Alternative/independent comics thread

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

Postby sevenarts » Wed Dec 06, 2017 4:46 pm

Yea, Drifting Classroom is pretty incredible too. Ito and Umezu just seem like they have very different interests and ideas about horror.
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Postby sevenarts » Wed Dec 06, 2017 5:12 pm

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Industrial Revolution & World War by Shintaro Kago
Warring societies of hamsters and crickets do battle by scavenging body parts from the feral humans they dig up, and turning the carcasses into tanks and construction equipment to build their cities. This isn't really much like the more formalist, boundary-pushing stories that first made Kago infamous, except that it shares those stories' depiction of a cruel, nonsensical world where the usual structures and social niceties either don't apply or are turned into farce. Kago's precise, architectural-like drawing makes the grotesque imagery of this story - which is totally silent but always very clear in its ideas - even more unsettling because there's such absolute clarity about it.

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Day of the Flying Head #1 by Shintaro Kago
If anything this makes Kago's intent for social parody even more apparent, as industrial waste, dumped in rivers and winding its way into the food supply from there, triggers a disease in which people's heads separate from their bodies, trailing all internal organs like a tail, and become aggressive and violent. It's another silent story with the emphasis squarely on Kago's wild and gory images. This one is the first issue of what's going to be a 4-issue series. Both of these books are published by the Italian Hollow Press, and it's great to see at least somebody making Kago's work available in the West, even though it's still baffling to me that nobody ever did a proper English collection of the stories like Abstraction where he really plays with form, because there's nothing else in comics like those.

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Scorched Earth by Tom Van Deusen
Absolutely hilarious, willfully nasty comics loosely purporting to be autobiographical but presumably - and hopefully - really aren't. Here's an artist who very much exists within the tradition of 80s/90s alt "guy" comics, like Noah Van Sciver who I've talked some shit about recently, but who manages to avoid seeming like he's disappearing up his own ass just by being a really incredible comedic writer whose characters, however caricatured they are, actually feel like they have a core of truth to them. Here, his stand-in Tom searches for easy sex on internet dating sites while spewing an absolutely astonishing variety of horrible ideas at every opportunity. It's over-the-top, unrelentingly cynical, and really really funny.

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Showtime by Antoine Cosse
Interesting new GN from Cosse, his follow-up to Mutiny Bay. Like that one, this is dreamlike and odd, as much about how the story's told as what it's about. Here, layers of artifice pile up separating readers from the story of a mysterious magician who disappeared years ago after a trick had some unintended consequences, and who's now about to stage a comeback. Cosse hides the real story behind misdirection and framing stories within framing stories, creating really neat effects with inset panels that take place on different levels of the storytelling. All the showy stagecraft involved in unfurling the tale of course dovetails nicely with the core narrative about the magician. The book is gorgeous, full of rich ink washes and beautifully cartoony characters. Cosse's art just keeps getting better and he's also getting bolder with abstraction and using minimalist, really unique layouts that often eschew panel borders and let the tiny images float in acres of white space. The story never quite feels like it goes anywhere, which has been a problem I've had with Cosse's shorter works before, and I don't feel like this is on the level of Mutiny Bay or his sci-fi short in Now #1 but it's still very intriguing.
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Postby Drinky » Wed Dec 06, 2017 11:16 pm

Did anyone else do Nicholas Gurewitch's (PBF Comics guy) Kickstarter thing from a few years ago? The book finally arrived. It's really pretty, but there's not much to it. I think it was supposed to be more serious, but it's kind of just like a longer, more elaborate PBF Comics strip.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Thu Dec 07, 2017 4:30 am

Feels like a looong time since Gurewitch did anything worth reading
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Postby HotFingersClub » Thu Dec 07, 2017 4:33 am

Shintaro Kago's formalist comics absolutely scorched my brain when I first read them. They're so precise and like the opposite of half-baked. Fully baked. Like there are so many ideas and they're each explored to perfect completion. I didn't realise there was no official English translation and I guess I'm surprised although with his subject matter I could see why it'd be a hard sell to publishers.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Thu Dec 07, 2017 9:29 am

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Jillian Tamaki – Boundless
Fantastic collection of shorts from Tamaki. In total it surpasses Supermutant Magic Academy as her best work I think. The illustration is low key beautiful. She has complete control of that classy minimalist thought-provoking thing. I loved how stories like “Sexcoven” unfolded completely naturally and unpredictably. It's so organic I love it.
5/5

