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 » Thu May 09, 2019 7:32 pm

New 2D Cloud Kickstarter is out:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

in other eclecticists i've read

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

two great ones:

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

and then, i finally own

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(i want that stokoe book)
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Postby HotFingersClub » Thu May 23, 2019 10:21 am

Wide load coming through

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Kevin Huizenga – Fielder
A typically brilliant first issue from a guy who probably cracks my top five comic creators. I've been obsessed with pretty much every page he's ever released, and that trajectory more or less continues here. Fielder isn't exactly a fresh start from his previous series Ganges, just more of a loosening up. The Glenn Ganges avatar still takes up a chunk of this first issue, and still functions as a lens through which the tiniest moments and systems are closely observed. I loved the long sequence where he sits on the edge of his bed in the morning, caught between waking and sleep, as currents of air pass around him and hypnagogic thoughts percolate. There's something microscopic about Huizenga's work – his cartoons are so precise and delicate, and he can observe the smallest things endlessly in figuring out how they work. The other sections in which he gives himself the chance to experiment without continuity are also done beautifully, although the dinosaur jungle adventure stuff challenged my notions of what Huizenga is all about. I'm not sure I got what was going on there – it seems like he's adapting old pulp comics issues into his own style? But I couldn't tell if it was leading anywhere or if there was more to get out of it than just a formal exercise.


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Alma Liebl Beck – Control & Other Myths
I picked this up from the creator after bumping into her in a shop in NY. I imagine it'll probably be tough to track down, but I definitely recommend taking a look if you get a chance, as it's a beautiful product, austere but loving, it feels like it's come straight from Liebl Beck's hands. The book is a meditation on systems of control, particularly as regards the author's relationship to food, her body, and her mental health. Scenes of dance and visual ruminations on flesh are interwoven with diaristic text in a series of formal gambits that attempt to either constrain or unleash Liebl Beck's expression. The beautiful handmade quality of it really emphasises the intensely personal content – it feels like a direct transmission from the soul in a way that's unmatched by anything else I've read recently.


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Mario Hernandez & Gilbert Hernandez – Citizen Rex
This is a pretty rare outing for the third Hernandez brother AFAIK. I've been reading Los Bros for a while but never stumbled across Mario's work before – presumably because it doesn't get collected that much. Even with Beto on the art, this is not much of an advert for Mario's talent. It's kind of a pulpy sci-fi in the model that the other brothers have occasionally reverted to, featuring an artificial man causing havoc in a futuristic city. I don't think it's bad exactly, but it doesn't have that idiosyncratic humanity that Jaime and Gilbert have, and the narrative is set at the level of a frantic and atonal caper. You can tell there's nothing like the same storytelling skills on display.


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Julian Hanshaw – Cloud Hotel
This is kind of interesting, from a creator who's new to me. It's a story apparently inspired by Hanshaw's childhood encounter with a UFO in the forest, and follows a boy who gets abducted to a strange floating hotel which he shares with other children. Remco quickly discovers that unlike the other children he's able to move between the hotel and the real world at will, but as the children move on from the hotel one by one, the structure starts to decay in strange ways. I think there's a pretty simple story at the centre of this but the elliptical nature of the telling makes it seem more mysterious and complex. Donnie Darko might be an influence. Hanshaw has a nice crisp line and the design of the hotel is fun; less of a fan of the weird heavy blacks that he uses for drawing eyes. I enjoyed my time here well enough.


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Anya Davidson – Lovers in the Garden
This is my first Davidson, one of my major blind spots in modern alt comix, although I understand it's probably not one of her top-tier works. This is a 70s crime caper, owing a fair bit to Tarantino and Pulp Fiction with its interlocking stories and distracted hitmen. It didn't feel like it had much depth to me, but there's a lot to like, and in a medium overstuffed with genre pastiches it's certainly on the more successful/entertaining end. The art does a lot of the work – I'm a big fan of Davidson's queasy colouring and the glassy stares of her characters.


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Roman Muradov – Picnic Ruined
Lastly, this sucked, don't bother. It's a very early Retrofit comic from 2013, with a creator I've never encountered before. Muradov has a pleasant, flowing cartooning style that reminded me of Andi Watson or a lot of the Europe Comics output, but the rambling wordplay-filled monologue that takes up the entirety of this book is extremely grating.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Thu May 23, 2019 11:28 am

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Karl Stevens – The Winner
As someone who's not a particular lover of Stevens' work, it's been interesting to watch him grow up a little through his autobiographical comics, starting as a cocky young artist, obsessed with women and full of potential, and gradually curdling into some kind of misanthropic acceptance of his low status. It's not always the most pleasant ride but it's leading to some of his better work. He still includes endless portraits of women, but now they're all of his wife, which is kind of sweet, and he still creates his domestic vignettes where his beautiful draughtsmanship contrasts strangely with his bickering, sniping exchanges of dialogue, but he's going on more flights of fancy now: barbarians and crystals and cats in space – it helps vary the flow a bit. It's an odd effect he creates though, with the domestic scenes: the drawings are so lovely and stiff, it's like overhearing the petty complaints of oil paintings. Ultimately it's probably not going to win over the sceptics but it's probably the best thing I've seen from him.


