Alternative/independent comics thread

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

Postby HotFingersClub » Thu Apr 18, 2019 7:07 am

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Raymond Briggs – Fungus the Bogeyman
I've recently been revisiting a select few classics from childhood and was prompted to take another look at this, which was formative for me when I was very small – something to do with the downbeat Englishness of it, the joy taken in slime and being ugly. Going back, it's even more beautiful than I remember it, with the world of these sturdy green figures in WWI fashions rendered with such a complete imaginative conjuring and a thick comforting miasma over everything. Also I realised for the first time that this book is the reason I found Shrek so unnerving when I was a kid. There was definitely some kind of connection in my mind between these two characters, and Shrek must have subconsciously hit me like a very intense, Disneyfied version of Fungus, like the volume had been turned up way too loud.

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Ho Che Anderson – Scream Queen
This is my first Anderson, just found randomly online and clearly a minor work. It reminded me of the shadowy early works of Bendis and Hickman, taken to another degree of abstraction and with a staticky hiss to the line. The tale is blown-out, noirish with a paranormal edge, following a mysterious woman as she travels through the desert to take revenge on a man. It's not bad but probably not worth seeking out.

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K. C. Green – Fuck-Off
One of my favourite cartoonists K. C. Green just started up a new instagram account for a series of one-panel New Yorker parodies and I wanted to bring it up for anyone else who follows his work. I've yet to get a handle on what exactly he's doing here but it has a fun cut-up quality to the jokes, which seem to land just outside comprehensible punchlines like Wally Gropius but I actually enjoy these for some reason. It definitely helps that Green's cartooning is so naturally funny. His characters and compositions are so cute and goofy that every panel is enjoyable purely on those merits.

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Jon McNaught – Kingdom
This is a really beautiful Nobrow production from last year, definitely cracking my revised top 20 if not the top 10. It's primarily a mood piece, exquisitely summoning a boring caravan holiday for a small British family. It's full of beautiful exercises in montage and tone, using single colours and an incredible eye for visual detail to really bring you to a physical place better than anything I've read in a long time. The drama here is very very quiet but the mood is so loud. Highly recommended.
Last edited by HotFingersClub on Tue Apr 23, 2019 7:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby sevenarts » Mon Apr 22, 2019 9:10 pm

Damn, Kingdom looks great.


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Vision Part 1 by Julia Gfrorer
Gfrorer's minicomics rarely disappoint, and here's another good one, the first half of a two-part story though as promised it does hold up well on its own too. Within a tight, unrelenting 9-panel grid, she plays out a psychological horror melodrama about a woman caring for her sickly sister-in-law, and simultaneously carrying out a one-sided romance with a talking mirror. Creepy and unsettling as ever, with this suffocating ambience hanging over everything, reinforcing the themes of abuse, repression, and exploitation.

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Maids #1 by Katie Skelly
New serial about the infamous Papin sisters, the murderous maids who have inspired countless pop culture takes, notably Chabrol's amazing La Ceremonie. This first issue is pretty short and low-key, just an introduction. Skelly's feel for casually searing imagery is already evident - like the opening images of a bloody eyeball, or the montage of memories from Lea's conflicted past - but those less fanatical about Skelly than me will certainly be better off waiting for the collected edition.

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Frontier #18 by Tiffany Ford
HFC was totally right on this one - very slight and unsatisfying. Ford's sketchbook fragments from her honeymoon trip don't really add up to much. Though it can be interesting to see an artist's rawest work I didn't feel like I got anything out of this. In the interview at the end, when asked about what kind of TV she'd program if she had full control, Ford says she'd opt for something "easy-peasy" to relax to, so I guess this issue makes sense in that context. In the zine Ryan Sands published recently about Youth In Decline, he talks about how he started experimenting with the format of Frontier, including more art showcases, photos, etc. after establishing the series' rep with the earlier more comics-centric issues. While I get the urge to stretch out, and it's cool he's showcasing exactly who and what he wants to, I really miss when an issue of this would be a compact, satisfying 20+ page story.