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Jose Domingo – Adventures of a Japanese Businessman
Another genuine treat. This is a wordless isometric story about a little grey-haired businessman who leaves the office and accidentally goes on an insane odyssey through time and space. The way it unfolds is so satisfying, like Where's Wally in motion, as incidental details change from panel to panel, bursting into significance and disappearing again. You get the impression that, outside of the panel, the businessman's whole world is carrying on in exactly this manner. Great fun.
4/5

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Megan Kelso – Artichoke Tales
Although the adult themes are more front and centre here, this book reminded me a lot of Linda Medley's Castle Waiting, which similarly has a soft, yielding quality that does very little to intentionally excite you. Artichoke Tales is set in a divided kingdom of these flowerpot men-style people, who are engaged in a civil war. A boy from the north meets a girl from the south, and a family saga grows from there. It's decent. There's a good sense of some kind of meaningful connection between this world and our own, although the comparisons are never explicit. The basic cartooning lets it down a bit, I think. The limited expressiveness and colour palette are a little disengaging, and a lot of the characters are basically identical, which isn't ideal for a sprawling saga.
2/5

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Tom Kaczynski – Beta Testing the Apocalypse
I would have loved to like this more. It seems to be aiming for a contemporary Kafkaism, which I'm down with in theory. Unfortunately, it's often oppressively overwritten, going extremely purple in its thought processes as well as its ever-present and completely unnecessary narration. Kaczynski really sucks the fun out of his own premises.
1/5

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Tony Millionaire – Billy Hazelnuts and the Crazy Bird
What a unique voice is Tony Millionaire. Catch me in the right mood and I'm extremely receptive to the mix of old ships, suicidal alcoholism and funny animals. Billy, an “abomination” made out of suet, beats the shit out of an innocent owl* and then takes it upon himself to return its baby, prompting a fun caper during which Billy is slowly ripped to shreds by his charge. I remember the original Billy Hazelnuts book having a genuine beauty which I think this one mostly forgoes, but this is still a blast. Weird, funny and totally idiosyncratic, without the headachey density of Maakies
4/5


*“WISE OLD OWL!!!! HERE'S A NEW THOUGHT FOR YOU, KNOWLEDGEABLE BIRD! HAVE YOU EVER HEARD ABOUT GETTING YOUR BRAINS BASHED IN?” (Beats owl viciously with fencepost)
Last edited by HotFingersClub on Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:47 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby sevenarts » Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:09 am

Good stuff. I like SuperMutant Magic Academy but there's no question to me that the short stories in Boundless are where Tamaki's real talent can be found. Each one is so well-formed and structured and yet they flow really well, it never feels forced. And the stories fit together so well. I loved SexCoven (from her Frontier issue) so imagine my delight to find there's a whole suite of thematically resonant stories that match its impact.

I think I liked Artichoke Tales slightly more than you but can't really disagree. Castle Waiting is a good comparison, they're both very low-stakes works where it's more about the gentle rhythms of everyday life than trying to go for big drama all the time - though iirc certainly more happens in the Kelso book than ever does with Medley. Kelso, like Tamaki, I think is really best suited for short stories - her book The Squirrel Mother was amazing, a collection of really quiet but formally precise shorts that are really good at getting at rich emotions beneath simple surfaces. It's a shame she doesn't seem to do anything in comics anymore.
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Postby Wombatz » Thu Dec 07, 2017 1:33 pm

HotFingersClub wrote:Tom Kaczynski – Beta Testing the Apocalypse
I would have loved to like this more. It seems to be aiming for a contemporary Kafkaism, which I'm down with in theory. Unfortunately, it's often oppressively overwritten, going extremely purple in its thought processes as well as its ever-present and completely unnecessary narration. Kaczynski really sucks the fun out of his own premises.
1/5

i'd give this a solid 5 out of 5! i see nothing kafkaesque in it, he takes common rhetoric about the way we live and projects it slightly into the future. yes it is illustrated narrative boxes rather than comics, but i think that actually is the premise, the attractions and impossibilities of a plannable life, and i think the detail is meticulous, and sometimes very fun (the neanderthal story?). of course it's been some time since i read it ...
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Postby HotFingersClub » Thu Dec 07, 2017 5:09 pm

