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 » Fri Oct 26, 2018 4:02 pm

for me it all would have worked (she's not supposed to be a hardened heroin addict but a girl into drugs, and the ending was kind of satisfying as for herself she made the right choice even if she had to betray someone, so the nice summery colors made sense) ... except for that cringe-inducing record collection thing. yes we all like some of that stuff. oh how i wish my (drug free because too little) kids would like some of that stuff. vic chesnutt and billie holiday and hunky dory best of all. totally amazing what genius in full flight can do to a record. barf.
User avatar
Wombatz
 
Posts: 188
Joined: Fri May 12, 2017 5:40 am

Postby sevenarts » Mon Oct 29, 2018 11:13 pm

Finally getting into Bryan Talbot...

Image
The Adventures of Luther Arkwright
Talbot's first big work, originally serialized in the UK. It's very much of a piece with other 80s British b&w comics in a lot of ways, fitting in neatly with the British Invasion crew who would soon take over American superhero books, though Talbot himself, aside from the occasional art job, never seemed too interested in that whole scene, or maybe he just wasn't as amenable to the contours of American comics as some of his peers. To be sure, though this kind of is a superhero adventure it's a very strange and difficult one. It is remarkably dense, its multi-dimensional narrative deliberately jumbled and scrambled, often with little to orient the reader in quite what's going on. Talbot's pages are dense, dark, often wordy, packed with historical allusions, large blocks of newsprint text, imagery arranged into hallucinatory collages. Typical 80s UK comic preoccupations abound: Cromwell, fascism, sci-fi, sex as a mystical focal point. Eventually the story's shape becomes clearer and the climactic issues are action-packed showcases, primarily, for Talbot's masterful formalist command of time and space. Issue #7 takes place entirely in the moments immediately preceding a series of climaxes, and Talbot stretches time, holding these moments for page after page, elongating the suspense and honing in on the details of these frozen seconds right before everything comes to a head. Great stuff, as is the bloody, slightly melancholy catharsis of the following issue, in which Talbot continues to slow time, focusing almost unbearably on very specific moments of violence and revenge. And then the final issue provides some data dumps, abruptly explaining large chunks of the story in a few text-heavy pages. I feel like there had to be some more middle ground between dizzyingly impenetrable and overly expository, but this remains a fascinating book, even if large parts of it I find way easier to admire than to fully enjoy.

Image
The Tale of One Bad Rat
Basically as far as it's possible to get from the Arkwright saga. For this rather stripped-down tale of a young woman fleeing years of abuse and setting off on her own path, struggling to heal and find a place for herself, Talbot cleans up his style tremendously. None of the verbal or visual density of Arkwright here, this moves with the directness and poetry of a child's storybook - like the Peter Rabbit books of Beatrix Potter, whose work informs and inspires Talbot's work here a great deal. Talbot's clean, thick-lined art is beautiful, as are the mostly pastoral colors, especially in the second half of the book as Helen, the young runaway, reaches the English countryside that Potter so loved. This is beautifully drawn and constructed, extremely moving, and obviously well-researched, with much sensitivity and compassion around the psychology of dealing with trauma and abuse. It's a quiet masterpiece, its initial melancholy and depression gradually giving way to well-earned recovery, acceptance, and learning.

Image
Heart of Empire
Here's Talbot's sequel to the first Arkwright cycle, but done in a clearer, much less dizzying style. Unlike the first story, which leapt wildly among parallel dimensions and followed several overlapping but distinct narrative threads, this sequel is mainly set in a single reality. It deals with the aftermath of the first book's revolution in one alternate reality, in which a Cromwellian Puritan dictatorship was overthrown in favor of a royalist monarchy. Years later, that government too has descended into corruption and repression, led by a psychic vampire queen who's intent on enslaving the entire world. In addition to being a viscerally thrilling sci-fi/fantasy adventure yarn, the book is Talbot's raw, satirical portrait of Britain's history as an exploitative empire. The book seethes with a savage wit that's bitterly funny as often as it is deeply sad - where the first Arkwright was certainly packed with harrowing depictions of the world's many dysfunctions, here Talbot's satire has curdled, turned even nastier and funnier, served very well by the clarity and precision of the grotesque caricatures he uses to capture his villains. Talbot's art just keeps getting better - this is even more gorgeous than One Bad Rat, with a similar thick-lined style but with much more detail, fully capturing the gaudy excesses of a rotting empire. By turns jaw-droppingly dark and startlingly, grossly funny, this is a really unique and fantastic book. Though it doesn't have the formal pyrotechnics or daring of the original Arkwright, I wound up loving this one in a way I couldn't really do with the much chillier, more cerebral first story.

