Alternative/independent comics thread

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

Postby Wombatz » Wed Feb 06, 2019 5:06 am

regarding the parrish i guess i'm between you two. for me it's not too long, else there wouldn't be space for the awkwardness central to the story, and there's indeed lots of great detail in form and expression to ponder during slow passages ... but it has kind of a young-adultish feel, where the difficulties of coping with life and coming to terms with yourself become their own thing entirely (separate from the everyday experience of life (if that makes sense)). although the book reads heartfelt, it's truths are generic rather than specific (not that i'd necessarily want that, i mostly hate autobio comics), and e.g. the dude's character (saying insensitive stuff and halfheartedly retracting, stressing he's not really gay but finding his own minor or mostly repressed gaynesses much more riveting than his friend's more existential grapples) does border on cliché ... as do the rows of suburban houses in the b/w inserts ... probably i'm just a bit old for this book, but it'll be exiting to see where parrish takes it from here.
Last edited by Wombatz on Wed Feb 06, 2019 5:09 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Wombatz » Wed Feb 06, 2019 5:07 am

oh and i read hankiewicz' asthma, and for a few pages was very happy as it seemed to have the freedom that education kind of lacked ... but it wore me down quickly. talking of formalism, here's a specimen, i found it hard to really read all the words because they were just like gestures in a more ponderous medium. the wordless pages are great, though ... still, this raised my appreciation for education by a good notch, just the right way for him to go (it's a pity i can't get the new n for nadelman zine because shipping costs, it looks good).
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Postby sevenarts » Thu Feb 07, 2019 7:45 am

Shame you didn't like Asthma but thanks for pointing out the new Hankiewicz mini :D
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Postby sevenarts » Thu Feb 07, 2019 7:46 am

Also, whooooooaa new James Stokoe comic coming in the next Short Box batch. Amazing.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Thu Feb 07, 2019 8:01 am

Okay, damn, I'm back on board. Who am I to say no to Stokoe
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Postby HotFingersClub » Thu Feb 07, 2019 8:10 am

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John Kerschbaum – Petey & Pussy
I feel like Fantagraphics should have a sub-imprint for this sort of thing. The books that they're best known for are often on the more sensitive, arthouse end of the spectrum, or stuff that challenges the medium in some way, but they also have this side-line in books like this that appeal to a very specific Fantagraphics sense of humour. I associate it strongly but perhaps incorrectly with Gary Groth and it has a strong misanthropic, juvenile-but-old-fashioned, “caustic” streak. Very salty and leathery and to my mind very dated. Simon Hanselmann kind of carries the torch for it a little bit but he's much more surprising where this stuff seems extremely well-trodden. Anyway this specific book falls exactly in that wheelhouse, hence the ramble. It's a looong book about a cat and a dog with human heads getting into mean-spirited hijinks and drinking a lot. Most of the humour comes from the Brian Griffin quadrant of wouldn't it be funny if animals did human things, which I guess sometimes it is, but smoking and drinking are probably the least funny things you can make an animal do. This is the rare Fantagraphics book that's destined straight for the bargain bin.


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Emma Rendel – The Vicar Woman
This is more interesting, Emma Rendel's followup to Pentti & Deathgirl which I enjoyed in this thread a few months ago. This is a more significant project, but still a pretty light read due to the huge size of Rendel's drawings, where each panel is either one or two pages, and still struggle to frame her bulky figures and eccentric compositions. The story is another psychodrama, but this time seen from the outside as a new vicar arrives on a remote island to find the residents frantic for religion, building a huge new cathedral for their tiny parish, packing out her services hours in advance and hounding her at every moment. Aside from the slightly incongruous touch of building the replica Basilica, it progresses in kind of a familiar way – aside from the fact that they all have weird heads I would say it's a fairly traditional haunted remote community, and the book generally lacks the intensity of Pentti & Deathgirl, but then it's also a little funnier. I like the way the community goofily and transparently tries to cover up their mysterious secret; more like a sitcom than a ghost story. Rendel's art is still fun with its distinctive shallow, almost hieroglyphic compositions, although less precise than in her earlier work which made clever use of colour and strange angles. From my brief image search, it looks a lot sharper and nicer on the screen than on the page. Anyway, definitely a fun read and worth checking out if you see it on sale.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Thu Feb 07, 2019 8:13 am

Does it bother anyone that my images are sometimes of wildly differing sizes? I'm boarding on a small laptop and the images fit the screen size but maybe it looks like a horrendous mess to everyone else?
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Postby sevenarts » Sat Feb 09, 2019 10:08 am

LOL I bought that Kerschbaum book in one of Fanta's bargain sales for a few bucks and it's sat on my shelf unread ever since.

