan 05, 2019 10:16 pm

Glad you dug the Foster-Dimino so much. I think what impressed me most about it was thinking how that premise, done by almost anyone else, would be kinda fluffy and cute at best, but in her hands it goes to much deeper places. There always seems to be this strong intellectual core to her work, there's real formalist rigor to it without ever seeming the least bit cold or academic.

I think I liked the Island and Taemons more than you but, admittedly, mainly for the art. Kim Salt seems like she could be interesting though, I especially like her page layouts in that book. Can't disagree that none of the recent books besides the Foster-Dimino one really seemed very substantial.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Sun Jan 06, 2019 11:50 am

Yeah I feel like they all had some sort of potential, especially as artists, but you ideally want a little more than that from a whole boxful of lovingly-produced indie comix
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Postby HotFingersClub » Sun Jan 06, 2019 11:52 am

Looking back at your old reviews I think I liked Gonzalo a bit more than you did. It's kind of a neat oddball idea and I thought some of the paintings were very beautiful
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Postby HotFingersClub » Sun Jan 06, 2019 1:18 pm

More:

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David B. – The Armed Garden and Other Stories
This was fantastic, definitely the best thing I've seen from David B among a clutch of pretty strong books (Epileptic, Incidents in the Night, Best of Enemies). It's three stories, all sharing the same world of Biblical and mythical marginalia, featuring haunted drums, mindbending magical tricks and Guernica-esque scenes of battle. The whole thing has this swirling Borgesian energy to it, showing the dark corners of history where forgotten legends and outright lies become intermingled and assume equal primacy, all tied into something bigger and scarier. The first story in particular, involving a veiled prophet whose face kills those who look upon it, is a really effective stew of religious tropes and genuine eldritch horror. His art is at its peak as well: stylised, dark, angular and intricate, it really works well in concert with the subject.


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Sonny Liew – The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye
This was a real stab at an opus from Liew, an artist whose most memorable work before 2015 was in service to writers like Mike Carey and Gene Luen Yang. This is the biography of an imagined Singaporean comics master, tying together the history of the medium in both the east and west with the political history of Singapore and a character study of this Tezuka-like figure who acts as Liew's lens. It's a tangled conceit, with Liew putting at least four levels of reality on the page, simultaneously showing us scenes from Charlie's comics (mostly allegories for real historical events), dramatised scenes from his actual life, having Charlie deliver direct-to-camera monologues, and also inserting himself (Liew) into the story as a guide like Scott McCloud.

So it's super ambitious and complex and full of depth and serious intentions, but ultimately difficult to love for me. Through all the artifice, Liew's primary interest seems to be the history of Singapore, but the events he depicts are over-allegorised and under-dramatised for my tastes, leaving them feeling confusing and often dry. It's definitely impressive that he finds space for pastiches of Pogo, Astro Boy, Spider-Man and many many others within the same text, and I think he gets the general tone of those texts but doesn't quite manage to make them interesting in their own right. Maybe I'm asking a lot there, but I guess maybe it's also an invited criticism. Liew's art in particular doesn't quite rise to the challenge – he's a solid cartoonist but he's not quite suited to pastiche and mimicking stuff from other periods; it just doesn't look very convincing. This was a massive success and a winner of multiple awards though, including three Eisners, so don't take my word for it. Even if, for me, it was more of a noble failure, it was great to read something this ambitious and with so much to teach me about unfamiliar parts of history.


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Manu Larcenet – The Artist in the Family
This is self-admittedly “purely an exercise in style” from a French artist who's new to me. I'm not sure I really understand the experiment, but it seems to involve writing introspective journal entries and then doodling over them with no conscious attempt to reflect their content in the drawing. As you might expect it is... not interesting.


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Cecile Bidault – The Bark of Things
This is quite a lovely, deceptively complex little book, about a young girl who moves to the country with her parents. The girl is deaf, and beyond a very short internal monologue in the first section, the book is wordless, filled with empty speech bubbles from the adults who chatter incomprehensibly over her head. There's a strong Ghibli vibe to the beautiful coloured art (especially the background drawings), and to the way the girl explores the natural environment around her, but it's brought back to earth by what seems to be rising tensions between the girl's parents and her frustration at being unable to communicate with the outside world. Ultimately it still has a pretty light touch, and I'm not sure the magical realism of the ending was the most interesting way to go, but there's more here than it seems at first.