Man, I'm jealous. Was really looking forward to cracking into it but I just couldn't engage with it at all. The neanderthal story was my favourite
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Postby Wombatz » Sun Dec 10, 2017 5:46 pm

don't envy another's bad taste :) in adventures in better taste: i've read Anti-Gone today. the title is groanworthy and when i thumbed through it my heart sank, as i didn't much like the cover nor the fake tracing paper conceit (on first sight, once i was into it, the chiaroscuro space and the fact it could go both toward light and dark actually allows amazing effects/moods), and especially not the cast of this comic, a couple of nouveaux riches fit for reality television ... but it's totally fantastic. actually i thought it's not a million miles from cossé in the use of space and washes, the endgame of capitalism setting, the breaches of style ... though this is more ambitious and stronger on first reading ... still, shall we pronounce them a movement?
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Postby sevenarts » Sun Dec 10, 2017 6:06 pm

Wombatz wrote:don't envy another's bad taste :) in adventures in better taste: i've read Anti-Gone today. the title is groanworthy and when i thumbed through it my heart sank, as i didn't much like the cover nor the fake tracing paper conceit (on first sight, once i was into it, the chiaroscuro space and the fact it could go both toward light and dark actually allows amazing effects/moods), and especially not the cast of this comic, a couple of nouveaux riches fit for reality television ... but it's totally fantastic. actually i thought it's not a million miles from cossé in the use of space and washes, the endgame of capitalism setting, the breaches of style ... though this is more ambitious and stronger on first reading ... still, shall we pronounce them a movement?


I also thought of Cosse a bit while reading it, there's definitely some aesthetic overlap though like you I thought Anti-Gone was lots more substantial and ambitious than anything I've read from Cosse, as much as I've enjoyed Mutiny Bay and some of his shorts.

It's funny, I had Anti-Gone sitting around for a long time because just leafing through it, I wasn't sure what to make of it and I never quite seemed to be in the mood to tackle it. But once I finally gave it a shot it totally brightened my whole day because it was just so good. There's something about it that looks kinda forbidding and hard to get a handle on until you're actually immersed in it I think. Totally unique, amazing book anyway.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Thu Dec 14, 2017 9:04 am

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Leslie Stein - Bright-Eyed at Midnight
Another comics memoir/journal about nothing much, but a good one, much better than her fiction series Eye of the Majestic Creature. Bright-Eyed is just a daily chronicle of making art, working in a bar and trying to sleep as a chronic insomniac. Her art is impressionistic, colourful and minimal, a bit like Kochalka's American Elf but more refined. The lack of panel boarders can actually take a little getting used to, especially in the earlier strips which are much more fluid about how your eye is meant to travel down the page, but it really works as an evocation of memory: you don't necessarily see the scene with particular clarity, but the feeling of the experience washes over you. I think my favourite parts were when she lapses into splashes of colour and collage. It's a really pretty book.
3/5

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Glenn Head - Chicago
This one started off as a real eye-roller but actually brought me round by the time I was done. Head was apparently on the fringes of comix in the early days, running into Robert Crumb and all that. It starts of pretty annoying - possibly intentionally. Head gets his parents to pay for a fancy art school, but never goes to class, and then travels to Chicago with nothing but a sketchbook and spends a few months panhandling and unsuccessfully trying to get in with Playboy until his parents turn up and save him from starvation, at which point we find out that he never told them he had dropped out, so they've been paying for his school meals the entire time. It's an interesting snapshot of a dumb kid trying to find himself in the 70s, nothing too extraordinary, but the extended coda adds an interesting layer of reflection and poignancy. It's not clear to me how much Head has actually learned from his life though.
3/5

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Virgil Partch - Cork High and Bottle Deep
A collection of old single-panel cartoons from the 40s and 50s, all about men in hats getting drunk. The cartooning is lithe, misshapen and beautiful, but some of the jokes wouldn't seem out of place for Rick London. Fantagraphics has also made a really strange decision in apparently grouping the cartoons by category of joke, so you'll often see the same joke repeated two or three times in a row with a slightly different formation.
1/5

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Noah Van Sciver - Disquiet
Went into this trepidatiously after pretty much hating the Fante Bukowski books and deciding I probably just didn't get on with Van Sciver, but this is much much better. It's a collection of the best of his short strips, spanning realist drama, fairytales, historical recreation and tongue-in-cheek sci fi pulp. The variety was a big draw for me - every story arrives completely unpredictably and functions with an interior logic that reminded me of Josh Simmons or Jillian Tamaki. The art has an expressive, dirty quality to it that adapts really well to each mode he finds himself in. Really good stuff.
4/5