And the images always look fine on my monitor. The board's pretty good about auto-resizing things actually.
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Postby sevenarts » Sat Feb 09, 2019 10:39 am

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Concrete by Paul Chadwick
Here's a series that, in an era with frankly much less going on in comics, used to be routinely counted as one of the "serious" alternatives, a smarter and more artistically satisfying genre book. No one seems to talk about it much in those terms anymore - comics is packed with smart genre books these days, and Chadwick's alien cyborg rock brute hasn't really stood the test of time to take a place alongside other genre greats of its era. It's easy to see why, too, though it certainly has its charms. Reading it now is kind of a quaint experience - it's so earnest, so awkward and odd. It's one of those books where you can really feel that the artist is hyper-aware of not fitting into the time's mold, for better or worse - Chadwick is very consciously striving for profundity and seriousness, and it often shows. Even so it's often enjoyable. Concrete is a kinda nerdy guy, a political speechwriter, who gets kidnapped by aliens while on a camping trip, and gets his brain transplanted into a giant rock-covered body. He returns to society, gets hooked up with a government scientist and a cover story about being a government-created cyborg, and becomes a weird kind of celebrity. The best thing about the series is how thoroughly it tweaks expectations - this big bruiser almost never gets in a fight or has conventional action storylines. Instead, he explores the world, thinks, writes about his adventures - climbs Everest, becomes a stunt coordinator on a movie set, gets involved in environmental causes. The book has a real love for nature, and Chadwick's super-clean style makes everything look gorgeous - it's at its best when it's most meditative, this kind of absurd, quiet, melancholy comic about the beauty of the world, and the horror of man's treatment of nature, all centered around this brooding intellectual stuck in a clumsy but powerful body.

The Everest and movie storylines early on are highlights, focusing on this weird hybrid trying to find a place in the world, memorably exploring the theme of a man trying to make the best of what life has thrown at him and enjoy the experiences that can be uniquely his. Later stories get a little weird, sometimes for the better - the miniseries in which Concrete gets involved with a radical environmental group is extremely preachy but actually often smartly engages with the environmental issues it's highlighting - but more often it's just uncomfortable. There's a miniseries in which Concrete's assistant is kidnapped by a Bonnie and Clyde-esque duo and though Chadwick clearly just wanted to do a noir piece it's a really poor fit. Even worse is "The Human Dilemma," which cannot be called anything but deeply strange - Concrete and the beautiful scientist assigned to him finally have a sexual connection, of sorts, then Concrete becomes the spokesman for a population control group recruiting young couples to sterilize, and then Concrete himself becomes pregnant. It's really bizarre, discomfiting, kinda angry and misanthropic at its core, and also happened to be the last major Concrete story so it's quite a place to end.

Anyway, as unsatisfying as a lot of this is, I'm glad I read this. It's a touchstone of comics even if no one quite remembers that it is - a relic of an earlier period in the artform's development.
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Postby sevenarts » Tue Feb 12, 2019 12:13 am

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Parker by Darwyn Cooke
Somehow took me this long to get around to these even though I knew damn well they'd be right up my alley. Basically 4 books worth of Cooke cutting loose on classic noir and heist genre atmosphere, in the style of "Selina's Big Score" but here based on the real deal raw source material in the form of the Donald Westlake Parker novels. Goddamn this stuff is good - brutally economical, fast-paced but not exactly action-packed. They're books about mood, about waiting and expectation, more than the inevitably fast, brutal bursts of violence that punctuate all those moody languours. Westlake's Parker is a typical square-jawed, taciturn anti-hero, a crook with a rigid but not too moral code of ethics, characterized mostly by his stubbornness, his misanthropy, and his flippantly nasty attitude towards women. Cooke seems to stick pretty close to the script but it's the beauty of the art, of the way he draws this world and these people, that makes these books so memorable - the elegance and beauty of Cooke's drawings are jaw-dropping, his women seem to pulse with vitality and sex appeal, his shadow-draped settings never fail to be striking and dramatic. And it's precisely because of all that rich visual context that the sporadic violence in the book, and the brutish protagonist's ease with violent acts, can feel so horrifying. Still, this is no deconstruction - Cooke unapologetically loves the source material and the era it conjures, and his clear affection for the noir tone is obvious on every page. My favorite was probably The Score just because I'm such a sucker for the heist genre and this is just such an amazingly executed, tightly plotted heist epic that it's basically the ultimate heist yarn - a dozen crooks carefully plotting every detail of robbing an entire town, only to have it spectacularly blow apart. The first 3 books are all pretty amazing though, and the 4th (Slayground) is "merely" a minor pleasure with the same gorgeous art.