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Tommi Musturi – The Book of Hope
So I've recently loved two of Musturi's books: the silent GN Simply Samuel and the wild minicomic Snake in the Nose, and went into this, an English translation of his first full-length project, with very high hopes. It's five sections, each originally published as its own issue, each of which follow a rambling monologue from a middle-aged man living in the woods, as he and his wife look back on their lives. I LOVE the art, which has an almost unnatural vibrancy and vividness, emphasising perfectly-placed background details and placing the man in full-body profile over and over again in different costumes, clearly influenced by Mario and other video games. It's something Musturi would do again to equally great effect in Simply Samuel, and it's always visually fascinating to me, especially when he breaks out of those frames to show panoramas and microscopic details. Aside from the art, it kind of goes the other way from Samuel and becomes way too verbose. The monologues are long and often purple and not a huge amount of fun. I can see it would have worked a lot better in its original format of separate minicomics. Read all in one go, it gets to be a bit much. Still very excited about any forthcoming Musturi projects and would be delighted to have almost any of these pages in a frame on my wall.
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Postby sevenarts » Sun Jan 06, 2019 1:19 pm

I liked the colors in Gonzalo a lot but the art was just too stiff for me to really get onboard. Like most of these - well, except Stoke - it had enough going on to be interesting and worth a read but that's all.
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Postby sevenarts » Sun Jan 06, 2019 1:27 pm

Oooh yeah that David B collection is one of my favorites as well. Those stories were first translated for issues of MOME and were always the highlight of any volume they appeared in. Just fantastic, dense stuff, and the shorter, more focused scope of each story helps make David B's fascination with mythology and the fantastical hit especially hard.

Haven't read the rest yet but I've been very curious about the Liew book, he's a cool artist, and that Bidault looks lovely.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Mon Jan 07, 2019 4:21 am

Yeah he really chose the right period to write about for his kind of flat gothic art style.

Interested to hear your thoughts on the Liew and whether I’m completely out on a limb with this one. When my attention starts to waver during long important books I’m never sure whether it’s my fault or the author’s.

Any 2019 releases to look out for from people who read news sources other than HPN? I notice there’s a Grip Vol. 2 on the horizon as well as a re-release of Vol. 1.
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Postby Wombatz » Mon Jan 07, 2019 11:51 am

HotFingersClub wrote:Image
Manu Larcenet – The Artist in the Family
This is self-admittedly “purely an exercise in style” from a French artist who's new to me. I'm not sure I really understand the experiment, but it seems to involve writing introspective journal entries and then doodling over them with no conscious attempt to reflect their content in the drawing. As you might expect it is... not interesting.

hey i'm also reading a book by manu larcenet, le rapport de brodeck (in german, though). that is, i'm trying hard not to give up on it because it was such a well-chosen xmas present and i'd prefer to encourage similar efforts for the future ... and it looks pretty awesome:
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... but ooh, it's so heavy-handed. it's full of rural types in some far off village who look like a hundred generations of inbreeding and are not nice to each other and even worse to the one other who got lost there and was duly butchered. this wants to be a kafkaesque sartre pondering the conditio humana after the holocaust, with no tools for rendering the dark side except some nice inks ... very literary of course (it's after a novel by some claudel (no, not that one)), so the narrator dunce goes meta on every occasion pondering the back and forth in editing his sentences which mirrors the lack of order in his life. it's about the act of writing=drawing and the ability of looking without judging which is what makes us humans get along and such garbage. it's a handsome as hell volume, though, so maybe it'd be easiest to hope it won't ever be translated to english.
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Postby sevenarts » Mon Jan 07, 2019 12:24 pm

I didn’t even know Grip 2 was coming soon, that’s exciting!