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Junji Ito - The Dissolving Classroom
Another extremely freaky collection of linked stories, this one following two siblings - a boy who worships the devil and his little sister who maybe has no soul or something? Or is just non-specifically creepy. I detected a more overt subtext this time than usual, apparently critiquing a Japanese society which revolves around manners. The boy kills people by apologising to them until their brains melt and grotesquely deforms women by incessantly praising their beauty. His sister seems much less directly harmful, but is feared much more, essentially just because she's confident. Ito's mainline to completely nightmarish images is undiminished.
4/5

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Mathieu Burniat - Dodin-Bouffant: Gourmet Extraordinaire
And finally something a little more gentle. This is an adaptation of an old French novel which itself was based on the life of Brillat-Savarin, one of the originators of serious food writing. Dodin-Bouffant's chef dies, so he has to find a new one, with whom he eventually falls in love. It's a little weird - but probably appropriate - to see this character being idolised and feted because of all the delicious food he eats, while the woman who actually does the cooking gets comparatively little recognition, and the book sort of addresses that but not completely. The cooking sections are numerous and very beautiful but I think would be a lot more appetising if I weren't vegetarian. The art in general, actually, is really lovely. It has that same liquid quality as Kerascoet's work on Beauty.
3/5
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Postby Wombatz » Sun Dec 17, 2017 12:00 pm

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Aama by Frederik Peeters. this is pretty as hell. it features improved-upon humans and monkey robots (so what could possibly go wrong), desert planets, landscapes reminiscent of fantastic voyage (the movie), mild trippiness, partly subtle writing (about the central character's relationship to his more worldly brother, or to what may or may not be his daughter, not that that makes a difference to him) and yet ... there's something underwhelming to it, as with many eurocomics ... i can't quite put my finger to it. i think it has something to do with genre, that european writers often see genre as a set of rules to be taken seriously, even where they subvert them somewhat ... anyway, there's no surprises on these close to 400 pages, no real playfulness, no ambition beyond spinning a yarn within familiar parameters. still easily readable though.

also i'm reading The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck with my younger boy. great fun! i care for no other duck tales (carl barks is boring, boring, boring), but Don Rosa rules.

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Postby sevenarts » Mon Dec 18, 2017 9:34 pm

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Wet Earth by Lala Albert
Silent, quasi-narrative nature comics about a community of little fairy creatures living near a seashore. Loose, sketchy, and only vaguely interested in any kind of storytelling or progression. A lot of the drawings are lovely, especially with the contrast between Albert's rough-lined figures and her gorgeously detailed nature scenes, but it doesn't really add up to a lot. Seems like it might've been a sketchbook project turned into a book.

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How To Understand Israel In 60 Days Or Less by Sarah Glidden
Glidden writes about her perspective on Israel as a non-observant Jewish woman who feels great sympathy for the Palestinian people and antipathy towards Israel until a visit to the country complicates her feelings. Glidden has an attractive, straightforward style reminiscent of a lot of Euro-comics. It's unshowy, not especially memorable as cartooning, but well-suited to this talky, observational material. It's a good read and throughout, both Glidden and the people around her grapple with the history of Israel and Palestine, and with the propaganda and biases through which so many stories about the region are filtered. The one disappointing thing IMO is how much it slants towards memoir rather than journalism. It's not like I expected Glidden to sum up the whole conflict and create some definitive Israel comic, but at times it seems so insular. She visited the country on a Birthright tour, and much of the book is structured around that tour which makes it seem like a tourist's view of Israel, complete with visits to museums, guide spiels, and faked "authentic" cultural demonstrations - an impression sealed when towards the end, Glidden ducks out of her one opportunity to get a less guided view of some Palestinian territory that's off the official tour route. Glidden's smart and she writes well about what she sees and thinks, and never just regurgitates what she hears, but the perspective still seems more limited than I'd like.

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Our Mother by Luke Howard
Big agreement with HFC that this is a great little book. Howard uses a constantly shifting meta structure to deliver a series of metaphors for anxiety disorders and the ways in which they manifest from generation to generation in families. Obviously autobiographical and extremely heartfelt, as a sequence using photographs towards the end makes clear with a characteristic mix of humor and intense feeling, it nevertheless cloaks its harrowing portrait of divorce, neglect, depression, and mental illness in cloak-and-dagger noir meetings and fantasy adventures. The Deforge comparison is obvious, both in the drawing and in the way the seemingly whimsical artifice is used to explore darker subtexts, but Howard's voice is very much his own.