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Vows by Julia Balthazar
In a pretty cool project, Laura Lannes is going to be translating 4 Brazilian minicomics into English and publishing them this year, and here's the first, from a cartoonist whose work has never been available in the US before. It's an interesting little book, comprised of a series of ambiguous scenes and fragments seemingly taken from a family reunion. All the characters are blobby silhouettes and the fragmentary dialogue suggests various stories and arcs but never quite coheres into a full narrative. The effect is appropriately fuzzy and hazy, like listening in on chatter at a party but never getting the full context for any comment. A short quick read and I can't say it blew me away but I'm really glad Lannes is doing this and I'm looking forward to seeing what else is in store.

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Conan Turtlepack's Day Out by Valentine Gallardo
A Short Box mini from a couple years ago. A charming little narrative about a day at the beach and the interactions between some friends. Not much to it, honestly, but it's breezy and there's something low-key appealing about Gallardo's figures and faces, which are kinda simple and cartoony but have a lot of character in their simple lines. I especially like this one beefy, dopey, oval-headed frat-bro dude with his Hanna Barbera face and odd little tuft of faux-punk hair.

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Sacred Heart by Liz Suburbia
One of the straight-up best things I've read in a while now, this is fantastic and, as HFC pointed out a while back, really sadly overlooked. Suburbia takes as her starting point the clean lines and clear blacks of Jaime Hernandez, as well as his sweaty punk teen milieu, but she's never held back by her obvious influence. This sprawling punk epic features a large cast of spiky-haired, ratty teens living in a seemingly post-apocalyptic town, abandoned by all the adults. They play shows, throw parties, mill about at school seemingly out of habit, flirt and fuck, and occasionally, without explanation, murder one another and leave the corpses strewn around the increasingly destroyed landscape. Suburbia masterfully weaves the various tones and moods of her work together, letting this overarching dread linger in the background and only sporadically burst to the fore, while much of the rest of the book is funny, goofy, heartfelt, and steeped in all the typical overheated teenage emotions. Her characters are so well rendered, both stylistically and in the way she writes them, that they frequently feel totally real. The dialogue is unrelentingly sharp, and Suburbia is one of those artists where it's a total joy to watch her characters even just hang out for a few pages, doing nothing much besides being themselves. I will say I'm still thinking through the ending and my instinct is I could've done without it, and might've liked it better if a lot of the background mysteries had been left as such - but it's a pretty minor complaint about an all-around stellar book. I loved this so much I immediately ordered all the other Suburbia stuff I could find, including her new annual comic "Egg Cream." Excited to follow her from here for sure.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Tue Feb 12, 2019 1:08 pm

Fuck yeah Sacred Heart, that book rules. I had similar uncertainties about the ending but in the end it didn't affect my enjoyment of the ride as a whole, and I kind of appreciate that she had a stab at making a much more twisty turny and tightly-plotted book than the genre really demanded of her. It's bolder in a way, to nail it down like that

I'll also say, if unanswered questions are your bag, it's doubly important to check out Wet Moon ASAP
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Postby Wombatz » Tue Feb 19, 2019 11:42 am

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so we read two more volumes of professor bell by sfar, nos. 2 and 5 (the latter with art by one hervé tanquerelle, which looks a little more mainstream euro comics, but nice). no. 2 was my boy's favorite so far, here our quasi sherlock is in jerusalem and engages with devils that look after their daughters. no. 5 was his least favorite, it takes place in ireland and the leprechauns are something like a swingers club for seniors that meet below a graveyard. all lovingly done fluff with many fun allusions and lots of detail. nothing i would strongly recommend, still strong enough that i will get those sfar comics from the library next time i'm there.

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in a way, this is kind of the same thing in american, frankenstein alive alive by steve niles and bernie wrightson. i like the way this story is told, it has a good measure of 50s horror comics vibe, but not their annoying need for punchlines, a very low key melodrama despite the huge topic. while wrightson's art is spectacular, i still was a little disappointed with that ... i thought it would be like his illustrations to the novel, which are something else! ... this here is a bit like a picture book for young people, not sufficiently abstract to be quite convincing, the pictures are maybe not iconic enough? don't know quite how to put that disappointment, since wrightson is so brilliant with the character. when his health became too bad to continue with the project, they let kelley jones finish the last issue after his sketches and (much as i sometimes enjoy jones' own mannerisms) that was a terrible choice. it's really baffling, all the features in faces just somehow lump together. awful ending to an otherwise fun book.

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parallel lives by o. schrauwen. talking about mannerisms, this here is a good start if you want to be sick of schrauwen's babyfaces. because of the spacesuits and the enthusiastic but braindead sense of exploration there's a definite teletubbishness to this book. actually pretty brilliant as a thematically coherent collection (except one double spread), but i can't take the vibe and won't return to him again (unless this board screams masterpiece repeatedly).