Image
Grandville
I don't see much discussion of this, Talbot's 5-volume steampunk alternate history talking animal epic, which on the one hand I understand, because look at how I just described it, but on the other hand these comics are freaking amazing. All the absurdity and vicious satire of the Arkwright books is here, married to an absolutely rock-solid genre foundation of pulpy murder mysteries. Talbot's world-building is phenomenal, crafting this elaborate alternate history in which Britain is only recently independent from a world-spanning French empire, in a world where talking animals of all species proliferate and only humans are considered a lower caste, enslaved and mocked as "doughfaces." The first book sets the template, as a Sherlock Holmes-like badger inspector is called in to solve a murder, accompanied by his Watson-like rat assistant. This mystery, like the ones in later books, winds up leading into much darker and stranger territory than expected, ultimately exposing corruption and wild conspiracy theories at the highest levels of politics and religion. Each book delves into parodies and allegories for real-world conspiracies, both actual and imagined - 9/11 truthers, secretive cults, the capitalist funding of abstract expressionism as an aesthetic weapon against socialists. These books are very satisfying as elaborate, action-packed intrigues, but neither their well-done procedural mechanics nor the cutesy animal characters can obscure the darkness at the core of these stories. Talbot's whimsical animal creations routinely do horrible violence to one another - even the hero, always so convinced of his own rightness, is often shockingly brutal and stumbles into commiting atrocities of his own. But it's the larger violence of society - government oppression, the suppression and genocide of minority groups, the demonization of outsiders, the exploitation of working classes by the super-rich - that's always the real horror behind these mysteries. Though Talbot's determined inspector always takes his fists and his guns right to the highest seats of power in pursuit of answers, and the villains often get a bloody ending, the larger structures never change, and new evils simply step in to fill the gaps.


And bonus non-Talbot content:

Image
Survive 300,000,000 Vol. 1 by Pat Aulisio
I've read a few Aulisio books now and I think I'm just never going to have Wombatz's enthusiasm for him. This is fine, as sketchy post-Fort Thunder, post-apocalyptic wandering stories go, but it's just not very exciting to me. Aulisio's art is fun to look at, with his ragged figures wandering through busy landscapes of rubble and strange machinery, nauseating colors slathered over everything to fully capture the feel of the futuristic wasteland. But at least for me it never rises above that level of "fun," there's not enough there in either art or story to make it really interesting or stand out from the countless other books pretty much exactly like this.
User avatar
sevenarts
 
Posts: 4751
Joined: Fri Dec 17, 2010 4:05 pm
Location: NY

Postby HotFingersClub » Tue Oct 30, 2018 7:21 am

Oh man, thank you for those Talbot write-ups. So much fun to see you tackling his stuff for the first time. He's a unique creator and often overlooked. Heart of Empire is one of my personal favourites too, although I definitely didn't like the Grandville series as much as you seem to.

If this is all the Talbot you've read, though, you're still missing some of his best works imo. I think Alice in Sunderland is his opus, Dotter of Her Father's Eyes is really good. There's also the (possibly very obscure) Teknophage series from the 90s about an immortal psychic dinosaur in a smoking jacket, ruling all he surveys from his gigantic mobile fortress. Working from a concept by Neil Gaiman, initially written by Rick Veitch and illustrated by Talbot, then later written by Talbot as well. It's been at least eight years since I read it but I remember being really surprised at how enjoyable it was.

Image
User avatar
HotFingersClub
 
Posts: 1316
Joined: Tue Sep 02, 2014 3:31 am

Postby Wombatz » Tue Oct 30, 2018 7:30 am

Image

:)
User avatar
Wombatz
 
Posts: 188
Joined: Fri May 12, 2017 5:40 am

Postby sevenarts » Tue Oct 30, 2018 7:48 am

HotFingersClub wrote:an immortal psychic dinosaur in a smoking jacket


Image :shock:

Thanks for the further recs, Teknophage looks wild and I'd definitely like to read the books he's done with his wife. I did read Alice back when it came out and liked it a lot but somehow never followed up with his other work. Talbot does seem pretty overlooked and taken for granted these days, despite a really impressive body of work. I guess he's pretty tough to pin down and summarize given the breadth that this stuff covers.
User avatar
sevenarts
 