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When I Arrived At the Castle by Emily Carroll
New, astounding sensual horror from one of the masters of the form. This bloody and dreamlike little gem follows a cat girl as she enters the castle lair of a vampire countess, resulting in a tense showdown. Carroll playfully tears apart the simple narrative, shattering it like a mirror and letting each shard glint jaggedly page by page. It's about storytelling as much as anything - the narration shifts unpredictably, text stories are intercut with the comics, and different story possibilities are presented and discarded as though Carroll is sifting through all the folkloric vampire tales right on the page, toying with all the different paths and twists her story might take. Best of all it's gorgeous - sexy, horrifying, dripping with bright red blood. The page layouts often eschew panels, as usual in Caroll's work, instead opting for fluid collages and amazing full-page posters. There's a sense of voyeurism throughout, best seen in the keyhole peeping sequence that starts out alluring and quickly shifts to convey the sense of having seen something awful and inexplicable that never should have been seen.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Tue Apr 23, 2019 9:28 am

Re the Frontier series I think it’s fair enough to experiment with different styles and forms, and I loved being introduced to Tatsuro Kiuchi’s work even though it wasn’t comix. On the other hand, his stuff looked like it took more than 30 seconds to conceive of and draw, so I don’t mind paying for it even if it’s a quick read.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Tue Apr 23, 2019 9:28 am

Can't wait to get my hands on that Carroll
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Postby sevenarts » Tue Apr 23, 2019 9:18 pm

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The Leopard Vol. 3 by Sarah Horrocks
This familial horror/melodrama concludes with its most abstract issue yet. It's mostly silent (except for all the screams) and the bulk of the issue is dedicated to a lengthy, bloody chase sequence set against flat color fields and geometrically fragmented page layouts. It's intense and gory, with Horrocks striking a really interesting balance between abstraction and actually showing what's happening in the action sequence. As a whole this was probably Horrocks' most narratively abstract work, but its garish, unsettling aesthetic makes it powerful even when it's incomprehensible.

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Pierrot Alterations by C.F.
Interesting new art object from C.F., as covered by Wombatz recently too. I say art object purposefully because it's certainly a gorgeous piece of work: distinctive hexagonal pages with chopped off corners, sewn binding, and some holes actually cut into the interior pages so that parts of other pages will show through. Quite beautiful just to hold and leaf through. The first half is a very loose story with sickly looking computer coloring. Not quite C.F.'s best, lacking the magic of Powr Mastrs or some of his minis, but it has its moments - I quite like the way one of these dudes keeps telling his buddies, "hey guys look at this!" like he's gonna show off a dumb card trick and then doing something impossible like levitating a flower or folding up his body like oragami. The second half gradually transitions, through those windows in the pages, into sketchbook pages, some of which are really beautiful and mysterious. Agreed with Wombatz that this isn't really peak C.F. but it's neat.

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Billie the Bee by Mary Fleener
Fleener was one of the greats of 90s alt comics, an anthology mainstay whose short stories, collected as Life of the Party, were bursting with energy, vitality, humor, and jaw-dropping imagery that verged from cartoony clarity to bursts of cubist semi-abstraction. She's been less than visible for a long time now, but she hasn't stopped making comics - since dropping out of the proper comics scene she's dedicated herself to doing strips for local California newspapers. I read a bunch of those in her self-published collections, and they maintained her overall sensibility while focusing topically on very local and intimate concerns - local art and crafts scenes, the weather, the environment, local politics, neighborhood sights and sounds. Reading those strips is an opportunity to see a master cartoonist at work in a corner of the medium that usually goes ignored, but that gets back to the very roots of what comics used to be.