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Walt Holcombe – Things Just Get Away From You
I couldn't connect with this at all. Holcombe mostly does very traditional slapstick cartoons a bit like Roger Langridge's Fred the Clown stuff. This collection is generally funny animals and fables, with the requisite weird attitude towards women. Not my cup of tea.


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Blutch – Total Jazz
This was really good, definitely my favourite Blutch after the heady Roman psychedlia of Peplum. It's a collection of mostly one or two page strips, often without dialogue, exploring the history and power of jazz from the perspective of a devoted fan. You can definitely argue about whether a white Frenchman is the best person to be working on this stuff, but Blutch's love for the artform is written all over this book, and his scratchy artwork is perfect for the explosions of skronky musicality and the dark smoky clubs that these stories explore. It's impressive as well how varied and entertaining he keeps the strips. You might get a little wordless joke about a trumpeter forgetting his trumpet, followed by an exploration of the historic depiction of black music in comics, followed by Sun Ra imagined riding the bus, followed by a sweet vignette about a kid getting her first kiss on the cheek from a boy. I found it often really touching.


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Warren Craghead – TRUMPTRUMP
I really don't understand people who want to invite more Trump into their lives than is strictly necessary. My friend's Mum called her goldfish Trump because it was orange. Why would you want to be reminded of that when you look at your goldfish? Seems like it defeats the point of having a goldfish in the first place. Craghead has the most purely poisonous vision of Trump I've ever seen, but for some reason has set himself the task of doing a daily Trump portrait, and Retrofit has seen fit to release it in their last two bundles. Craghead's portrayal of Trump as a malleable gobbet of festering pus is not subtle or nuanced, and the hundreds of portraits here have no narrative, although there is occasionally a kind of flipbook continuity between drawings as the creature sloshes around in its toxic wasteland. I think the obvious touchstone here is Ralph Steadman, but Steadman had a lot of fun and a lot of ideas for clever cartooning conceits to offset his savagery. Craghead doesn't seem to be interested, and this book seems unhealthy at worst, pointless at best.


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Lonnie Mann - Thoughts From Iceland
or the adventures of an extremely boring man in Iceland. Mann's travelogue covers two solo holidays, first in comic form and then as a series of small paintings. It seems like he had a nice time in Iceland but dear god this was dull. I don't know if there's anything that turns me off faster than saying Reddit shit in real life. “Cute coffee guy is cute.” You're genuinely killing me, Lonnie.


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Wilfrid Lupano & Gregory Panaccione – A Sea of Love
Finally (and congratulations if you reached the end of this marathon), a long and wordless tale following a fisherman and his wife who are parted when the fisherman's dinghy is pulled out to sea by a massive and oblivious trawler. The wife goes searching for him and becomes the toast of Cuba with her lace embroidery skills, while the husband befriends a seagull and a gang of pirates. There isn't much depth to this but it has strong art: a tasteful stew of Pixar and Belleville Rendezvous, with some Kyle Baker thrown in and some powerful moments of great scale as the fisherman narrowly avoids being consumed by repeated ecological disasters in process.
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Postby sevenarts » Thu May 23, 2019 10:01 pm

Wow, so many great reviews. I really loved Fielder too, the diversity of it was pretty welcome in showcasing lesser-seen sides of Huizenga and putting his Ganges work in the context of other things he's up to. He's been doing those relatively straight adaptations of old pulp comics for a while now, mostly in minicomics and occasional anthology appearances. The story in Fielder directly continues from a minicomic which is a pretty funny nod to the way old comics didn't really care about continuity and you could pick up a random issue in the middle of a story and just jump in. That vein of his work seems mostly like pure formalist experiments to me, a way to connect his work to a larger history of comics that he otherwise seems somewhat apart from. I do remember someone (Jog?) making the argument re: Fielder that the whole book becomes a kind of meta-narrative and the pulp material fits in in that sense.

That Liebl Beck book looks cool, too bad the only website selling it is Hebrew-text only.

I love Davidson, Lovers In the Garden is more of a genre piece with heavy Tarantino/70s pulp film references, as you say, but I adore it anyway, the coloring is AMAZING. Still, School Spirits and especially Band For Life are her real masterworks.

That Craghead thing is so baffling and sad to me. I'm not sure anybody else remembers but he used to make some of the most unusual comics I've ever seen, genuinely medium-expanding works that approached the "comics as poetry" angle in a way I've never seen anybody else even attempt. How To Be Everywhere was an incredible little book. Can't believe he's just doing these boring Trump caricatures these days.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Fri May 24, 2019 5:37 am

Re Craghead (and Liebl Beck as well I suppose), it seems like a mechanism for control. Satire might not actually change anything in the world but it helps you feel like you can exert some power over something that's otherwise disturbing and incomprehensible. For me it feels more like picking a wound but maybe for Craghead it's a necessary daily exorcism. Either way, it's a frustrating and fruitless artistic direction

Fielder aside, the Liebl Beck and Total Jazz are my picks of the week. I'm sure Alma would send you a copy of her book if you could track her down on social media. She had a bunch of other interesting-looking books with her as well. Total Jazz was really very enjoyable. Suspect I might go back to that one.