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the man from the great north by hugo pratt. never got into corto maltese, but then didn't really try, what with all the dodgy editions etc. this is a very nice edition, sort of a reconstruction, which is why some pages are sketchbook, but it works pretty well. at first it seems as if the guy is just a cold-blooded killer, but then some motives creep in. very well done, very nice landscape, the only quibble is some extra pages written later that dilute the story, it's better to stop when it says fin.

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teratoid heights by mat brinkman (museum edition :rixx: ). well, what to say. in most respects, there isn't much there there. barely defined primal creatures in small episodes of stomping each other or doing community stuff. the art is thick like linocut but loose like doodles. it's pretty great, i wonder why. the way it flirts with abstraction, of course, but also how organic it all is, the line being the creature, and, contrary to all the other two blobs go out into a wasteland comics i've read, wonderfully empathetic.

also some old floppies penciled by trevor von eeden. this green arrow annual inked by frank springer from 92 is bonkers:

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Postby HotFingersClub » Wed Feb 20, 2019 5:22 am

Such an interesting selection! Confidentially I think I agree with you about some of Frankenstein, aside from a few beautiful splash pages and environments.

I'm excited about that Schrauwen though, and for Teratoid Heights
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Postby HotFingersClub » Sat Feb 23, 2019 3:03 pm

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Carol Tyler – Fab4 Mania
Bit of an odd title, that. I guess they couldn't get the rights to the obvious alternative? This is a longer, sustained work from Tyler, whose 2005 collection Late Bloomer I wrote about ambivalently a few pages ago. Here, she's written about her childhood in early 60s America, where she saw The Beatles on Ed Sullivan at just the right age to become completely obsessed for the rest of her life. The book charts that obsession, and is definitely more about the first-hand feeling of Beatlemania than The Beatles per se. I think most indie cartoonists of Tyler's generation are a little younger, and were more interested in punk and the counter-culture, so Tyler is able to offer something with quite a different vibe here, and there's definitely some interest in reading the first-hand experiences of a woman whose age and disposition are pretty similar to my Mum's. However, I'm still not finding Tyler very engaging as a writer or artist. The format here is a little on the dense side as well – most of the pages here are prose diary entries, written as her teenage self, with the occasional doodle thrown in, and then every few pages you get a one-page tableau like the one above. Unfortunately a lot of it is the kind of minutiae about school clubs and best friends that you'd find in most teenage girls' diaries – not super interesting.


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Amelie Flechais – The Lost Path
This is an all-ages GN by Flechais, a talented French artist who often works in mixed media. It follows three boys in a Wonderlandish sort of adventure as they get lost in a mysterious forest and are embroiled in a conflict between factions of forest spirits. I don't have a huge amount to say about it. It has a functional plot and some pretty drawings but doesn't really offer anything unusual enough to grab me. Over the Garden Wall would appear a year later and do pretty much this exact same thing with a good deal more depth and charm.


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Amelie Flechais – The Little Red Wolf
This is the second Flechais book I read this week. It came out the year after The Lost Path and features Flechais leaning in to her perceived strengths with a book that's shorter, simpler and fully-painted (TLP is painted only about every third page, giving it a slightly unfinished look). It also gets rid of panels and speech bubbles, becoming basically a picture book. I'd say it was meant for younger kids but it seems scarier and darker than most of the books I would have liked at that age? The story is kind of a Red Riding Hood reversal, with a baby wolf who gets tricked and captured by an evil little girl. Again, it's very pretty to look at but not much more. I think I actually prefer TLP for its creativity and imaginative detail. This is a little more basic.


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Chris Reynolds – The New World
Wow. Massive thanks to Sevenarts because I'd never even heard of Chris Reynolds before you recommended this book, and it's clear that he's an absolute master. The fact that he's put out a huge number of books and he's even based in the UK was weirding me out a little this morning. How had I never even heard his name before? The whole situation is a bit too Reynoldsian (if I may coin a term) for comfort. Sevenarts already wrote about this at length, so just to catch up any newbies: Chris Reynolds has been working largely unrecognised since the 80s on a very strange, ultra-specific world, published in a small number of graphic novels and a series called Mauretania Comics. He depicts a version of the UK which gives me a feeling of living in a simulation gone wrong. It's strangely depopulated; people act with recognisable motivations but seem unable to impact their environment; recognisable stories and events only lightly collide with what is depicted, or bypass the reader entirely. Theme or ideas sometimes recur, but not to an understandable effect. The story above is one of several instances where a character returns home after being away, only to find that home deserted. There are multiple scenes of people trying to arrange a meeting, but being unable to coordinate. There are aliens working in the background but they don't behave the way aliens should. I feel like I'm just listing things here because there isn't really a unified theory of what's happening in the narrative, what Reynolds is trying to achieve, or why it's so totally hypnotic. Lots of people have called it dreamlike and I have a strong temptation to explain away the feeling it gives me with that term, but if I actually think about it it's not like my dreams at all – it's not really like anything, even while the empty small-town spaces might remind me of Gerald Murnane and the art might remind me of walking into a dark house after my eyes have adjusted to bright sunlight. Sevenarts, you're absolutely right – this guy is one of a kind. I feel a strong urge to try and track down all of his stuff now. Also did you know that you're a featured quote on his official website?