Posts: 4751
Joined: Fri Dec 17, 2010 4:05 pm
Location: NY

Postby HotFingersClub » Tue Oct 30, 2018 10:46 am

Woah is that Devil Dinosaur? Must be some kind of homage surely

Or maybe dinosaurs in smoking jackets are just one of those intrinsic collective unconscious human ideas that we all have access to from the moment of the first stirrings of thought
User avatar
HotFingersClub
 
Posts: 1316
Joined: Tue Sep 02, 2014 3:31 am

Postby sevenarts » Tue Oct 30, 2018 11:05 am

Yeah, Devil Dinosaur from Warren Ellis’ Nextwave. Obviously an homage to Gaiman/Talbot. I always loved that moment and now knowing it’s an homage to Teknophage makes me want to go grab that immediately.

Nextwave has nothing to do with this thread generally but it’s really really fun and anyone with any affection for superheroes should read it.
User avatar
sevenarts
 
Posts: 4751
Joined: Fri Dec 17, 2010 4:05 pm
Location: NY

Postby Wombatz » Tue Oct 30, 2018 11:48 am

sevenarts wrote:Nextwave is really really fun

those double splash pages!

Image
User avatar
Wombatz
 
Posts: 188
Joined: Fri May 12, 2017 5:40 am

Postby HotFingersClub » Tue Oct 30, 2018 5:56 pm

I have actually read Nextwave a few times and for some reason forgot DD was in it.

One of the best pages of the 21st century:
Image
User avatar
HotFingersClub
 
Posts: 1316
Joined: Tue Sep 02, 2014 3:31 am

Postby sevenarts » Tue Oct 30, 2018 8:44 pm

HotFingersClub wrote:I have actually read Nextwave a few times and for some reason forgot DD was in it.


That's apparently because you'd already read Teknophage and were just like "oh another dinosaur in a smoking jacket, ho hum. Doesn't anyone have any new ideas?"
User avatar
sevenarts
 
Posts: 4751
Joined: Fri Dec 17, 2010 4:05 pm
Location: NY

Postby Wombatz » Wed Oct 31, 2018 4:21 am

it's not exactly a smoking jacket, but here's a cartoon from 1830, like the day after we learned about dinos

Image
User avatar
Wombatz
 
Posts: 188
Joined: Fri May 12, 2017 5:40 am

Postby HotFingersClub » Wed Oct 31, 2018 4:32 am

That's the last time I get owned by Professor Ichthyosaurus
User avatar
HotFingersClub
 
Posts: 1316
Joined: Tue Sep 02, 2014 3:31 am

Postby HotFingersClub » Wed Oct 31, 2018 12:59 pm

Image
Michael DeForge – Acrobat
This is a series that DeForge is apparently releasing on his Patreon in short, newspaper strip instalments. I just found it on 4chan but I’m definitely going to sign up to the Patreon now, particularly because this seems to be unfinished. In a presentational sense it has the hallmarks of minor DeForge but I think it’s really excellent. It tells the melancholy tale of a circus performer and stuntman, firstly as his brother is devoured by a lion, and then as he becomes a body double for a reclusive celebrity. The colours on this are absolutely extraordinary, and the melting psychedelic formalism is some of the most compelling I’ve seen from DeForge this year (it’s a crowded field alright), only enhanced by some new experiments in pencil shading. I particularly loved the liquid motif of the acrobat working out, pouring sweat to the extent that he seems to be dissolving, thinking about the time he slit his wrists and threatened to become liquid in another way. Fascinating stuff as always.

Image
Eric Kostiuk Williams – Our Wretched Town Hall
This was part of Retrofit’s 2018 bundle, a new collection from the gloopy and unique Williams, again mostly working with pop music and gay clublife. His art and compositional sense are as trippy as ever, and there are a couple of really good stories in here, including a particularly Deforgian one in which a waiter turns the body of his abuser into a hit restaurant. What it lacks is much of a sense of focus. Things seem to skip, stutter and end prematurely to the extent that I’m still not sure Retrofit didn’t fuck up my PDF. Williams also includes a bunch of ephemera and filler in the form of random band posters and pinups, not doing much to dispel the sense of this book as an odds and ends collection.