And Band for Life is on next week's reading pile :D
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Postby sevenarts » Fri May 24, 2019 8:41 am

Awesome :D

Total Jazz was good, definitely the best Blutch after Peplum and Mitchum, but there were some parts that really gnawed at me in a bad way. Maybe as you say it's just because he's a white Frenchman but there are definitely some parts in there that made me pretty umcomfortable. Shame because overall it's very interesting. I guess it wouldn't be a Blutch book without some bits that make you go :? regarding race and gender.
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Postby Wombatz » Fri May 24, 2019 1:23 pm

sevenarts wrote:Total Jazz was good ... but there were some parts that really gnawed at me in a bad way. Maybe as you say it's just because he's a white Frenchman but there are definitely some parts in there that made me pretty umcomfortable. Shame because overall it's very interesting. I guess it wouldn't be a Blutch book without some bits that make you go :? regarding race and gender.

like, putting a goebbels reference into the title of your jazz book :oops: i pretty much hated the book, even where it doesn't feel uncomfortable it still feels wrong ... for a whitey who sings the blues i always go to:

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Postby sevenarts » Tue Jun 04, 2019 10:50 pm

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Frontier #19 by Hannah Waldron
Following on from the ceramic issue, here's one dedicated to a weaver. It's pretty nice for what it is, Waldron's patterns and colors are very appealing and I really appreciate the way the book shows the front and back of each section on the front and back of the page, so that you can turn the page and see what's behind the patterns, the loose threads and negative-image colors hidden behind the fabric. The photos do a great job of capturing the textured surfaces of the weaving in 2D, too. I still want more meaty story issues of this anthology but this is cool.

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Pope Hats #6 by Hartley Lin
The first Pope Hats since the revelation that "Ethan Rilly" was a pseudonym/anagram, and appropriately enough it turns to straight autobio. It's a series of short strips, each just a page or two, mostly just 4 big panels to a page, about becoming a father and the slightly surreal sensations of caring for a newborn, seeing this weird little life growing so quickly. As is often the case with Pope Hats, this is nice and enjoyable but not exactly earthshaking. It's just clever enough to avoid cliches, mostly, without really being that inventive or surprising either. These little fragments and moments don't add up to anything nearly as potent as Lin's best work but there are some nice bits: simple, poetic descriptions of driving through the dark on a country road; the goofy surrealism of imagining a newborn, grown giant, tottering above his tiny dad; an affectionate couple of panels where someone tells a story to Lin about his wife at their wedding, and he imagines her, luminous, framed against a plain black background, dancing and smiling. Isolated moments aside, though, this is overall pretty slight.

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Afrodisiac by Brian Maruca & Jim Rugg
Another collaboration from the creative team behind Street Angel, this one is wayyyy less interesting and fun IMO. Where Street Angel really works on multiple levels, and has some surprising emotion to it, this one is all surface, akin to the weaker Benjamin Marra stuff. It casts 70s pulp/blaxploitation tropes in the style of the era's Marvel/DC superhero books, starring a pimp whose great power is that he can subvert any woman to his will. Rugg's cartooning is fun as ever, sleek and sexy, and his mimicry of 70s superhero fare is dead-on, but it all feels like a pretty empty exercise. I'd say that its attempts at deconstructing the racist/sexist stereotypes it traffics in aren't very successful, but even that seem generous - mostly it doesn't even seem interested in anything beyond pastiche.

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Illegal Batman by Ed Pinsent
Now here's a good genre parody/deconstruction - thanks Wombatz! This UK cartoonist's Batman is lumpy and misshapen, looking like a kid in an ill-fitting Batman costume, and he's basically paralyzed by indecision despite possessing near-godlike powers. So he sits around, thinking, and doesn't seem too bothered when the kidnapped kids he's looking for have totally disappeared by the time he gets to the villain's lair. This rules.

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Kid Mafia by Michael DeForge
An older, minor DeForge series, one of several genre-focused works that he started and then abandoned. This ran 4 issues as a minicomic, focusing on a group of teens navigating the end of high school and the start of college while simultaneously running a mafia family. The concept is pretty obviously funny and DeForge gets good mileage out of the simple friction between the awkward teen skateboarder/punk milieu and the mafia movie cliches. The art's pretty basic for him, too, just blobby black and white forms scribbled against bare backgrounds. An interesting glimpse into a much more straightforward - and less interesting - path DeForge could have taken, if he hadn't soon after ditched these kinds of series.
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Postby Wombatz » Thu Jun 06, 2019 4:06 am