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Yuichi Yokoyama – Outdoors
Speaking of unique voices, here's the new one from probably the most distinctive and boundary-breaking artist working in manga, and not to get everyone overhyped but I think it's probably a new favourite for me – up there with Travel and New Engineering. This book has three stories, all great, and all focusing more than usual on nature and the ways it can interact with people and built objects. In the first story, probably my favourite, a pilot flies a camera drone at incredible speeds through trees and grassy wetlands, disturbing flocks of birds and shoals of fish. It's the most perfect, quintessentially Yokoyama idea: the futuristic shape of the done blasting with incredible force and speed through fruit-laden trees and thick grass. The second and third stories I won't spoil because the surprise of these conceits is part of the pleasure, but they're also fantastic. Breakdown have made it a beautiful package, with sound effect text by Joe Kessler of Windowpane fame. As a little bonus, there's a tiny and fascinating two page Q&A with Yokoyama at the back of this book which pleased me greatly. Revelations include that he doesn't own a computer and has never been into video games, and he prefers quiet sounds and music “without much incident” but has recently been using as many sound effects as possible because of a strong desire to “cram [his] images full.” I hadn't realised it was a recent development, but he's totally right. Iceland and Outdoors are both incredibly noisy, but go back to Travel and it's comparatively silent – the only noise is implied.
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Postby sevenarts » Sat Feb 23, 2019 7:59 pm

Schrauwen rules and I'm excited for Parallel Lives still. Part of my sadly massive backlog.

Von Eeden is great too. It's such a thrill picking up some random old shitty-looking floppy like that Green Arrow thing and opening it to find something that odd and distinctive. Probably my favorite in that regard is the random World's Finest issues he did - surrounded on all sides by the most generic goofy pre-Crisis 80s DC bullshit and then there are these little island issues with utterly outlandish visuals that make Superman and Batman look like fresh new sci-fi concepts rather than the familiar ancient properties they are.

HFC I'm so glad you checked out Reynolds and responded that strongly. It's weird to me too that he's so obscure - I can't remember where I first heard of him or what prompted me to check out his stuff but before this collection he certainly never came up very often. I've probably called it "dreamlike" too but I think you're right that's not quite it. I think it's a combination of that he technically works within genre storytelling - noir, sci-fi - but doesn't really keep the thread going, and that his stories are more about atmosphere/feelings than events, and that rather than an ongoing narrative the stories take place in a common world but leap around wildly and even at times contradict each other. It's this unique feeling of being narrative fiction without actually having a proper narrative.

The New World prompted me to pull out a lot of the other Reynolds stuff I had (scattered single issues + the self-published collections he did) and there are some gems and missing stories that aren't in The New World (notably more of the Cinema Detectives stuff) but the collection really does have a big chunk of his work and is a fantastic selection. Seth and NYR did an amazing job there.

HotFingersClub wrote:Also did you know that you're a featured quote on his official website?

Holy shit, no! I love that I got Hipinion a pull quote feature.

I'm excited for Iceland too, gotta get to that soon.
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Postby sevenarts » Sat Feb 23, 2019 10:22 pm

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Burma Chronicles + Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City by Guy Delisle
Looks like I actually enjoy every other book I read from Delisle: the pattern holds for his third and fourth travelogues. These books are on their surface very similar: Delisle visits a foreign country, in the tow of his long-term partner Nadege, who works for MSF. While she works, he cares for their kids and tries to find time to explore and draw. And yet their effect is very different. I was pretty much just annoyed by most of Burma Chronicles: it's so surface-level, so resolutely dedicated to inanities, that the moments that do engage more substantially with the place he's in just get buried in the overall blandness. Delisle's art style isn't especially interesting to me - it's got a clean Euro cartooniness that's appealing enough but doesn't really stand out - so his books wind up being only as interesting as the stories he has to tell about his travels. In Burma Chronicles, there's not much. His Jerusalem book, on the other hand, seems to delve a lot more into the nature of Israeli society, the walls and borders separating off the Palestinian people, the settlements and the aggressions of the Israeli settlers, and more. Here it winds up being pretty interesting that Delisle, from his position of domesticity and casual observation at the fringes, sees so much and touches on so many of the paradoxes and issues of modern Israel.