I’m looking forward to new 2019 books from:

Michael Deforge
Mary Fleener (wow, her first big work in forever)
Simon Hanselmann
Emily Carroll (new horror GN that looks great)
David B (Babel finally!)
Ulli Lust
Lale Westvind again (collection of her minicomics)
Kevin Huizenga
Eleanor Davis
Kramer’s 10
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Postby sevenarts » Tue Jan 08, 2019 1:01 am

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Homunculus by Joe Sparrow
A little Short Box novella I missed until creationist pointed it out on this year's best comics list. A young researcher creates and nurtures an AI, patiently teaching it and befriending it, and then the world succumbs to nuclear apocalypse and the AI lives on, watching the years pass without further contact. It's a quietly affecting book that moves at a deliberate pace with a gentle formalism at its core, always sticking to 3 horizontal panels on every page, reflecting the unchanging perspective of the AI itself. Sparrow's cartoony digital art has a pretty familiar look to it but he manages to express a lot of emotion within this rather rigid framework, even with human figures completely missing from the frame for large swaths of the book's second half. Quite nice.

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Cloud by Tom McHenry
Another rec from the best comics thread, this time topping HFC's list. This is really something. It's both totally amazing and utterly, deliberately exhausting. A bunch of slackers hang out, playing video games, vaping, and chatting - except the clever conceit of the comic is that none of them are actually conversing, merely carrying on their own monologues independent of one another, seldom seeking or getting a response, lost in their own self-centered reveries on politics, self-pity, self-mythologizing, video games, movies, culture, etc. It's wild because it looks so much like so many "funny animals hang out and get high" comics out there but it's up to something much more brutal in its way. And it's so dense: one of the best running gags is that every couple pages a new rando pops in with a quip and seamlessly joins the chattering gang, adding their own chatter to the mix. It's structured like a cumulative song - like "12 Days of Christmas" or something - with each new arrival triggering all the previous dudes to dutifully recite the next verse of their ongoing individual monologue, so with each new arrival the clutter becomes even more overwhelming. All these characters are such unpleasant caricatures that it's honestly tough to read at times just because there's *so much* banal and annoying dialogue on every page, but it's also often very funny and builds to some pretty hilarious crescendos a few times over its slim length. I was pretty tickled by a lot of the later content where there's literally characters who are just straight up quoting movies or reading random news headlines and Facebook posts aloud off their phone. Not entirely sure what to make of this but it's obviously the product of a very unique voice who's done an amazing job of capturing a certain strain of modern culture.

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What Are You Thinking About? by Anatola Howard
A pretty slight and mostly forgettable collection of super-short strips from this animator/cartoonist. I generally like her color art, which has touches of Richard Sala and Katie Skelly, and a very appealing color sensibility, but besides a few cute moments there's not much to any of it, and the sketchier b&w pieces generally glide right past me without effect. The whole thing feels like a collection of whatever loose bits Howard, who's better known as an animator I think, could pull together, and a lot of the strips look like they were originally formatted for other venues and awkwardly jammed into this book's square format.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Tue Jan 08, 2019 7:37 am

Wombatz wrote:hey i'm also reading a book by manu larcenet, le rapport de brodeck (in german, though). that is, i'm trying hard not to give up on it because it was such a well-chosen xmas present and i'd prefer to encourage similar efforts for the future


Haha I know the feeling, and I'm sadly not surprised to hear that about Larcenet's holocaust book. His idea of publishing his journal entries about how it's so difficult to be an artist do not indicate a massive amount of sensitivity/self-awareness.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Tue Jan 08, 2019 7:46 am

sevenarts wrote:Image
Cloud by Tom McHenry
Another rec from the best comics thread, this time topping HFC's list. This is really something. It's both totally amazing and utterly, deliberately exhausting. A bunch of slackers hang out, playing video games, vaping, and chatting - except the clever conceit of the comic is that none of them are actually conversing, merely carrying on their own monologues independent of one another, seldom seeking or getting a response, lost in their own self-centered reveries on politics, self-pity, self-mythologizing, video games, movies, culture, etc. It's wild because it looks so much like so many "funny animals hang out and get high" comics out there but it's up to something much more brutal in its way. And it's so dense: one of the best running gags is that every couple pages a new rando pops in with a quip and seamlessly joins the chattering gang, adding their own chatter to the mix. It's structured like a cumulative song - like "12 Days of Christmas" or something - with each new arrival triggering all the previous dudes to dutifully recite the next verse of their ongoing individual monologue, so with each new arrival the clutter becomes even more overwhelming. All these characters are such unpleasant caricatures that it's honestly tough to read at times just because there's *so much* banal and annoying dialogue on every page, but it's also often very funny and builds to some pretty hilarious crescendos a few times over its slim length. I was pretty tickled by a lot of the later content where there's literally characters who are just straight up quoting movies or reading random news headlines and Facebook posts aloud off their phone. Not entirely sure what to make of this but it's obviously the product of a very unique voice who's done an amazing job of capturing a certain strain of modern culture.


