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 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.

Image
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:

Image
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:
Image
... 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

Image
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

Image
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.


Image
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:

Image

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).

Image

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.

Image

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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Postby HotFingersClub » Thu Jan 24, 2019 11:01 am

Hmm I always thought The Interview predated 5KKMPS but apparently it's the other way around. Even though I like both books that seems like a promising trajectory
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Postby Wombatz » Fri Jan 25, 2019 2:42 am

he already has another one out (plus a collection of stories), and while i must admit i haven't read it because HERE BE SPOILERS at first glance it's fully back in arthouse comics mode ... it's called the orsay variations, and i think i hate stuff about art being a special realm for all the good in mankind even more than stuff about life being inherently poetic ... you may have no such prejudices, still i'm afraid the promise of the trajectory you mention is not fulfilled :|

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Postby sevenarts » Fri Jan 25, 2019 6:42 am

I'm not going to pre-judge more Fior - haven't read that short story book or the new GN yet but The Interview was definitely a promising step from the already just-plain-beautiful first book.

Glad you liked Lovers Only HFC. That was where I first saw Foster-Dimino's work and I have so much affection for her story there, such a bittersweet little snapshot. The second issue was good too, trading out Johnson for a great Carta Monir story. Johnson's never really blown me away but she's definitely solid and talented, her book Gorgeous was pretty good and worth a look if you want more of her.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Thu Jan 31, 2019 8:49 am

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Tommi Parrish – The Lie and How We Told It
This was very good in a promising debut kind of a way. A small, slow story, told beat by beat, of two old friends running into each other after drifting out of touch for many years, and going for a drink, reflecting on what's changed and what's stayed the same. The round, simple figures and textures reminded me of lots of current alt-comix babes: Nick Drnaso, Eleanor Davis, Tara Booth etc. but Parrish's painted colours are quite striking and beautiful, and I like the way their character's blank faces sometimes bug out in extreme emotive displays. I think for me it took the decompression a little far – I felt like there wasn't a huge amount of ground covered in 100+ pages, but I'm definitely excited to see what Parrish does next.

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Jesse Jacobs – Crawl Space
I've been jonesing for this ever since it came out two years ago, just waiting for it to get cheap enough to justify. Those rainbow candycane stripes are catnip to me. I've always loved Jacobs' hyper-stylised, hyper-detailed precise hallucinations, but just felt each time that the story didn't quite take flight in the same way, and although I think this is his best book, it suffers from the same problem in a way that Jacobs has actually managed to turn to his advantage. It opens with two kids who have discovered a portal to a rainbow dimension in a basement washer/dryer setup, and from the initial vibe of mind-expanding exploration, things gradually get slightly too intense as the kids go deeper into the new world, and other less responsible people start to find out about the portal. What I thought I wanted from this was a blitzkrieg of insane visuals and concepts, so was initially disappointed that Jacobs was tethering his story to a familiar structure and more prosaic concerns, but actually I think it kind of works, and is much more effective than the cosmic opera of By This Shall You Know Him. For me it's an obvious but great analogy to my early experiences in the world of psychedelics – I definitely relate to the stuff about wanting to explore strange new territories, the compulsion to share it with your friends and the disappointment when your good intentions are subverted by the drive to get fucked up and fuck shit up. As always with Jacobs there's the slight feeling that it's not quite as smart as you want it to be – the sections where he explains his system of alternate dimensions are weirdly prosaic – but it doesn't matter because this is good and beautiful and true.

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Sarah Horrocks – The Bacchae
On the other hand here's something way too smart for me: the first issue of Horrocks' adaptation of Euripedes' tragedy, picked up last year at Thought Bubble. It's again pretty decompressed – we only get a couple of scenes in this first issue, but I felt like I could follow it more easily than expected in the dialogue scenes, this despite Horrocks' abstract visuals that mostly disregard sequential image flow and flood you with a montage of zooms in and out of bodies and landscapes. There's definite momentum here, maybe imparted from the source text: characters' motivations seem strong and clear despite and there's an ominous sense to the way the presence of Dionysus and his new religion hang over the city, with flashes of light seen against the sky at night. It's definitely Horrocks's best-looking book yet, the Sienkiewiczian scratchiness of Goro has been smoothed out and enriched by deeply alien coloured paints and costume design. I also like how Horrocks is up on her soapbox about how more people should read Andrea Pazienza – one of the main characters here is incongruously “played” by Zanardi in an act of pure homage, and looking back I can really see the poisonous influence of Zanardi on Goro especially. This was my favourite Horrocks yet.

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Liam Cobb – The Inspector
:D :D :D
As expected I think you guys need to let your hair down a little and start appreciating the adventures of the Michelin Man because this fuckin rules and I definitely would have put it near the top of my 2018 list if I had read it in time. It's hilarious, with gorgeous colours, architecture and fake haute cuisine dishes, and there are thrills and suspense at the end. I literally don't understand what more you could want out of a comic. I was 100% delighted throughout, five bloody stars.
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Postby sevenarts » Thu Jan 31, 2019 9:37 pm

That's quite a cool batch of comics, and great reviews as ever. I definitely saw that Parrish book as way more than a promising debut - while you're right that not much necessarily "happens" I feel like Parrish's formalist bent makes it so much deeper and richer than it would have been otherwise - something about the way they play with different textures and styles and subtle shifts in the look of things makes this hit hard far beyond its surface story would suggest.

I liked Bacchae too, Horrocks in color is always amazing and the framework here makes this way more actually legible than The Leopard was. Still think Goro is her best to date, and I'm excited for the conclusion - she just released a 60-page final issue.

And The Inspector IS a joy, don't get me wrong. I guess I'm just not sure what to make of Cobb as a whole anymore since he works in so many different modes and sometimes seems deadly serious, other times like he's just playing a joke on everyone.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Tue Feb 05, 2019 5:31 am

With the Parrish my issue - minimal as it was - wasn't exactly that not much happens; I have no problem with books like that. It was more that the formalism and the psychological territory covered didn't quite justify the length of the story - it felt slightly light on content for a full length GN and while I enjoyed the read I don't think it really hit me where it hurts. Nothing wrong with that though! I'm definitely not expecting a debut book to hit the highs of someone like Kevin Huizenga and I'm really psyched to see Parrish's next move
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Postby HotFingersClub » Tue Feb 05, 2019 5:31 am

Cobb contains multitudes
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