Image
Charles Glaubitz – Starseeds
This is Glaubitz’s Fantagraphics release from last year, riding at the back of the science fiction cosmology bandwagon being led by Brandon Graham and Jesse Moynihan. It’s a fantastic looking book, mostly silent, using a limited palette of black, white and yellow. The pages explode with energy and detail – Glaubitz’s textures run the gamut between Prison Pit and Mesmo Delivery. However, it doesn’t really go anywhere. You get the sense pretty quickly that Glaubitz is in it as a drawing exercise – the plot is just about finding the shortest route to the next laser beam.

Image
David Small – Stitches
So this is a bit of a misery memoir, but fair play it is an interesting one. The deep repression in Small’s family led to a lot of very strange and troubling situations over his adolescence, and he certainly communicates well the bleakness, his sense of his own fragility and what it was like to grow up without love. And it’s just about crazy enough that it’s not horribly depressing. He doesn’t really manage to penetrate the mysteries of either of his parents here – only in the backmatter is he really reaching towards understanding rather than condemnation, although condemnation is certainly warranted. His cartooning is mostly sketchy and simple, scratched out on bare white pages in a way that communicates a lot of pain and anger. In the moments where he can escape depictions of his family, he does some lovely compositional stuff around escaping into a world of cartoons. It's not been a great week's reading for me but I think this one is worth checking out.

Image
Wilbert van der Steen – Sun
Not my favourite from Europe Comics. This is a 50s melodrama set in a family of wealthy coffee roasters, following the illegitimate son of the callous heiress. The story of the innocent boy being rescued from his evil mother by his low-status father is not interesting and frankly pretty misogynistic. All the men here are kindly and benign, struggling to preserve their innocence from their harpyish women. Like you wouldn't think from the page above that the author is firmly on the side of the father in this scene. Blech.

Image
Benjamin Reiss – Super Tokyoland
This is a looong autobiog comic about Reiss’s six years as a Frenchman living in Japan, alternately working at an international school and being a mangaka’s assistant. It really packs in the detail but never quite takes flight. We spend all our time with Reiss but he remains a bit of a cipher, and doesn’t seem to have a great deal of self-awareness about essentially stalking a girl to Japan. The ground level view of Tokyo is sometimes very interesting, especially during the sections where he’s working as a background artist for some (actually pretty significant) mangakas, but those sections for me were re-treading ground covered very ably in Bakuman. Reiss’s art is a slightly uncomfortable mixture of styles: he gives his own avatar an appealing cartoony design but the rest of the book is both more detailed and a lot uglier – I guess you can see the parallels in some manga, although it doesn’t mesh well with his loose cartooning. Definitely doesn’t help that Top Shelf have given the whole thing a patina of mud, either.

Image
Pat Aulisio – Survive 300,000,000
Already covered well by the Wombatz and Sevenarts. I knocked off both volumes of this over my lunchbreak today and it was basically fine for me also, although personally I don’t think it quite hit the level of fun. Something a little below fun. Kind of a melange of a whole bunch of scifi/apocalypse images plugged into a very basic action story. These kind of books are not really my thing, and this is certainly an example of one of these kind of books. I did like the colours though, and all the weird effects Aulisio layers on top of his psychic explosions.
User avatar
HotFingersClub
 
Posts: 1316
Joined: Tue Sep 02, 2014 3:31 am

Postby sevenarts » Sat Nov 03, 2018 7:36 pm

A real hodge-podge this time...

Image
Now #4 by various
We've talked before about how this anthology is not exactly living up to its mission statement of delivering a big modernist statement. Every issue has had good stuff but overwhelmed by all the filler and fluff. This issue feels particularly weak, though. Basically there are only 2 really worthwhile stories. Tommi Parrish does a great one where the top 2/3 of the page is a gorgeous painted comic about a couple having an awkward, half-antagonistic conversation on a hot, uncomfortable morning, while the bottom 1/3 of the page is a line of black-and-white strips where one of the partners discusses their eventual breakup. And Matthias Lehmann does a very Josh Simmons-esque few pages about a grandmother relishing her brief moments with her grandson in an otherwise very lonely life - it's deeply sad but also eerie and unsettling in very ambiguous ways. The rest of the book doesn't have a lot to hold onto. Many of the artists have interesting aesthetics and visual approaches - I liked looking at Rebecca Kirby, Maria Medem, Brian Blomerth, J.C. Menu's very classical cartooning chops, a few others - but the bulk of the stories feel like fragments and the few that don't still aren't very substantial. I feel like Eric Reynolds has to have the taste to know he's not really publishing vital, best-of-the-medium work here despite the need to hype it as cutting edge.