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alienation by ines estrada. i was pretty stoked about this because of some absolutely gorgeous pages posted online and because i thought the sf theme would do her good (as she's the exception from the rule that i'm not usually a fan of comics about common youth hanging out/slacking in). and this does deliver, the cartooning is so good (another step up from the thread favorite impatience) that you relate to the characters from the first panel, plus there are those great spreads where fantasy or virtual reality take over ... unfortunately, the whole vr thing is incredibly pedestrian (there's even footnotes for vr and other 'tech' terms), so while emotionally the book always hits home (as in the scandinavian online friend who irl (footnote: in real life) is just a lump held alive by some hospital bed), as a piece of sf it is definitely underwhelming ... and that also takes away something from the everyday dialog, as it becomes part of a fiction, no longer of an 'authentic' worldview ... but whenever she lets go a little, this is really really good, and i hope she keeps moving toward a larger canvas ...
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Postby sevenarts » Sun Jun 09, 2019 10:52 pm

Alienation rules :D

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Lloyd Llewellyn by Daniel Clowes
Clowes' pre-Eightball series from the mid-80s is initially quite different from the work he'd soon be known for. Clowes' style is in place, albeit in rougher form, from the start - his feel for caricature, his memorably warped faces - but the noir pastiche of the subject matter is a bit of a surprise. The titular star is a private detective who has a series of wacky adventures: encounters with ghosts and aliens, unsolvable mysteries, constant seductions from a succession of curvy hourglass-shaped women in trouble. Clowes lays on the faux-noir patter so thick you can practically hear the overstuffed voiceover. The dedication to this winkingly retro style gets a bit much at times but a lot of it is pretty fun and the angular cartooning is already very appealing. As the series goes along, it becomes obvious how this material gave birth to Clowes' later work. The irony gradually curdles and gets darker, particularly in issue #5's pitch-black superhero parody, in which a Captain America figure is ruined when he gets addicted to the drugs that gave him his powers. By the 1988 final special, published after the series' cancellation, Clowes' future style is even more assured, looking forward to the queasy surrealist horror of "Like a Velvet Glove..." with a genuinely unsettling tale about a woman who turns her suitors into worms. As a whole this series is as uneven as most early work, but there are already some memorable, satisfying shorts, and its clear difference from later Clowes makes it an important showcase of his roots.

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Real Good Stuff/Extra Good Stuff by Dennis Eichhorn & various artists
A couple of later collections of Eichhorn's short stories, ranging from the late 90s after the end of his Real Stuff series to his later years. More or less more of the same for anyone who's read his earlier work - briskly paced vignettes from a very full and eventful life relating his weird little encounters with interesting characters, brushes with crime, lots of sex and drugs. Some old Real Stuff favorites like Mary Fleener and Triangle Slash show up again, and it's also nice to see younger artists like Noah Van Sciver and Tom Van Deusen take a stab at Eichhorn's world. Van Deusen's a natural fit for Eichhorn and his stories are fun, but Van Sciver has some of the best stuff here with a pair of stories about a schizophrenic who gives Eichhorn peyote during a food stamp inspection and later talks the author into helping him pan for gold. Most of the collection is right in Eichhorn's comfort zone like that, but there are a few interesting later pieces dealing with aging and mortality, notably an R.L. Crabb-drawn one about a hospital stay where Eichhorn gets stuck watching Fox News throughout a long surgery. Good stuff indeed - one last fun visit with this relentlessly funny and fascinating asshole.

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Leaving Richard's Valley by Michael DeForge
DeForge is one of those rare artists who so reliably produces an absolute deluge of work, at such a reliably high standard of quality, that it's easy to take him for granted. Another year, another great DeForge graphic novel or two. This is definitely another great one, in this case a collection of a daily comic strip he published on Instagram. Despite the rigorous daily format - each strip is one page, always four panels to a page except for the occasional full-page images - this doesn't feel at all restricted, or rather it feels like the restrictive format gave DeForge just the right form for his story. It's about a cult, and a group of animals who get banished from it for violating the leader's rules. More broadly, it's about trying to navigate a forbidding world with little place for those who don't fit in with society's conventions. Its anthropomorphic characters are outcasts, noise musicians, homeless drifters, squatters. The rhythm of the daily strips, accumulated this way, is interesting; sometimes DeForge really leans into the form, delivering self-consciously corny punchlines, while at other times a week's worth of strips will pass by with hardly a joke in sight, just a deadpan, melancholy series of mood pieces. Oddly enough, it strikes a similar vibe to me to Olivia Jaimes' current Nancy dailies, with the way it varies its form and experiments with joke-telling and character within the tight format. DeForge also experiments playfully with art, which is all black and white but varies the textures a lot - lots of photocopied backgrounds, sometimes to insert images but just as often to add amorphouse noise and texture around DeForge's impeccable blobby cartoons. It actually works really well as a GN too, because the real core of the book winds up being the characters and the gradual articulation of their personalities and interactions over the course of the book. And goddamn, I love the mice (??) who sing noise music.