Some of that sensibility carries over into Fleener's new graphic novel, her return to public visibility after 20+ years away, and her first actual GN ever. It's the story of a plucky bee who makes friends with a coyote, a rattlesnake, and some turtles. It is... a pretty damn weird book, truth be told, and it's hard to know exactly what to make of it. Those expecting more work of the caliber and style from Life of the Party will certainly be disappointed, but it's not without its own oddball charm. Like her local newspaper strips, this story feels very small-scale, low-stakes, and intimate - concerned with micro-fluctuations in a small corner of a local environment, disruptions caused by humans interfering with animals or introducing unexpected predators into delicate ecosystems. After all these years, Fleener's style is still unmistakeable, and it's so appealing - intricately hatched landscapes and realistically rendered wild animals give way to more cartoony figures, or her signature bursts of cubist overload, generally reserved for scenes of intense distress or violence, but also for brief flurries of joy or musical expression. All these different art styles jut up against one another, and the effect is really exciting. Storywise I have to admit I find it less compelling. It's obvious Fleener is aiming for an environmentalist fable, packed with real nature facts in footnotes and very much grounded in her concern for small-scale local problems on the level of animals being illegally dumped in public parks. With its mix of deliberately corny humor, joyful visual experimentation, and gentle polemics, it's an admirable and interesting book but it doesn't quite all hang together, and it certainly isn't as searing and unforgettable as Fleener's best past work. Still, nice to see her back in the spotlight even if I sense that this book, despite being on Fantagraphics, is going to be almost as overlooked as her newspaper strips.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Thu May 09, 2019 9:10 am

Finally had a chance to catch up on some reading.

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John Broadley – Smoke Signal 30: Wild for Adventure
I stopped by Desert Island in Brooklyn a few weeks ago on a trip to New York and it turns out they produce their own quarterly anthology in broadsheet newspaper format. Previously it's been a bunch of different artists in each issue, but with #30 they moved to a monograph format like Frontier, and the whole first issue was given to John Broadley, who's an English artist but new to me. He has an unusual style, somewhere between Emma Rendel and a deck of tarot cards, both in terms of his dense, flat art, bristling with symbols, and the free association of his narratives, which jump between images like Sasaki Maki's Ding Dong Circus, with connections based on a rhyme or a feeling or a turn of phrase. It's not the most satisfying reading experience but it looks very cool and – considering it's a free handout at the shop – it's incredibly generous with the content. Almost 40 huge pages absolutely bursting at the margins with artwork.


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Marion Fayolle – Smoke Signal 31
And this is the most recent issue; same format but a very different approach. Marion Foyelle is a French artist doing enigmatic paintings in a flat illustrative style, often surreally deconstructing sex and human mating rituals. It's appealing to the eye and works in a similar mode to some of those early Sex Fantasy issues, but doesn't develop in the same way Sophia Foster-Dimino has. The little visual jokes pop up and fall away without leaving much impression. Again, I didn't exactly love it, but it's very cool that Desert Island is showcasing these interesting artists and being so generous in distributing their work. Definitely worth looking in if you're in the neighbourhood.


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Manuele Fior – Blackbird Days
I think I liked this a little more than you guys but agree that it's probably the weakest of his books. My enjoyment seems to come down to a higher tolerance for the Euro drama trappings of some of the stories, like the first one with the kid going missing and the second one with the grumpy teacher in Paris, both of those I thought were reasonably effective if underdeveloped. The title story set in the mine was definitely the strongest, and seems to provide the raison d'etre of the whole collection, which otherwise reads like an odds and ends collection capitalising on Fior's recent high profile.


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Joe Casey & Benjamin Marra – Jesusfreak
Casey has a short essay in the back of this book about how it was written to showcase the limitless possibilities and imaginative potential of comics, which unfortunately just serves to highlight the paucity of what he and Marra have come up with here. Especially after being exposed to the huge range of subjects and styles that get highlighted in this thread, the high concept of “what if Jesus was Bruce Lee” seems almost laughably pedestrian, like a joke DVD case that you'd see in the background of a better comic. It's weirdly written, with torrents of that Casey exposition that doesn't seem to go anywhere, and moves at a sluggish pace that reflects the backwater Bible stories that it's loosely based on. Marra does a decent job of emulating that Deadly Hands of Kung Fu style but his work as always lacks that elegance or any sense of considered design.