Awwww yeah glad you liked (?) it. Exhausting is right but to me it has everything going for it. A topical, universal, original and technically ambitious conceit, executed perfectly, genuinely entertaining to read. I'm interested that you point out how banal and annoying the dialogue is, and that McHenry calls them all "assholes" because I guess although I agree with that, I do also think they're not just annoying - they're also sometimes perceptive and original and saying things that are valuable, but in an annoying way, which accounts for a lot of my personal twitter experience. The soul-crushing quality of Cloud and of the discourse itself is not that everyone's necessarily an idiot but that they're just not listening and talking to each other like they're in the same room.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Wed Jan 09, 2019 5:57 pm

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Jordan Crane – The Clouds Above
Kind of a puff piece from Jordan Crane in the vein of Where the Wild Things Are. In this story, a boy and his talking cat skip school and take a staircase up to the clouds, where they make friends with a fluffy white cloud and get chased by some angry stormclouds. It’s fine for kids, and very quick at one panel per page, but still manages to outstay its welcome a bit.


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Max Riffner – The Crippler's Son
This is a resolutely unflashy 50pg drama which I think was originally the final piece for a comics art course. Riffner’s story follows a young guy brought up by his grandmother and supported by his brother, a journeyman wrestler. The dude’s trying to make sense of his life and form meaningful relationships when his brother rolls back into town on tour. It’s a functional little short story with kind of a literary tone, very unlikely to set anyone’s world alight. Riffner’s art is pretty accomplished if it’s really his first work, but it also looks like the work of a million other cartoonists, probably most reminiscent of Dylan Horrocks.


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Osamu Tezuka – The Euphrates Tree
Sorry I couldn't find an image in English. This is another newly-translated entry from the endless back cat of the God of Manga, and my favourite Tezuka I’ve read in a while. Genre-wise it’s probably a sci-fi thriller, but more along the relatively restrained lines of MW than Ambassador Magma. In this book, three students catch a ferry to a remote island, where they discover the locals and animals acting strangely amidst some unusual flora. Things develop pretty quickly, as with most Tezuka, but the pace is reined in to make a satisfying thriller that foregrounds environmental themes as well as the corruption of power and the nature of talent etc. Unfortunately, the art is a little more basic – technically very solid as always but none of the incredible imagery you get in stuff like Dororo.


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Max Andersson – The Excavation
Not my kind of thing. This is a cartoony gothic nightmare about a guy taking his girlfriend to meet his family, but finding that they're all insane and his Dad is Frankensteining a baby brother together. Plot is not important though – this is very explicitly dreamlike (I think actually adapted from Andersson's own dreams) with little consistency in time, space and motivation. The art is lots of heavy ugly slashed lines with the weight of a woodcut and cutesy cartoony corpse people like Tim Burton likes to draw. Is this what Johnny the Homicidal Maniac is like? It’s pretty much what I pictured.


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Nicole Claveloux – The Green Hand and Other Stories
The highlight of a weak week for me, this is a collection of the works of Nicole Claveloux, who made a number of short strips for Metal Hurlant back in the 70s. She has a fascinating visual style, dense with shadow, populated by doughy fleshy characters and full of psychedlic flourishes, looking like a unique fusion of Crumb, Corben, Wally Wood and Drew Friedman. The “and other stories” section in the back half of the book is occasionally disposable, often comprised of surreal one page gag strips and little psychosexual fugues, although there's lots of good stuff in there. The real jewel though is “The Green Hand,” a multi-part serial written by Edith Zha and illustrated by Claveloux, about a girl fleeing the cantankerous vulture she lives with to wander around a surreal hotel. Claveloux's art here is GORGEOUS, especially in its intense colour scheme of greens, pinks and yellows. Her compositions, particularly the architecture, statuary and shrubbery of the hotel are truly beautiful and singular. I think there's a really clear influence for Jim Woodring right here – going back it's impossible to ignore. The book is really worth checking out for this story alone, a genuine forgotten classic as far as I'm concerned.
Image
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Postby Wombatz » Thu Jan 10, 2019 2:52 am