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California Girls by Trina Robbins
This underground cartoonist took a few ahead-of-her-time stabs at making comics for girls in the 80s, once for Marvel and then again in this book for Eclipse. Aimed squarely at young girls and taking stuff like Archie and old teen comics as the template, this series featured twin high-schoolers Mo and Max and their friends mostly doing fairly normal teen activities. Not much to it - it's ostensibly a light humor book but it's not very funny, and it's not like there's a ton of depth to the characters to compensate. It's just a nice-looking book packed with 80s fashion - the main gimmick was that readers, mostly young girls but some boys too, would send in fashion drawings which Robbins would then model on the characters. Some of the fun is spotting when future or current comics pros would get a design featured: Paul Dini, Chuck Dixon (!), Mario Hernandez, Ken Steacy. Robbins' art is slightly stiff but very attractive, all clean curvy lines, charming as hell; later, Barb Rausch proves an able fill-in in a similar style. The covers tend to be the highlights because they're in color - like that fun image above - while in the black and white interiors, Robbins' super-clean cartooning begs so clearly for color that it looks like a coloring book. Maybe not a lost classic but a worthy attempt to push comics towards a very under-served and under-represented audience.

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Captivity by Xiang Yata
A haunting, enigmatic take on the Rapunzel fairy tale, with a generic handsome prince visiting a beautiful girl atop a tower, only to find that she doesn't want to leave. There are moments of gorgeous virtuoso drawing, but the bulk of the book is more minimalist, with Yata's delicate pencils leaving wispy, ghost-like impressions in white space. Yata's restraint and feel for ambiguity leaves plenty of room for the images to simply breathe, with very few words to distract from her freighted imagery. It's quite beautiful, at times lightly absurd, and always thought-provoking.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Mon Jun 10, 2019 3:27 am

Great reviews. It's nice to see Eichorn back here again - Real Stuff is one of my favourite discoveries from this thread

Went back for my third year of the East London Comics Art Festival on Friday and picked up this ridonkulous stack. Extremely excited about Eight Lane Runaways in particular

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Postby Wombatz » Mon Jun 10, 2019 6:43 am

what's that on the far right?
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Postby sevenarts » Mon Jun 10, 2019 6:55 am

That's a whole lotta stuff I'm not familiar with and curious about what it is. Looking forward to some reviews of that haul.

Awesome Brinkman shirt too, I'm jealous.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Mon Jun 10, 2019 6:58 am

Mariana Pita's Outside With the Cuties

https://sequentialstate.com/blog/review-outside-with-the-cuties-by-mariana-pita/

Edit: to Wombatz
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Postby HotFingersClub » Mon Jun 10, 2019 7:01 am

sevenarts wrote:That's a whole lotta stuff I'm not familiar with and curious about what it is. Looking forward to some reviews of that haul.


Unfortunately it'll be at least a few months at current rates of progress, but I'll get there eventually
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Postby sevenarts » Fri Jun 14, 2019 12:01 am

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Melody: Story of a Nude Dancer by Sylvie Rancourt
This is a remarkable book, both for the history and context behind it, and for the unique quality of the work itself. In the mid-80s, Rancourt was a nude dancer in Quebec, and began drawing a comic about her experiences, both on stage and in her private life with her no-good husband Nick. She printed them as mini-comics and sold them in the clubs to her customers. She did so well with this that she soon printed a more professional-looking run and distributed them to newstands. Though completely outside of any "comic scene," she was at the vanguard of self-publishing and DIY autobio comics, a real pioneer albeit an under-appreciated one - even after D&Q collected her 7 lengthy comics from 1985-1986 into a thick volume a few years back.

Although the whole idea is fascinating in so many ways, these comics would be an absolute wonder even without all the context. Rancourt's style is direct, both visually and textually. Her characters speak in blunt, declarative sentences, and her drawings are rough and minimalist, with an unstudied freeness of proportions and wide-eyed, often blankly expressionless faces. But she gets such amazing subtlety out of such blunt tools, telling free-ranging stories of humor, warmth, sadness, and great empathy. There's no trace of the moralist in her work, but nor is this a sugar-coated optimistic celebration of her lifestyle - there's a sense of objectivity in Rancourt's directness, a sense that she's just laying out the facts as she's experienced them. Her unschooled art is incredibly charming, infused with an obvious love of drawing and a playfulness that helps prevent the darker bits from becoming too oppressive.

Though there's plenty of that darkness here, it's the playfulness that really sticks with me: the cute meta-gags when she reaches the end of her pagecount in each issue, the way her erotic scenes so often have the girls crossing their eyes and sticking out their tongues instead of trying to titillate, the way her crowd scenes always have an Altman-esque clatter of voices all acting out their absurd little dramas. All these touches suggest that Rancourt's superficially un-technical style makes it too easy to dismiss her cartooning and storytelling skill - she's in absolute control of the rhythms, the compositions, the way she packs her panels with so many little details and moments. And when she's at her most directly funny she's a master humorist, too; the second issue, in which Melody tries to get adult puppet shows to catch on during her routines, is the most I've literally laughed out loud at a comic in a long while. Great, great stuff, all of this, an essential book.