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Yearly 2018 by Andrew White
First annual self-published collection from this new-to-me creator, picked up on a whim because the art looked so cool. It's definitely very pretty stuff, reminiscent of Frank Santoro and Dash Shaw in the use of color and the often minimalist linework against washes of paint. The writing is strictly amateur though, like bad creative writing exercises, and it wound up being a struggle to get through the slim volume because each story is so plodding and riddled with cliches.

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Collected Cyanide Milkshake by Liz Suburbia
Sacred Heart ruled so here's more Suburbia. This is a collection of her zine, which she published annually at around the same time as she was working on the graphic novel. This is much looser, rougher, sillier than Sacred Heart, by design - it's a clearinghouse for Suburbia's sex jokes, short stories about dogs, little slices of autobiography, mock-movie posters and fake ads, a couple short Sacred Heart spin-offs, and whatever else struck her fancy. Obviously not on the same level as Sacred Heart but it was very much not meant to be, and it's fun stuff. Charming, occasionally laugh-out-loud funny, occasionally personally vulnerable in the way it exposes the creator behind the work. The ongoing serial about her 2 dogs committing crimes was a big delight. The longest continuing story was "Girl Boy Adventure," about an on-again/off-again couple escaping a zombie apocalypse and having erotic adventures along the way; again, pretty fun if nothing mind-blowing.

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Egg Cream #1 by Liz Suburbia
And now here's new Suburbia: the first installment of what's going to be an annual-ish ongoing series. The bulk of this long issue is taken up by the first chapter of her Sacred Heart sequel, which picks up 10 years after the end of the book. As I said before, I wasn't necessarily thrilled with how the GN ended, so I started this a little skeptical and it took me a bit to warm up to it, but by the end I was fully engrossed again. This feels like a prologue to whatever comes next, using a faux-documentary structure to fill in a lot of the details and history surrounding the GN's last-act revelations, and taking most of the issue to build up to a pretty obvious character reveal. Suburbia's character art and feel for dialogue continues to be amazing, and the way she focuses in on trauma and tragedy here quickly becomes very powerful despite the distancing artifice of the documentary framing device. There are some panels where the characters pause in their stories and just stare - accusingly, pointedly - out at the "camera" that are especially powerful. The rest of the issue is a couple short pieces plus a long string of deadpan dream diaries which are actually very poignant and thought-provoking - each one is a few images accompanied by descriptive text, but despite the simple format you can feel Suburbia psychoanalyzing herself, probing at her fears and anxieties. Great issue all around and I'm excited to get onboard at the start for this now.

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N For Nadelman by John Hankiewicz
Thanks Wombatz for pointing out this existed (just 50 copies!). Nice new short Hankiewicz comic, in his familiar poetic style, focusing on the sculptor and folk art collector Elie Nadelman. It's an extended study of a couple encounters between Nadelman and a museum representative, pulled apart and dissected from multiple angles. Nadelman himself never appears, instead speaking from off-panel (like the characters in Education) or being represented by sculptures or objects sitting on a chair. The way Hankiewicz abstracts a simple conversation by creating these subtle disconnects between image and words, or by introducing repetition and deja vu, continues to be very rewarding. It works especially well here as the story meditates on art as objects - the way the objects replace the artist, the way the objects break and rot away but linger on nonetheless. It's accompanied by a little zine that intriguingly pairs discarded text not used in the comic with sketches Hankiewicz did at the beach, an interesting little glimpse into the way his art plays with words and images as distinct components where the contrast between them, rather than the correspondence, is the point.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Sun Feb 24, 2019 1:03 pm

Good stuff. I'm excited for the new and old Suburbias. I didn't know she was doing a sequel to Sacred Heart

We're on a similar wavelength with Delisle. I remember thinking Jerusalem Chronicles was definitely the most interesting of those two books. His travelogues inspire weirdly strong reactions considering how mild his tone is. I have a friend, a massive Joe Sacco fan, who talks about Delisle as the nadir of comics journalism
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Postby sevenarts » Sun Feb 24, 2019 2:08 pm

HotFingersClub wrote:His travelogues inspire weirdly strong reactions considering how mild his tone is. I have a friend, a massive Joe Sacco fan, who talks about Delisle as the nadir of comics journalism


I get this but it's kind of an unfair comparison, they're not remotely trying to do the same thing. There's no question to me that Sacco is wayyyyy more interesting, both as an artist and in terms of his overall approach and the things he has to say, but Delisle isn't really competing on that same playing field. I think the issue is that he's trying to do both light, "charming" travelogue material while also to some degree commenting politically and socially on the places he visits, and one of those things is just way more interesting than the other, so his books basically live or die on where the balance between the two falls.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Mon Feb 25, 2019 7:30 am

K. C. Green's minicomic A Pig Being Lowered Into Hell in a Bucket was a late entry for one of my favourite comics of last year and you can read the whole thing here http://kcgreendotcom.com/PIGBUCKET/
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Postby sevenarts » Mon Feb 25, 2019 9:29 pm

That’s pretty cool for sure.