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Unterzakhn by Leela Corman
Really good, weighty graphic novel about a Jewish immigrant family in New York in the early 1900s, following multiple generations and, in the process, dealing powerfully with gender, sexuality, conformity and rebellion, and the different ways in which these women struggle to express their independence. Corman's aesthetic is cartoony but very solid, with thick lines and very strong definition. I don't love it as a style tbh, and I wish for a little more looseness at times, but her characters' faces are wonderfully expressive - especially the 2 young girls at the core of the book - and the story and characters are so engaging that it's a great read despite some quibbles with the art.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Tue Dec 19, 2017 5:43 am

Really glad you liked Our Mother. Great book.

Wombatz, you're the first person I've seen challenge the orthodoxy on Carl Barks. I think I've flicked through a few pages of either Barks or Rosa and it looks beautiful but I just have a strong feeling I'm never going to be able to engage with duck comics. What are the main differences between Barks and Rosa?
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Postby Wombatz » Wed Dec 20, 2017 3:33 am

HotFingersClub wrote:Wombatz, you're the first person I've seen challenge the orthodoxy on Carl Barks. I think I've flicked through a few pages of either Barks or Rosa and it looks beautiful but I just have a strong feeling I'm never going to be able to engage with duck comics. What are the main differences between Barks and Rosa?

we are legion.

carl barks invented (or finetuned to the point of invention) the template. so he's the gold standard of what to expect. which is kind of the definition of boring (though historically that's an amazing achievement, and this template was so good that even now the average duck story (for us european consumers mostly written in italy or thereabouts) has a high level of craftsmanship).

don rosa is much later and maybe to duck world what tex avery is to cartoons. well that's kind of misleading, as his humor is anarchist rather than subversive. his natural drawing style doesn't fit in at all, it's heavy and angular, with a love of distracting detail, sometimes verging on an 80s u-comix aesthetic. amazing textures on the splash pages. and lots of jokes.

still you needn't worry that you're missing something. i have boys aged 8 and 11, so we're reading duck stories anyway (well, the older one is just past that now). and it works for them too, classic rosa is high art ... there's not much we can really bond over like that, some of the old asterix volumes, calculus cat (plus peter blegvad's leviathan, but i have to translate/explain that, so it doesn't quite count) ... no idea yet what to come up with between the ages of 12 and 15, after that we should be ok ...

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btw i checked Our Mother because of you two, and for me it was laid on too thickly. there's no mistaking what that book's about (probably i just don't like comics that are obviously about anything). or what the author's feelings are. or maybe i'm just not into the head shapes (same reason i'm not really into deforge or patrick kyle).
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Postby HotFingersClub » Wed Dec 20, 2017 4:50 am

Thank you for the educational duck post. That's a great panel. I feel like I would be up for like a tumblr of panels from duck comics so I didn't have to worry about not laughing at old-fashioned jokes. It's a shame because I still derive pleasure from Asterix and Tintin and I feel like I would have the same relationship to this stuff if I had found it earlier.

I understand that reaction to Our Mother. It's neither nakedly confessional nor particularly artful in concealing its subtext, but I really like it when authors use the mechanisms of fiction to work out their personal shit in a way that leaves the wiring visible
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Postby Wombatz » Sat Dec 30, 2017 8:34 am

first post christmas post. received:

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In Search of Lost Time by Nicolas Mahler after Proust. i see that Mahler books do get translated, so you'll have this soon. i'm generally not at all a fan of Mahler's kind of haha funny figures with abstracted faces passive-aggressively making fun of humankind cartoonism, but this is splendid. probably mostly due to the fact that all words are from the classic german Proust translation ... i hasten to add that i have neither the patience nor preciousness for a proper Proust reader, but i kind of like the idea of him, and e.g. Harold Pinter's Proust screenplay (not the film) is fantastic. read that while you wait for the translation of the Mahler. as you can see above, he seems to apply lessons from McGuire, the structure is repetition and variation, the quotes are all surface reflection and surface attraction, and for all its quickness it's a very satisfying read.

given:

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Fearless Colors by Samplerman. i must admit i unfollowed the Samplerman tumblr a long time ago, because it became too much like a tumblr, stuff collected for its sameishness. this 100-page collection though still makes proper sense for staring at and being overwhelmed by a single-minded aesthetic, and so proved a very happy gift. in most ways it's too small really to make the single page breathe in the way it breathed on the computer screen ... but on the other hand this makes you not want to read the book, so i hope it can keep its strange allure for the recipient.

favorite real-life comic seen over the holidays by an unknown master:

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Postby Wombatz » Wed Jan 03, 2018 4:57 am

second post christmas post.

things i secretly got for myself:

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Zegas by Michel Fiffe. i loved this. maybe i should first admit that i'm less of a Copra fan than most because to me the plotting/writing is not nearly on the same level of fun/inventiveness as the art (and it was kind of strange that when marvel hired him a couple of years ago, they wanted him as a writer, to unremarkable results, i believe i remember). also, this being now, a superhero team book reads more like an homage than the real thing, so there seems less at stake than in e.g. one of those curiously serious about spandexes 80s titles. anyway. it sounds like a backhander, but in Zegas there's not much of an attempt at writing, and it's all the better for it. it's also not very consistent in regard to characters, settings, or finish, but rather free to go anywhere (from familiar situations). Fiffe's probably lost to genre for the foreseeable time, but here's hoping he'll return to something like this one day.

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True Swamp: Anywhere But In ... (the 2nd volume) by Jon Lewis. the first volume is an all-time favorite (i have a collection from 1996, which is probably all the better for being a bit less fancy, not the uncivilized one ... dunno if the contents are identical), so i approached this with some trepidation. and unfortunately indeed it's underwhelming. it's very wordy (the page above looks positively bendissy), the art is sort of sprinkled over the pages, which makes it nice and open, but also reduces the surrounding world. so you do no longer get the complete life in the swamp, but rather an attempt to track the beliefs and sophistries of its different inhabitants complete with wandering footnotes, which is clever and sometimes fun, but ultimately nothing of substance is added to the first part. get that instead if you haven't read it.

item on my wish list that i didn't receive (grrr):

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the real true swamp. a catalog of paintings by the marvelous dutch 17th century painter of small animals, Otto Marseus van Schrieck. i oh so need this.
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Postby Mandingo » Wed Jan 03, 2018 5:52 am

i can't really say anything that wombatz didn't already say about don rosa but he's spot fucking on
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Postby goofjan » Wed Jan 03, 2018 10:05 am

sevenarts wrote:Image
Unterzakhn by Leela Corman
Really good, weighty graphic novel about a Jewish immigrant family in New York in the early 1900s, following multiple generations and, in the process, dealing powerfully with gender, sexuality, conformity and rebellion, and the different ways in which these women struggle to express their independence. Corman's aesthetic is cartoony but very solid, with thick lines and very strong definition. I don't love it as a style tbh, and I wish for a little more looseness at times, but her characters' faces are wonderfully expressive - especially the 2 young girls at the core of the book - and the story and characters are so engaging that it's a great read despite some quibbles with the art.

great rec! I got this for my gf for hannukah and she loved it. I can't wait to read it too.
plz if u get a chanse put some flowrs on algernons grave kthxbye
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Postby Wombatz » Fri Jan 12, 2018 8:44 am

so following recommendations on this thread i read:

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Ghosts, etc. by George Wylesol. this seems to collect 3 earlier zines. the first is more formalist in design (with nice broken colors though) and full of great touches, like rendering the ghosts in empty corridors as straightforward curtains. the second goes a more deforgian route, with strange colorful creatures caught between animal shapes and abstract linework haunting the woods, and plays nicely with fake misregistrations. so far so good! the third story, though, does not work for me at all, it's more like poppish signboards which carry at best the diagrammatic outline of a story. it is a strange choice, since a look at the author's website suggests that there would have been other zines that look more interesting and more in line with the first two stories, which would have made for a pretty cool collection. as it is, i think yeah another designer toying with the medium until more proper assignments come in. which is probably unfair.

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Showtime by Antoine Cossé. i was really disappointed by this. it is unnecessarily verbose and has pretty awful and forced postmodernisms like a rat introducing the story to us (but not all of it, because being a postmodern device it needn't) and a couple of sudden shifts in style that are just mood killers. though there's not much mood in the first place because of the talk (and a lack of surroundings which are usually one of Cossés fortes). hm. i think i'm rating Mutiny Bay a bit lower than sevenarts, his best for me are shorter things like that recent Now story or NWAI, but since i've been following his work (Kiddo in 2012, he probably hasn't been around for much longer?) this is by far the most heavy-handed storytelling effort with tons of useless exposition and a twist telegraphed at the first flick of that rat's tail.