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Melody (Kitchen Sink series) by Sylvie Rancourt & Jacques Boivin
Not collected by D&Q was the prequel follow-up series: after winding down her minicomics, Rancourt attracted the attention of American indie publisher Kitchen Sink, who liked what they saw in her comics - kind of. Kitchen Sink didn't dig the art, and they didn't like Rancourt's blunt in-media-res storytelling, which simply started the first issue right as she became a dancer. So Rancourt wrote a lengthy prologue, in a somewhat wordier style, which with a new artist as well (Jacques Boivin, who'd been working with Rancourt on covers, colors, lettering, and translations already) became the basis for a 10-issue series. It's a pretty obvious step-down. There are still flashes of fun and insight in Rancourt's writing, but Boivin's art is joyless and generic, the kind of accomplished-but-stiff drawing that flooded comic shops and clogged up anthology pages during the 80s b&w boom. Moreover, maybe because the art has become more technical, or maybe thanks to Kitchen Sink's urging, the book edges much closer to straight-up porn, ironically, than it ever had when Rancourt was distributing it in her clubs. Pretty disappointing - stick to the D&Q collection.

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Pentti and Deathgirl by Emma Rendel
Good HFC rec from a while back. Two short stories both done in a blobby, textural DeForgian style. Rendel's warped figures, with their tiny limbs, bloated bodies, and heads dangling limply off elongated necks, owe a lot to DeForge but are uniquely skewed in ways that make them seem especially sad and pathetic. I especially liked the first of these stories, about a pair of brothers, one of whom nurses a violent homophobic streak, obviously to cover up for his own homosexual desires. The material verges on cliche but Rendel makes everything feel so intense, so outrageously heightened, that it's compelling in spite of the familiarity. Her characters sweat and pulse, their faces contorted with thick lines as their emotions leak out of them. The second story, in which an outcast young girl tries to fit in but finds that her psychopathic gestures of friendship only alienate others further, is also good.

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Magical Beatdown by Jenn Woodall
Pretty straightforward minicomics in which a Sailor Moon-esque "magical girl" enacts revenge fantasies on male harassers and bullies. Like Ben Marra with a feminist edge, which is a pretty welcome reversal actually. Not very much to it, but they're lovingly made, Woodall's art is clean and attractive and the printing - in which the "reality" sequences are in blue while the fantasy sections are rendered in an eye-searing glossy pink - makes the whole thing look especially good. Fine empty calories.

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Giraffes In My Hair by Bruce Paley & Carol Swain
HFC gave this a tepid review a while back and it never looked appealing to me either but my desire for more Swain finally won out. Yea, not great. Paley seems to have led an interesting life, going out on the road as a young man at the height of the 60s, travelling the country, palling around with Johnny Thunders (!!), and spending some dark times addicted to heroin. But though the material is almost intrinsically interesting (albeit not exactly unique), Paley relates these anecdotes dispassionately, in a sedate authorial voice almost like they happened to someone else. I didn't find much to hang onto here - characters come and go without much impact, and Paley never builds a real momentum to the story, instead just skipping around to choice anecdotes. It feels like a book written just for himself and maybe some close friends - those who were there, or know him well, may be able to fill in the gaps, but it's a pretty chilly read for anyone else. Swain's art is as great as ever, of course, but seeing it alongside Paley's words reinforces how much her writing and feel for dialogue set the mood in her own stories - the magic isn't here. One funny highlight though was seeing her trace/tribute Kirby's Galactus and Silver Surfer when Paley talks about his own love of comics.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Fri Jun 14, 2019 4:59 am

That's interesting to know about Rancourt. I read the Kitchen Sink series without any awareness of the context and thought it was fine but wasn't prompted to seek out more. The original series looks much more interesting.

We're on the same page about Giraffes in my Hair - a missed opportunity
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Postby HotFingersClub » Fri Jun 14, 2019 6:49 am

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Anna Sellheim – Everything's Fine
These are old-fashioned neurotic diary comics with a cultivated amateurish feel. Sellheim typically picks a colour scheme and drills down into a small moment enacted by her little abstracted avatars, usually one in which she feels bad about something she's done or thought. Honesty is the method and the motive here, placed above every other consideration. What it lacks is much insight or a fresh angle


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Anya Davidson – Band for Life
This was a blast. In sequential, page-long strips, Davidson tells an epic saga of a bunch of misfits in a noise/punk bad who come absolutely nowhere near fame and fortune. Together they rattle through a few months trying to keep the band in one piece in the face of relationships, capitalism and various other practical considerations. In a macro sense, it's definitely less about trying to make music than it is trying to keep a group of friends together and on the same path. There's a lot to love in this book – particularly the wild colours and the Tolstoyan size of the saga and the cast – but what's especially nice to see is the way the earnestness and good natures of these characters are always foregrounded and contrasted with the aesthetics of the band. It's a great examination of pursuing your passion while remaining human.


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Soup & Sausage – Protein Pumpers
Tricked by the exciting colours, I lost a few precious minutes of my life to this extremely basic action movie doodle before I clocked it and skimmed the rest. Sometimes it seems like indie comix run on a slurry of this stuff and I have no idea what people are getting out of it.