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Anne Simon – The Song of Aglaia
Now this has a lot more of that good “potential of comics” shit: a story that follows the life of Aglaia, a kind of humanoid crocodile/water nymph who is cast out of her home, joins a circus and eventually becomes the new ruler of her kingdom. Bored and shiftless from the start, she eventually becomes as successful but even more corrupt than the tyrant she overthrew. It's deeply idiosyncratic, weird stuff: the scratchy linework and expressive cartooning looks a lot like Kate Beaton, but the story could have come from Angela Carter, with a lot of the same preoccupations: circuses, horses, female lust and fairytale, and an ambivalent attitude towards motherhood. You have to push a bit to stick with it sometimes – like Carter it skids all over the map without much of a sense of direction – but there's clearly a unique artistic voice at work.


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Megan Kelso – The Squirrel Mother
I think this is the third book from Kelso, released back in 2006 a few years after Artichoke Tales. It's a collection of short stories, usually vignettes following young women in the suburbs; oblique snapshots about growing up, plus a couple of random historical strips thrown in near the end. They're not bad albeit very low-key and sometimes difficult to follow. Kelso's art still lacks much personality for my tastes. Compared to the current vogue her work seems unusually bland.


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Nico Naranjo – The Toucan Patrol
Finally, this piece of fluff from Europe Comics, which I peeked into because of the cute sketchy art but which isn't offering much beyond that. A little kid is going on his first camping trip with his scout troop, but they're all horrible bullies and he needs to spend essentially the whole comic getting hazed by magical creatures in order to earn his woggle and get one over on the other kids. I think it's aiming for Lumberjanes but doesn't have the requisite level of self-awareness.
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Postby sevenarts » Thu May 09, 2019 4:20 pm

Nice, that Aglaia book looks real cool.

I love The Squirrel Mother. It was Kelso’s second book IIRC, predating Artichoke Tales by several years, and is in my mind still the best thing she’s done by some distance. I love the way her plain, frictionless style is offset by the understated melancholy of her stories about young women struggling against roles and boundaries being imposed upon them. So much goes unspoken but comes through from the mood of the book. And there’s a subtle sense of experimentation with the visualization of dance and music that’s really enjoyable. It’s all very unshowy and I can see how that could come across as simplistic but the way the emotions of her stories subtly bubble up was very affecting for me. Been many years since I first read this one but it’s stuck with me for all that time. I so wish Kelso was still doing a new collection of shorts of this caliber every few years.
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Postby sevenarts » Thu May 09, 2019 7:32 pm

New 2D Cloud Kickstarter is out:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2d ... e-universe

Pretty psyched for the Lale Westvind and Tommi Parrish books, lots of the rest looks interesting too.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Fri May 10, 2019 7:14 am

Oh wow that's a lot of interesting looking books. The tiers are a bit confusing though - 20 different levels each with up to 8 overlapping titles and virtually no preview information? Kind of a nightmare to work out how to maximise my pledge. That and the certainty that I'll get hit with a massive shipping fee at the end makes it hard to bother. Are you going for any of them sevenarts? Or are there any tiers which seem like particularly good buys?
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Postby sevenarts » Fri May 10, 2019 9:57 am

It’s definitely confusing and made worse by the fact that a lot of the tiers are actually for older books. The $99 pledge is what I did, which gets you their full actual 2019 slate (Lale Westvind, Tommi Parrish, Mirror Mirror 3, Kyung Me, Max Baitinger, Chou Yi, Tara Booth). Seems like a lot of cool stuff there even beyond the 2 names I’m obviously most interested in - MM3 looks really good.

All the other packages look like I already have a lot of the stuff I’d be interested in.
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Postby Wombatz » Tue May 14, 2019 11:32 am

luckily for backwoods little me the westvind and parrish books seem to have proper distribution (they're even on german amazon) ... so, 7arts beat me to it but i've finally read

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vision part 1 by julia gfrörer ... and it's amazing as almost always: even when her heroine just lies on the bed listening to her mirror talk, each panel holds a different perfect expression, little psychological details that make the historical/fairytale setting come alive. for all its moodiness, maybe this mini doesn't quite have that extra kick of strangeness of gfrörer's very best work ... between sexual urges, sickly relatives, sororial tensions, and big-ass mansions the parameters stay within conventional limits of suchlike stories, though told in a manner all her own. looking forward to see where the second volume takes it. speaking about sex and shame