New Short Box is up for preorder though the non-Stokoe comics look really unappealing this time around. Still, awesome looking new Stokoe.
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Postby sevenarts » Mon Feb 25, 2019 9:32 pm

Also Fantagraphics is doing their annual 2-for-1 coupon sale where you spend $50 to get a code worth $100. Really amazing.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Tue Feb 26, 2019 3:30 am

sevenarts wrote:That’s pretty cool for sure.

New Short Box is up for preorder though the non-Stokoe comics look really unappealing this time around. Still, awesome looking new Stokoe.


Yeah that new Stokoe looks sooo good but I'm trying not to spend money rn. I'll try and pick it up at ELCAF this year
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Postby HotFingersClub » Thu Feb 28, 2019 12:37 pm

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Matthew Thurber – Art Comic
I never paid much attention to Matthew Thurber before but I had a huge amount of fun with this book, the collected edition of an art world satire series that he's been producing for the last few years. The best way to describe it is like a cross between Velvet Buzzsaw and Megg & Mogg, with the best elements from both of those creations. Thurber does a great job of finding the balance between something genuinely scathing and totally daft, following a large cast of chancers, hangers-on and genuine talent-havers, all of whom are equally unbearable, cynical about the art world and completely in love with it. There's a really fun Kupperman style sense of the absurd to it, albeit focused on fine art rather than pulp comics, but the most appealing aspect to me was actually Thurber's scattershot plotting. He's constantly jumping between characters, times and places, and creating series within series. It reminded me a lot of my obvious touchstone for this sort of thing: 22 Short Films About Springfield, and it's ultimately just as well balanced between hundreds of insane strands, and happily always follows through on its bizarre plotting choices. When one of the two main protagonists jumps out of a helicopter as a punchline, a couple of issues into the series, Thurber doesn't ignore or downplay it or just wrap the character in bandages, but pursues the strand to its bitter end. People who've actually been to art school are likely to get even more out of it – there's a lot of insider art jokes and cameos from art world legends including an extended plotline featuring Matthew Barney as an evil conspiracist.


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Michael Comeau – Winter's Cosmos
Not super impressed and kind of grossed out by this debut book from Comeau, out on Koyama Press. The visual style is the main thing to note – Comeau uses photographs of posed actors and layers them with digital effects, drawings and collages, before apparently photocopying the whole thing to give it a grainy, zine-ish look. It's pretty striking but there's something about it which I can't help finding ugly. I hope I'm not bringing too much prejudice with me from numerous other hideous photo-comics. It's an artform that I mainly associate with terrible early 90s Vertigo series and the UK tabloids. This at least looks a lot better than most of those. The story follows two bored astronauts on a long-haul space flight, particularly the male one as he sexually pesters his female colleague and threatens to kill himself. It was pretty lame and boring.


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Daishu Ma – Leaf
File this one under the subcategory of wordless comics that should probably have been given a few words. Ma's book follows a guy who finds a glowing leaf while out on a walk, and then attempts to share that light with the residents of his magical realist industrial city. Unless I'm very much mistaken, this books betrays an extremely heavy Shaun Tan influence in almost every particular. I'm not necessarily opposed to it – Shaun Tan does good work, and not many people are on his stylistic bandwagon. Ma is clearly a talented artist, but his plot is complicated and hard to follow in this form and his environmental message is a little basic. There are multiple pages where a character is essentially talking straight to camera, mouthing words and making faces, and it's totally unclear what they're trying to communicate. Ma could use the input of a good writer.


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Hariton Pushwagner – Soft City
This is a curio. Drawn by a Norwegian artist living in London in 1973, a single copy of it passed through the hands of a few counter-cultural artists, writers and musicians before it disappeared for 35 years, most of which Pushwagner seems to have spent taking a lot of drugs. It resurfaced and was finally reclaimed and published around 2008, with an introduction and cover by Chris Ware, who did a lovely design job that nevertheless obscures the book's nature and even its title. I'd seen it around for years but never out of cellophane, until I found this copy in a library and finally worked out the title and author.