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Awaiting the Collapse by Paul Kirchner. Dope Rider of course is dope, else it wouldn't be called Dope Rider. full of references and little details to enjoy and the surrealism doesn't play for laughs too much so the tone is just perfect. then there are two weaker stories in a heavy metal vein, so there's fresh-fleshed blondes in fantasy land and underlings getting to sleep with them to no avail ... though cold- and clearness of the design make them tolerable. then the book falls into a deep hole with covers and half-assedly sexist tableaux from a magazine called Screw. yes, they are drawn mostly marvelously, but nothing dates worse than this square vein of sex humor. the collection actually picks up again in the end with some rather varied stories, but it would be a much better book with maybe a third of the material scrapped. (the book is large format and really nicely produced (but then again that doesn't help the seedy part of things which should be on toilet paper and dripping with ink).)

(so now i'm wondering should i get the first Spain collection from Fanta or is that also aged beyond repair ... i have one Subvert Comics issue somewhere of which i have rather good memories.)
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Postby murderhorn » Fri Jan 12, 2018 9:10 am

Wombatz wrote:in adventures in better taste: i've read Anti-Gone today. the title is groanworthy and when i thumbed through it my heart sank, as i didn't much like the cover nor the fake tracing paper conceit (on first sight, once i was into it, the chiaroscuro space and the fact it could go both toward light and dark actually allows amazing effects/moods), and especially not the cast of this comic, a couple of nouveaux riches fit for reality television ... but it's totally fantastic. actually i thought it's not a million miles from cossé in the use of space and washes, the endgame of capitalism setting, the breaches of style ... though this is more ambitious and stronger on first reading ... still, shall we pronounce them a movement?


really loved Anti-Gone, basically everything I want a comic to be. loved how cartoony the animals are compared to the people. also loved the ________ speech bubbles when characters were too far away from one another to hear the words being spoken.
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Postby good_maritimes » Tue Jan 23, 2018 2:05 pm

If you dig good ole bloody Westerns, I wrote an OGN called "The Butchers" that I'm trying to Kickstart through production.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/33 ... e-butchers
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Postby sevenarts » Tue Jan 23, 2018 9:35 pm

Looks cool, good_maritimes. :D

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Exit Wounds by Rutu Modan
First, very much acclaimed GN by this Israeli artist who's become a staple of the modern Drawn & Quarterly style. It's... not bad. Modan's style is very sparse. Her lines are clean and simple, very European-looking, the backgrounds are somewhat washed-out and digital-looking, and a lot of the heavy lifting is done by the impeccably pleasant color palette. It's all nicely done, and Modan has great facility for wringing surprisingly expressive faces out of her minimal linework, but there's also a lack of dynamism in it, a static quality that I think is exacerbated by the way the figures stand out so strongly from the backgrounds. The story is interesting, a mix of romance and familial intrigue that weaves Israel's politics and the violent outbreaks of terrorism into the otherwise mostly interpersonal narrative, but again it's ably done without really being that exciting, and too often Modan seems to substitute ambiguity for real storytelling.

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Jamilti and Other Stories by Rutu Modan
A collection of earlier short stories but somehow better than the full length book. Some of the stories are much rougher, even sloppier - the figures here are often somewhat lumpen and oddly distorted, in a way that almost makes the drawing look even punky at times, especially in the black and white sections. I dig it much more than the sheen of Exit Wounds. A few of the stories are pulpy crime pieces which is cool to see, and the highlight is the really ragged b&w story about orphan sisters running a hotel, which feels like it may actually be one of the oldest things included. Towards the end her mature style starts to take hold and it's less interesting to me.

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The Property by Rutu Modan
Now this I really enjoyed. Modan hasn't changed her style really substantially since her first GN but she does seem much more assured in the contours of that style: more willing to stretch out into cartoony exaggeration with her facial expressions, to stylize and play around with her cartooning instead of maintaining a staid surface. The added playfulness is here in service of a charming, well-structured tale about a young woman and her grandmother returning to Poland, ostensibly so the grandmother can reclaim her family's old apartment, lost in the chaos of fleeing the Nazis, but really there's a web of familial plots hidden in the background, slowly being revealed. The characters are expertly crafted, and their personalities shine through as Modan's faces are even better than ever, and there's a great mix of sadness, warmth, comedy, and romance, with the looming horrors of history just touching on it all at the fringes. Very good read.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Wed Jan 24, 2018 5:06 am

Great reviews. I didn't like The Property as much as you but agree that the shorter rougher stuff in Jamilti was much better than Exit Wounds. That really felt like a book that the media latched onto more because of various superficial characteristics than because it was really ready for prime time.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Wed Jan 24, 2018 6:48 am

Back on the alt comix horse again and it feels good

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Dash Shaw – A Cosplayers Christmas
A little addendum to the Cosplayers series that came out a couple of years ago. It’s a fun, gentle story about trying to find a Christmas present for a friend, but it still packs a bunch of unexpected details and interactions into its pages. I never get excited about Dash Shaw comics ahead of time but they’re always a rewarding experience.
3/5