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this is coccydynia by karneeleus (never heard of him, got it from domino). either a pretty angsty book about sex from somebody who's not sure about his orientation or aggression levels, or a clever exercise, quoting lots from sources, switching styles at lightning speed (pretty funny to bring picasso into this). if in the end this doesn't come off as sufficiently sincere for greater depth, it still has some great art (doodles into virtuosity) ... and more generally it's so gratifying how far we are from the dick jokes mentality of supposedly classic 80s minis today.

in other eclecticists i've read

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eightysix #1 (there's only the 1) by jason t. miles ... i don't have much by miles (a couple of minis and dead ringer, which is kind of amazing), but this is an outlier which comes across like a fragment from a superhero book, purposefully unsatisfying despite a clear theme of underlying homoeroticism/touchingly awkward attempts at misogynous conversation. i had to think long and hard about how much i like it or not, but in the end i think it's brilliant. it's not like marra at all, but strays into the territory for a few pages, and with a kind of poetry, an ambiguity (that marra only has (borrowed) in his american psycho drawings ... that's the only thing by him i really need) and warm-heartedness that makes it really different from similar genre homages. the image above has nothing to do with that though, just an awesome double spread with a futurist beating.

and finally, just because it's amazing, a cleaner fish on a stick for scrubbing the coral reefs drawn by my younger boy:

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Postby sevenarts » Tue May 14, 2019 5:05 pm

Hell yea Gfrorer. I've had a lot of great recent reading too....

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Hostage by Guy Delisle
I've been ambivalent about a lot of Delisle's work, but here's a case where he absolutely hits it out of the park. Taking the focus off of himself, he instead chronicles the story of Christophe Andre, an MSF humanitarian worker who was kidnapped from Russia by Chechens. The lengthy book is focused entirely on Christophe as he sits in a succession of tiny, empty rooms, handcuffed to the floor or to a radiator. The book moves at a deliberately slow pace, really evoking the experience by crawling through it day by day. Christophe meticulously tracks the days, trying to maintain his sense of time as all else gets robs from him, and days are differentiated only by little variances: one day he's allowed to roam his cell a little more than usual, or in one cell he manages to steal a couple of cloves of garlic to savor a flavor that's been unavailable to him, or he gets to share a cigarette with one of his captors. Delisle's plain, direct style serves the story very well, highlighting the boredom, loneliness, and desperation of this experience with his spare visuals. An excellent book, so clearly blowing away even the best of Delisle's travelogues that it suggests he should be telling other people's stories a lot more often than his own.

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Wet Moon by Sophie Campbell
A real goth slice-of-life epic, as recommended by HFC - this has been on my to-read list for a while but I'm glad he kept pushing this to the top. This is excellent stuff, following a cast of mostly queer, multi-ethnic characters, of differing body types, including disabled characters, as they... mostly just hang out, bicker, fall in and out of love with one another, explore their sexual identities, and occasionally brush up against the weird, supernatural, or just plain violent underbelly of their tiny Southern college town. It starts out a little slow, maybe, but after the first volume I quickly got addicted, getting into the rhythms of Campbell's writing and the richness of these characters. They're all so well-defined that there's hardly a throwaway character in the cast, and even the ones that are initially sketched out as annoyances or even possible villains start to get more depth the more they appear. That's why probably my favorite character is Natalie - the roommate of the main character, she initially seems a bit snooty, standoffish, unlikeable, but Campbell soon delves further into her inner life, her thoughts and personality, and she becomes a compelling character in her own right, not just a shallow antagonist for the main cast. This is warm, funny, bratty, but also often scary and violent and ugly, and the mix of tones is juggled masterfully throughout.

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Street Angel by Jim Rugg & Brian Maruca
The tongue-firmly-in-cheek chronicles of a homeless skateboarder girl who's also an unbeatable detective, brawler, and spy. Really fun, packed with parodies of old genre comics and their well-worn conventions, and great action sequences that Rugg always draws with obvious delight, and often truncates in hilarious fashion so they don't wear out their welcome. It could easily seem like a disposable bit of parodic fluff and sometimes it does, and that's OK - but as the series goes on, and they start spinning the character off into standalone oneshots, there's increasingly a focus on her status as a homeless girl with no parents. Street Angel's constant hunger is on the surface played for laughs but there's a deeper melancholy under the gags, as seen when one issue ends with a silent staredown after Street Angel fails to hide her dumpster-diving from a more well-off classmate. Another issue dispenses with the action and ninja hijinks entirely to focus on the character's quest to feed herself. It's always fun, and that's to be expected, but the nuance and emotion is a pleasant surprise that gives this way more depth than I had anticipated.