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Seth – George Sprott 1894-1975
I have not historically been a big Seth fan but this book worked its magic on me in a big way. Like a few of Seth's longer pieces, it's an examination of a life, meticulously imagined. As a young man, George was an explorer of the Canadian north, but for the past 40 years he's been the host of a charmingly boring TV show in which he spins old yarns of his polar adventures and then runs some of his ancient footage while nodding off behind his desk. Through vignettes, interviews and montage, a portrait of a complex man is developed, although perhaps no more complex than any other. What's so spellbinding about the book is the atmosphere: a fugue of memory based on musty regional museums, black and white TV, and frosty cloudless nights in empty cities. There's a tremendous richness to the shadows and architecture of Seth's world here, and how his clean and simple cartooning brings George to life. You can see it in the page above, which is a pretty typical example: the way those tiny panels move by and George changes slightly in every instant, flickering between charming TV raconteur and tired old man. It's a great book, deceptively unique in Seth's canon, it feels excitingly like it's in dialogue with Guy Maddin as a representative of a peculiar Canadian aesthetic.


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Jamie Coe – Art Schooled
First a disclaimer: I'm not really sure how this operates in relation to Daniel Clowes' Art School Confidential, which I haven't read, and is all that comes up when you do a GIS. Coe's book is a chronicle of a country mouse spending a few years at art school in London. It's less acidic than Clowes and definitely less anarchic than Matthew Thurber's Art Comic from a couple of pages back, and it oscillates mainly between minor love and friendship dramas and a kind of field guide to various art school tribes and tropes. Coe's a good artist and Nobrow's production is gorgeous as usual, but this left a real bad taste in my mouth by the end. Coe's avatar – sensitive, humble and down to earth on the face of it – is a pretty gross character, clearly still feeling entitled to his love interest after all these years, paying little attention to her personality or wants and painting her actual boyfriend as the worst kind of art jock meathead. Also, and despite the setting, Coe seems to have no interest in art and open scorn for almost everyone who engages with it. His point that cartooning is a valid art form is perfectly reasonable but he absolutely does not afford that same respect to his fellow students or their work. There's a scene at the end where the students see his cartoons and become outraged at the way he's depicted them, and you can't help feeling they have a point. Under the guise of being a humble and straightforward observer of the human condition is a relentless misanthropy and antipathy towards art. The more I think about it, the less I like it.
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Postby sevenarts » Fri Jun 14, 2019 10:51 am

So beyond psyched that you enjoyed Band For Life :D Such a warm, fun, and supremely positive book. It's so damn hard to make something that's genuinely joyous and utopian like this without just coming across as corny and simplistic, but Davidson really nails it IMO. Probably because, while it's utopian as hell, like you say it's also very human and grounded in its characters first of all.

I think George Sprott might be the only Seth I haven't read. I like a lot of what he does but it all gets pretty samey very quick, and he has a few pet themes that he chases to the detriment of all else. I enjoyed a lot of Palookaville the last time I read/re-read it all, but I felt pretty done with his worldview by the end.
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Postby sevenarts » Sun Jun 16, 2019 11:14 pm

Here's a super-random assortment of blurbs as a result of plowing through some of my download backlog...

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How To Be Alive by Tara Booth
A brisk collection of short silent strips in which Booth's avatar steps through a series of routine domestic activities. I find Booth's drawings really ugly - I think it's deliberate but that doesn't make me feel any better about it. All those garish clashing colors, the way she draws herself (presumably?) as an exaggeratedly unappealing caricature, it feels purposeful but the effect is still unpleasant. It might work if there was more to this formally or narratively but there just isn't.

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It's a Wonderful Strife by Nick Drnaso
Oftentimes checking out the early work of an artist is instructive and interesting, providing early glimpses of their ideas and styles in raw form. Other times it makes me wonder if I was on the wrong track to even like their later stuff. This is definitely in that latter camp, a way early work from 2010, 6 years before his breakthrough GN Beverly. He must've been very young here, so young it's not really fair to pick on, but damn this is a nasty piece of work, misanthropic and misogynist, this curdled outpouring of male indie artist aggression in the guise of a parody of a Christmas classic. The lumpy b&w art is very ugly, somewhat deliberately, all ungainly figures and heavy black lines, very different from the aesthetic he'd later refine. Drnaso's interest in outsiders and social awkwardness is already apparent, but in such a mean-spirited way compared to the empathy and subtlety he'd exhibit a few years later. Don't read this.

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Sprawling Heart by Sab Meynert
Not exactly a comic, mostly more like an art book with a set of semi-abstract images and disembodied hands and such, accompanied by vague motivational poetry. Most of it does absolutely nothing for me but there are a few gorgeous double-page spreads towards the end where she drops the text and just creates these intricate designs that, despite still being non-narrative and essentially abstract, hint at comics in the way she breaks up the images into sections and inserts. Meynert's drafting is pristine and I could've gone for a whole book of her cutting loose in that vein, but unfortunately most of this is really uninspired.

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Idyl by Jeffrey Catherine Jones
A collection of one-page strips from National Lampoon, most of which star a naked pregnant woman musing philosophically, often interacting with anthropomorphized objects or animals. Jones draws beautifully, these pristine realistic images with thin, fragile lines set against acres of white space. It's pretty easy to see where the appeal lies when the strip is centered around a gorgeous naked woman drawn with this level of dynamism and craft. But the strips usually end with punchlines that make me scratch my head in confusion or groan, not actually laugh, and the "philosophy" is about as shallow as a puddle.