Anyway, it's a unique book. Just about lives up to its origin story. On big, oversized pages, Pushwagner shows the day in the life of a conformist utopia, populated by untold millions of identical office drones with identical families. They get up, drive to work, sit at their desks and then come home to their wives in perfect unison – the central appeal of this book are the vertiginous, meticulously symmetrical panoramas on almost every page, as thousands of identical men in hats sip their coffees, stare from their windows and start their cars. The LSD influence is very clear, both in the visuals and in the simple rejection of conformity, capitalism and human society. I feel like I recognise the frame of mind pretty intimately, although I don't know if many people would go so far as to make a comic out of it nowadays. It's a quick read anyway, and worth a look for the art alone, and Pushwagner's incredible way with perspective.
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Postby sevenarts » Thu Feb 28, 2019 8:32 pm

Interesting selection. I've liked but not loved Thurber's previous books so I haven't really made Art Comic a priority, but it looks neat.

Soft City looks amazing, I've been meaning to finally read that forever just because the origin story is so larger than life.
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Postby Wombatz » Fri Mar 01, 2019 6:14 am

stupidly, i kind of always avoided the pushwagner, it too much reminds me of standard satirical views of the human condition that didn't help my 70s childhood much ... and will the stokoe be available seperately? (reminds me that i still haven't found a separate copy of the first issue of godzilla in hell, which is utterly brilliant, but the rest of the series isn't) ... anyway, i've been to the library:

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they had the manuele fior story collection, blackbird days in english, so i could properly postjudge my prejudgements, and indeed i wasn't bowled over. it starts out somewhere between gentrified slices of life poetically told to literary magazines and useless footnotes to his graphic novels. the title story contains a little more meat (not by coincidence it's kind of a sf story), and is aesthetically more interesting with a nicely arranged average of 4 panels per page, and the robot fight that follows it is mildly fun, but it's hard to see the point of the exercise (except that vague aim to offer stylistically diverse approximations to various arthouse cinema styles). then also i tried reading corto maltese, but the coloring completely ruins the artwork ... in the best, most abstract panels, the attempt to define thickly black, dissolving shapes through color really becomes absurd ... and the story isn't great enough to overcome these downsides ... all in all, the man from the great north was tons better. also i got the rabbi's cat by sfar and wish i hadn't. it's super pedestrian, probably an honest and well-intentioned effort to explain jewishness to young people, and i'm sure it does that well, but no thrills to be got for the avid comics reader.

so not a great haul, but at least i've done my homework.

i took out the other books (moore's what happened to the man of tomorrow, loeb/sale's when in rome, and a hugely fun collection of mike barr/alan davis detective comics) for my 12-year old ... he has never really read superhero comics before and was totally floored.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Fri Mar 01, 2019 7:59 am

Wombatz wrote:stupidly, i kind of always avoided the pushwagner, it too much reminds me of standard satirical views of the human condition that didn't help my 70s childhood much ... and will the stokoe be available seperately?


That is exactly the tone of the Pushwagner - it seems a little dated now but it's a really beautiful book.

They sell the Shortbox minis separately at my LCS so I'm hoping to pick up the Stokoe there. It might be a matter of finding a good stockist
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Postby HotFingersClub » Fri Mar 01, 2019 8:02 am

What's the status on Corto Maltese? Is he still putting out new books? Are there any particular highlights? It never looked like my kinda thing but I quite enjoyed that book Indian Summer that Pratt wrote with Milo Manara
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Postby HotFingersClub » Fri Mar 01, 2019 8:39 am

And another thing! There's an un/interesting Organist podcast from a few months ago about the release of The New World, featuring interviews about the work with Reynolds himself as well as Seth.

https://www.kcrw.com/culture/shows/the-organist/the-new-world

It's an odd one. Seth is interesting and informative; Reynolds sounds eager to help but is not necessarily the best explainer of his own stuff. Considering the access they got, it's short on content and long on production/dramatic readings, but it's nice to hear it discussed at length
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Postby Wombatz » Fri Mar 01, 2019 9:46 am

HotFingersClub wrote:What's the status on Corto Maltese? Is he still putting out new books?

i think he will remain dead for the time being
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Postby sevenarts » Sun Mar 03, 2019 10:29 pm

Image
Sad to report Fantagraphics' NOW is still mostly a bore, but #5 did have one excellent contribution, a horror short from Maggie Umber of 2D Cloud, done in a lush 50s Hollywood glamour style, totally silent with black and white watercolors, using shadows and hints of abstract imagery to suggest the menace lurking within a beautiful 50s housewife. It's gorgeous, melancholy, and totally creepy, feels very much like a Lynchian nightmare. Probably the first piece in NOW that has really captured my imagination since Antoine Cosse in the first issue.

Apparently this is a sample of Umber's forthcoming horror collection The Man in the Blue Suit so that's definitely a book to watch for whenever it comes together.
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