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Dotter of Her Father's Eyes by Mary & Bryan Talbot
A fascinating husband-and-wife collaboration, with Mary writing and Bryan drawing. It's a dense novella that places Mary's relationship with her father, a Joycean scholar, side by side with the life of James Joyce's daughter Lucia. It's really rich, with much left unsaid, hidden between the lines, for the reader to make their own connections and ideas. Lots here about angry, only sporadically engaged fathers, more obsessed with their own creativity and their work than with their children. And tons about gender and expectations, especially in the two very different eras represented by Mary and Lucia's stories - how much might have changed in the opportunities for women, in how they're expected to behave and what roles they might fill, and yet also where things hadn't changed so much after all. Bryan's art, so clean and clear and expressive, is a perfect complement to Mary's text, which encompasses both textbook-style captions and really well-honed dialogue. The mix of approaches is mirrored in the layouts, which change fluidly as the book shifts between passages of more historical reportage and more dramatic scenes. Great, great stuff, utterly unflinching - observe the dry, deadpan way that Mary recounts even her romance with Bryan and the way their family grew - and incredibly smart in its insights into gender, creativity, and parenthood. I also adore the moments when the couple exchange sarcastic notes in the margins, mostly Mary interjecting when Bryan's art gets a detail wrong.

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Sally Heathcote, Suffragette by Mary Talbot, Kate Charlesworth, & Bryan Talbot
The next collaboration between the Talbots saw Bryan taking more of a backseat role. Here, he provides layouts and letters, while illustrator Kate Charlesworth fills in the finished art. This is quite different from Dotter, a bit more of a dry historical novel, with lots of history presented in a straightforward way, surrounding a narrative that inserts a fictional suffragette into otherwise real history. It's quite good in a very different way, though. On its surface it seems like a pretty straightforward recounting of the women's suffrage movement in the UK, walking through the ongoing struggles between that movement and various government figures, as well as the internal strife within the movement, largely between those fighting peacefully and those advocating for more radical means. What's sneaky about it is the way it presents Sally as a very likeable audience surrogate, a young maid who gets caught up in the suffrage movement due to her association with her employers, and then gradually shows her being radicalized, eventually climaxing with a rather incredible sequence in which she and a couple of other young women bomb the empty country home of a government official. Charlesworth's art is lovely throughout, richly textured, largely black and white with colors judiciously dotted throughout (notably the protagonist's bright orange hair). The bombing sequence stands out with its deep black shadows and primary colors - appropriately inspired by David Lloyd on V For Vendetta - and the way it shows the girls laughing and joking and stumbling in their pretty dresses as they commit their terrorism. It's an interesting book because of that tension between its straightforward historical tone and the way it explores the theme of terrorism, in many ways making a case for property destruction as a driver of social change. A quite radical book in the disguise of a conservative genre.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Thu May 16, 2019 6:26 am

Great post - I love all of those books apart from Sally Heathcote, which I haven't read. I was pretty convinced you'd like Wet Moon but wasn't sure if my experience of Hostage would translate - I think I read it all in one go late at night and it was a very intense and stressful experience not knowing how the whole thing turned out and whether he was going to have to stay there for weeks, months or years.