also tried the claveloux recently, but didn't post as i didn't enjoy it ... this kind of entering a strange room where stuff lives and surrealism happens then out to the beach where nightmares haunt and surrealism happens but it's all connected to some freudian thing does nothing for me ... also i had an older german edition, not as crisp as i'm sure that new one is, so while the art was pretty great it also looked kinda dated ...
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Postby HotFingersClub » Thu Jan 10, 2019 7:09 am

I can definitely appreciate that response. It's not a book that seems to have a cohesive theory behind its surrealism, but it hangs together okay for me and as you may have gathered I love the art
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Postby sevenarts » Thu Jan 10, 2019 9:50 pm

HotFingersClub wrote:
sevenarts wrote:Image
Cloud by Tom McHenry
Another rec from the best comics thread, this time topping HFC's list. This is really something. It's both totally amazing and utterly, deliberately exhausting. A bunch of slackers hang out, playing video games, vaping, and chatting - except the clever conceit of the comic is that none of them are actually conversing, merely carrying on their own monologues independent of one another, seldom seeking or getting a response, lost in their own self-centered reveries on politics, self-pity, self-mythologizing, video games, movies, culture, etc. It's wild because it looks so much like so many "funny animals hang out and get high" comics out there but it's up to something much more brutal in its way. And it's so dense: one of the best running gags is that every couple pages a new rando pops in with a quip and seamlessly joins the chattering gang, adding their own chatter to the mix. It's structured like a cumulative song - like "12 Days of Christmas" or something - with each new arrival triggering all the previous dudes to dutifully recite the next verse of their ongoing individual monologue, so with each new arrival the clutter becomes even more overwhelming. All these characters are such unpleasant caricatures that it's honestly tough to read at times just because there's *so much* banal and annoying dialogue on every page, but it's also often very funny and builds to some pretty hilarious crescendos a few times over its slim length. I was pretty tickled by a lot of the later content where there's literally characters who are just straight up quoting movies or reading random news headlines and Facebook posts aloud off their phone. Not entirely sure what to make of this but it's obviously the product of a very unique voice who's done an amazing job of capturing a certain strain of modern culture.


Awwww yeah glad you liked (?) it. Exhausting is right but to me it has everything going for it. A topical, universal, original and technically ambitious conceit, executed perfectly, genuinely entertaining to read. I'm interested that you point out how banal and annoying the dialogue is, and that McHenry calls them all "assholes" because I guess although I agree with that, I do also think they're not just annoying - they're also sometimes perceptive and original and saying things that are valuable, but in an annoying way, which accounts for a lot of my personal twitter experience. The soul-crushing quality of Cloud and of the discourse itself is not that everyone's necessarily an idiot but that they're just not listening and talking to each other like they're in the same room.


I definitely DID like it. It's funny and subtly inventive and I'm really impressed by how it takes a format that seems familiar on the surface and quietly goes somewhere deeper with it. I think you have a point that there are things that are profound or real buried within the clamor, and that's part of the point of the book - this kind of discourse tends to drown out anything meaningful amidst all the noise and disconnection. That said, I think some of my more conflicted feelings about it come from just how hard it is to spend this much time stuck in the middle of all those disconnected words, it gets kind of claustrophobic. It's almost too successful at what it's trying to portray, for me at least, because I find the characters so distasteful. It's like being stuck at a party with a bunch of Twitter bots come alive.
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Postby Wombatz » Fri Jan 11, 2019 3:21 am

christmas for the boys:

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for my 12-year old i got Jeff Lemire's Nobody (because we had just read Wells' Invisible Man). very good read, very nice drawings, very pretty book, thumbs up from the boy ... i must say i was disappointed that lemire completely skips the topic of invisibility, its possibilities and temptations, it's just another story of a stranger and some village people, thus the point of the original story is lost ... so very light but still kind of satisfying (and perfect for the purpose).