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The Green Hand and Other Stories by Nicole Claveloux (and Edith Zha)
Yet another interesting NYRC archival find, collecting a handful of 70s/early 80s stories from this rather obscure French cartoonist. Claveloux's work fits in quite comfortably with the American undergound, though I like her aesthetic a helluva lot more than just about any non-Crumb undergrounder - there's such clarity and feel for space in her work, none of the cramped, dense layouts and wordy excess that clutter so many American undergounds of the same era. The title story is the main draw here, written by Edith Zha, a surrealist fantasy in which a woman and a bird have a bitter relationship, break up, and go on inexplicable journeys. It's a jaw-dropping comic, visually. Claveloux's drawing is richly textured and detailed, with moody shadows draped over everything, but as good as she is with a pen it's her color sensibility which really stands out: all these sickly, garish hues, when combined with her intricate hatching, create this hyper-unreal atmosphere that's utterly unique. The art is good enough that it hardly matters that the story is pretty basic surreal wandering without much depth behind it. Nothing in the second half of the book comes anywhere close to this either - mostly a lot of short surrealist gag strips that are never very funny - and the color is sorely missed. Still, well worth a look just for "The Green Hand" itself, even if just to luxuriate in its vibe.

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The Job Thing by Carol Tyler
A short set of themed autobio comics from the early 90s, all of them about shitty jobs and the struggle of making ends meet for someone just a few rungs up, if that, from total poverty. Tyler's cartooning is nice enough, in an unshowy way, but her pages are pretty cluttered and busy, which would make this a rough read if her storytelling wasn't so brisk and enjoyable. She's funny, scattered, self-deprecating, and has plenty of rich anecdotes about her job and money struggles. This is what I'd think of as solid, meat-and-potatoes indie comics - nothing mind-blowing, just a good quick read.

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You'll Never Know AKA Soldier's Heart by Carol Tyler
On the other hand, it's kind of baffling that this much later work by Tyler isn't widely known as a graphic novel classic. This wide-ranging epic covers Tyler's attempts to connect with and understand her WW2 veteran father, a cantankerous, difficult presence in her life who'd never opened up about his wartime experiences. The book is in a horizontal format mirroring the scrapbook that Tyler is assembling for her dad, and the scrapbook provides a great metaphor for Tyler's diverse approach here. This is a meta-narrative above all else, as much about the process of telling a story and all the stuff happening around that process as it is about the core story itself. Thus, Tyler intersperses straightforward "scrapbook" sections which sort her father's WW2 experiences into a chronological narrative, but around those pages the story sprawls out in all directions: Tyler's ongoing marital strife with her philandering husband (famed underground cartoonist Justin Green), their daughter's depression and mental illness, and a patchwork of memories and anecdotes relating to Tyler's relationship with both her parents. What makes the book so special is how freely it wanders, and how well everything fits together in spite of its lack of focus. A tightly honed book about her father, PTSD, and the legacy of WW2's impact on the "greatest generation" sits somewhere in the middle of this epic, but it's all the color at the edges, the family dramas and little domestic scenes, the meta-commentary about the work in progress, that makes this really shine. Tyler's warm, idiosyncratic cartooning is more polished than ever, beautifully colored, and the horizontal format encourages her to stretch out into unusual layouts frequently.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Mon Jun 17, 2019 6:42 am

Lovely stuff, good to see you tackle some odds and ends actually. I feel like those "why did he even read those in the first place" books are usually my purview

That Drnaso book is crazy. Looks and sounds like basically the exact opposite of his current style. I wonder what happened in the intervening years for him to change so much

I'm glad you enjoyed The Green Hand. After my initial extremely positive response it's slipped from memory a little bit, probably because there's not really a cogent narrative to string it together. The art and imagery are truly spectacular though
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Postby Wombatz » Wed Jun 26, 2019 3:07 am

sevenarts wrote: ... my desire for more Swain finally won out ...

maybe you all sung her praises before i was here ... but (pleasures of this thread) this remark made me check out a name unknown to me and i found a cheap copy of

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foodboy by carol swain. oh wow, this is great, thick with atmosphere. everybody is wearing the same expression like a pose sewn into their faces, insecure yet cool, not quite comprehending but really it doesn't matter, that's so on point. i will get her other stuff as speedily as the budget allows, so my desire for more swain can be naturally fulfilled.

i also read

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brighter than you think, 10 short pieces by alan moore, complete with essays and stuff from uncivilized. hm. first of all, especially the color comics look like bootlegs. the works themselves are all over the place, from absolutely brilliant (i keep coming back with oscar zarate) to boring pseudo-essayistic stuff, homages to traditional ec punchline comics and fun but not quite essential collabs with auteurs mark beyer or peter bagge. the essays by marc sobel are mildly academic and sure explain a lot but don't aim to inspire, and this kind of exegesis of what in the end are mostly minor works can feel like doing homework. on the whole, i wish this were less pedestrian but it's still worth a read.
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