Street Angel is another old favourite. I loved the original miniseries years ago and I'm just catching up with the sequels now. Afrodisiac by the same creative team is also very good if you haven't read it yet.
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Postby Wombatz » Fri May 17, 2019 4:27 am

two great ones:

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wet shape in the dark by jon chandler. iirc 7arts had friendly words about this, which probably tells you more than me as an avowed fanboy being awed. this is a super consistent collection that reads and feels like a book of short stories in the literary tradition, united by the mechanics/logics of the author's vision: the way he's worldbuilding but dropping the exposition so we just get strange glimpses of the complex rules of that world, the constant underlying confrontation especially between the male figures who're like pulp bullies but at the same time very theatrical, reciting nicely wrought battle dialog in front of a barely sketched backdrop. intense throughout! (and while it makes no sense to compare the two, i think of chandler and gfrörer as the absolute best in a yet to be defined mini comic as short story genre ... (gfrörer seemingly more into late 19th century pulp as the fundament for her worldbuilding).)

and then, i finally own

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illegal batman by ed pinsent! (and if you don't, you can too, thanks to a 2017 reprint still available from the author!) ... probably i don't have to say anything because this is a verified classic? anyway, what struck me on this reading (i previously had a probably illegal illegal batman in the form of a scrambled pdf) is that usually in indie homages to superheroes the world becomes smaller, explorations of the superhero as private person/projection, but here it doesn't, it's a veritable christmas tale (without the christmas) of a batman story; and also how wonderful the character design is, adding the backbone to a fuzzy tale: this bat is a bit of a waverer, but resigned that good will win out in the end. (so what can i possibly read after these two? i'll probably read the mister miracle trade, which should be even better without the wait between issues and on paper ... then what could i possibly read after that?)
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Postby sevenarts » Sun May 19, 2019 8:17 pm

Somehow I've never read Illegal Batman! I need to fix that soon, wonder if it's as good as Josh Simmons' version.

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Mister Morgen by Igor Hofbauer
Another thread favorite I've checked out now. This Croatian artist presents a surreal nightmare world full of oft-inscrutable horrors. The art recalls Soviet propaganda posters, and there's a heavy air of state surveillance over everything here: people always being rounded up, funnelled into pointless lines, always sinister eyes watching for any small deviation from the program. The book is composed of fragments of varying length and narrative sense - some are brief bursts of heavily symbolic horror, others have somewhat coherent noirish narratives. Small bits of it remind me of a lot of things - David Lynch, Velvet Glove-era Dan Clowes, Helge Reumann - but it's also pretty damn unique as a whole. Dark, unsettling, politically ferocious, just really special.

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Sobek by James Stokoe
The clear highlight of Short Box's recent batch, which is admittedly not saying much but this is quite fun on its own merits too. Stokoe is always a treat, and here he delivers a proper issue-length nutso fantasy about a crocodile god roused from his rest to punish a rival god for hassling his followers. It's really funny and of course absolutely gorgeous, with Stokoe absolutely outdoing himself in the level of detail and the brilliant colors, especially with some of the giant spreads. Kinda reminds me of something Geof Darrow would do, but more fun than, say, Shaolin Cowboy has been in forever. Makes me wish Stokoe would return to regular issues of Orc Stain.

I was gonna talk about the rest of the recent Short Box batch too, but there's honestly not much point. Visiting (Alivia Horsley) and Two of Us (Jessi Zabarsky) are cutesy kidsy sweet nothings, Boogsy (Michelle Kwon) is a not bad little dark comedy, and Resort on Caelum (Wren McDonald) is a pretty generic sci-fi short with a weirdly abrupt non-ending. Pretty sure Boogsy is the only one I'll remember just because the concept is so memorably gross and weird, the others I've basically forgotten already. I know HFC had similar points about the last batch, which I thought was enjoyable enough despite most of the books being more about style than substance; this batch is WAY more disappointing.
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sevenarts
 
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Postby Wombatz » Mon May 20, 2019 2:05 am

sevenarts wrote:Somehow I've never read Illegal Batman! I need to fix that soon, wonder if it's as good as Josh Simmons' version.

i must admit i don't like simmons' version that much (but then i got my simmons fandom all wrong) ... the recent one i thought was really boring, as batman being quasi married to the joker has been a recurring topic of the proper series (maybe since moench?) ... but even in his much better first story, for me simmons didn't add anything to the bat giving in to his violent impulses ... felt i had read it all more thrillingly before (or at least the stakes are higher when it's the 'real' character)

(i want that stokoe book)
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Wombatz
 
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