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Philippe Druillet – Chaos
I think that image might be from Salammbo actually but it’s pretty much all the same thing. This is a more recent Druillet book, and a continuation of his incomprehensible Lone Sloane saga. It also brings Vuzz back, for any Vuzz fans out there. For anyone not familiar with Druillet, it’s kind of like Jodorowsky under heavy feedback – a succession of massive, jagged spacescapes strung together with a thin mythic plot about a Christlike figure saving the universe from the ultimate evil. It’s totally incredible, admirable and unique without ever really being exactly engaging. Undeniably spectacular and a great source of tattoo inspiration.
2/5

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Manuele Fior – 5,000 km Per Second
This is really fantastic. In linked vignettes spanning about thirty years, we see the prelude to a brief relationship between two Italian teenagers, and then decades’ worth of minor fallout as they move on, move away and occasionally think about one another. There are a lot of similarities here to thread favourite Eleanor Davis, especially in the colourful, simple, expressive art, although I think Fior has slightly more rigidity to his stuff in a way that makes it perhaps more prosaic but also grants a rich and distinctive atmosphere to the settings. Italy, Egypt and Norway are all completely distinct but equally gorgeous. This is really worth seeking out and would absolutely be pick of the week in any other week.
5/5

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Riad Sattouf – The Arab of the Future
The second book this week which absolutely blew me away. Sattouf depicts a childhood spent between Libya, France and rural Syria in short episodes, really burrowing into the surreal qualities of his experiences, many of which left me literally open-mouthed with shock and amazement. It’s so funny but also just terrifying and oppressively chaotic. I don’t think I’d remember my own childhood with anything like this clarity, but then again most of these memories are the type that would sear themselves into your mind forever. Sattouf’s father is such a mesmerising supporting character to this: a vivacious daydreaming eccentric caught between the West and the Middle-East, constantly being humiliated, warm, loving and attentive while simultaneously ruining his family’s lives. Can’t wait for the second volume, and I’m hoping it gives a little more insight into the mother, who is often a bewildered background figure here with little of her own impetus. I know in real life that not everybody has the same amount of impetus, but it’s difficult to imagine that she didn’t have some strong feelings about all the insane shit that goes down in this book.
5/5
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Postby Wombatz » Fri Feb 02, 2018 6:03 am

so, once on a Paul Kirchner trip (fwiw let me add i don't like The Bus at all, but then i also don't like Escher), i bought myself

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Murder by Remote Control, written by one Janwillem van de Wetering ... Kirchner himself has said he was very disappointed by de Wetering's contributions who more or less just filled the speech bubbles with exposition and descriptions of what's being shown in the pictures anyway, and indeed this never really takes off despite the plane theme (also the more psychedelic pages would need color to do that, they tend to fall apart), on the other hand, the flat dialog saves it from Steve Aylett territory ... on the whole, still kind of interesting. nice ending.

some recentish zines (to be read in a minute or less):

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Do Not Touch by Leon Sadler. i don't know, these are just doodles, the creature is not supposed to touch the tower. and yet, this comic brightens my day a little ... whereas

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Jon Chandler, who's from the same scene, does similarly half-deskilled doodles but always manages to darken my day a little. this is called You Are Crumbling My Jonathans. if anybody else is a fan: Chandler is now offering a 500-plus pages collection of his comics and drawings ... it's not cheap and i'm unsure if his stuff won't lose punch in this kind of massive presentation, so i'm still slowly working up a craving until i manage to pull the trigger. finally

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Attrition by Jon Vaughn and Patrick Kyle. there's nothing to read here, just abstract drawings ... there are some ladders, but thankfully no figures (as i don't enjoy Kyle's figure shapes). a very nice clash of styles sufficiently intractable to stare at them for a longer time, if you're into this kind of thing (which i am).
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Postby sevenarts » Fri Feb 02, 2018 10:39 pm

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Was just wondering not so long ago whatever happened to Worton (Blood Visions from Oily was great) and now this is coming from Fantagraphics.
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Postby sevenarts » Fri Feb 02, 2018 10:43 pm

Fantagraphics also has new books lined up from Shintaro Kago, Jim Woodring, Eleanor Davis, Lorenzo Mattotti, new Prison Pit, Kramers 10... Good slate. I love this time of year and seeing publishers lining up good stuff for the year.
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