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and the first volume of Professor Bell by Joann Sfar (doesn't look like this exists in english). that was more difficult ... speaking of lost points, this has the pointed kind of pointlessness one often meets in these circles. it's like Donjon without the humor. underwhelming to read because the story doesn't build, but then the scenes stay with you ... i would definitely read another couple of volumes.

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speaking of those circles, for my 9-year old i got Mickey's Craziest Adventures by Lewis Trondheim and Keramidas. obscenely overpriced but still a joy. it's having its cake and eating it, as it feels like proper mickey and donald and politely deconstructs them at the same time. not much of a story, but a supposedly found collection of motley pages that still hang together, like sunday strips with mild punchlines in the last panels, and lots of detail that rewards repeated reverie. nice.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Fri Jan 11, 2019 5:17 am

That's a nice selection. I think The Nobody is probably my favourite Lemire although I've never liked his stuff that much

Still never read any Sfar but he's pretty big in Euro circles right? Didn't he make an animated film? Worth checking out you think?
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Postby Wombatz » Fri Jan 11, 2019 6:29 am

i've never been tempted to read The Rabbi's Cat, even though the library has it. probably because it looks like his Chagall in Russia, which they also have, and i hate chagall with some vengeance. the comics (and the cat film) might all be great though, for all that i know. maybe i should try them ... but somehow i suspect lethal doses of kitsch ...
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Postby HotFingersClub » Thu Jan 24, 2019 8:10 am

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Mickey Zachilli, Sophia Foster-Dimino & Cathy G. Johnson – Lovers Only
A small anthology of high school romance comix from three very talented creators including current thread darling Sophia Foster-Dimino in an early appearance. The three stories are very tonally similar, all dealing more with the insecurities, fear and internal conflict of the lovers rather than any actual romance. They're distinguishable mainly by the art styles. Foster-Dimino (above) has a rounded, bubbly look, similar to what she's doing now and also a lot like Michael DeForge. Zachilli is scratchy and energetic like outsider manga, and Johnson (who was new to me) kind of combines both styles in a gorgeous wash of textures. I liked her story the best here: it's definitely the most formally inventive and impressionistic of the segments. I'll have to check out more of her work.

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Manuele Fior – The Interview
Not to re-litigate an old debate but having finally caught up with this I think I liked it about the same as 5KKMPS i.e. very much. This is about a psychologist who, in the midst of the breakdown of his marriage, encounters a young patient claiming to have psychic powers and then what seems to be an alien craft in the countryside. It moves at a strange, languid pace, with the two central lovers seeming particularly detached and confused. The moody noirish art is totally gorgeous again – Fior has a spectacular gift for composition, flow and atmosphere that really elevates his simple figures. I agree that the coda kind of detracts from the main story.

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Jack Teagle – The Jungle
Another short colour comic from the guy who did The Unmentionables from Retrofit a few years back. This similarly feels pretty weak, or just a little puff of nothing at best, following a guy and his humanoid cat friend as they wander the jungle. It really stretches out the steps to its single toothless punchline, at which point you will probably wonder why you bothered.

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Lillie Carre – The Lagoon
This was pretty decent – a small but well-formed story of a family living near a swamp and haunted by their relationship with a lagoon monster whose song lures people into the water. Carre uses this simple fable to explore infidelity and desire in some interesting ways and the art is cool too – kind of a miniaturist take on Charles Burns with its heavy palette of damp shadows. The familial relationships are beautifully drawn.

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Bernard Seret & Julien Sole – The Little Book of Knowledge: Sharks
The vaguely Euro trappings and vibe of the art tricked me into thinking I was going to read some kind of Blutch-esque personal essay but no it turns out this is just a factual book about sharks. I liked it! The tone is resolutely educational to the extent that it often seems pretty dry, just like reading any other textbook, but I think Sole's art elevates this to something that's genuinely just a pleasure to look at. I like how it's not remotely cartoony or even humorous like most of these edu-comics tend to be – it's just facts about sharks. And I'm not saying I'm a shark expert, but I think it goes pretty in-depth actually.
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