Image
Helter Skelter by Kyoko Okazaki
Cult classic one-volume manga about a supermodel who's been subjected to extreme body-altering plastic surgery, replacing virtually her entire body and identity. The main character, Liliko, torments and manipulates everyone around her, even as she herself is used by an exploitative manager who's already starting to replace her with a younger, fresher girl. This is absolutely bonkers on a story level - Liliko subjects her pliant assistant to psychosexual torture and forces her to throw acid in the faces of her rivals, while the shoddy experiments of the cosmetic clinic that made Liliko so beautiful lead to unsettling body horror moments throughout. And yet in the midst of all the manic lunacy, this is also a deeply sad and fucked-up look at celebrity culture and the obsession with beauty that drives it. Okazaki's very unique style - much more raw and loose than most manga - also adds to the book's effect. Her art, with its ragged lines and tendency to drop out detail - the characters are often quite literally faceless, their heads either cut off by the panel borders or else drawn as blank ovals without features - lends an incredible intensity to every moment and every snatch of cutting dialogue. With its emphasis on dangerous femininity and characters who are both victims and villains, this seems an obvious inspiration for modern cartoonists like Sarah Horrocks and Katie Skelly, and I was utterly unsurprised to quickly find an appreciation of it by Horrocks. Very much recommended, this is phenomenal.

Image
Wally Gropius by Tim Hensley
I remember a while ago HFC absolutely hated this, and I thought maybe I was just mis-remembering my enjoyment of it in MOME from many years ago, but no, this is still a total delight. I find it difficult to verbalize quite why this is so good but the combination of Hensley's polished, formally perfect cartooning with dadaist dialogue that's almost, but not quite, coherent as gag strip humor creates this incredible sensation that I don't think I've ever experienced in another artist. It's like looking at a humor book while drunk, squinting at the words and trying to figure out why they don't make sense, why everything seems so funny even though on a logical level at least 75% of what the characters are saying is total absurdist nonsense. It's a pure formalist work, pulling apart the guts of the classic gag cartoon, abstracting its content, and riffing on that skeletal foundation. Hensley has made an avant-garde abstract comic that looks and feels, superficially, like a John Stanley teen joke book, or maybe like a satire of that aesthetic, but actually functions in much more mysterious territory. Brilliant, twisted stuff.

Image
Strawberries by Mia Schwartz
Random little minicomic from a few years ago about a young woman who discovers strawberries growing in her vagina. Schwartz deals with the premise very matter-of-factly, in a cutesy manga-inspired style, making it alternately kinda creepy body horror, a psychological reaction to the crappy relationships in her life, and very funny. Short but pretty fun and memorable.

Image
In Pieces by Marion Fayolle
A set of little gag strips, each a page or a few pages at most, and each following the same very precise structure, with smallish figures at a distance going through a set of motions, very animation-like, that deal with metaphors for relationships, identity, and the body. The visual metaphors all tend to be very obvious - like the one about a divorce where the couple splits all their possessions in half, including their kid - and it's frequently kind of groan-inducing. Fayolle's playful progressions of these metaphorical actions are enjoyable enough to look at, and she does occasionally come up with ways to tweak the obviousness of the ideas - the divorce one ends with a pretty funny image where the divorced mom meets a divorced dad and they combine their respective half-kids into a new composite family - but mostly this is very forgettable.

Image
Girl In Dior by Annie Goetzinger
Gorgeously drawn French comic about the last 10 years of Christian Dior's life. The fictional framework for the story is extremely flimsy - a young woman gets drawn to Dior first as a reporter, then as a model, then meets a literal prince and gets married - but Goetzinger barely pays it any attention. This is a narrative only nominally, Goetzinger seems way more engaged in the mechanics and processes of the fashion world, providing a full view of Dior's process, from the design stage through to finished dresses and fashion shows. Her fashion drawings are frankly stunning, obviously meticulously referenced but never stiff in the way so much heavily referenced drawing is - Goetzinger's work is vibrant and alive, her fabrics seem to move and rumple and flow gracefully and naturally, and her figures are lively as well. The book is definitely missing something to make it more than just an art showcase. Goetzinger makes some nods towards the meaning of Dior's work in its context, the pursuit of beauty and extravagance as a response to the deprivation and horror of WW2, and includes a brief scene of this flighty, self-contained fashion world coming into contact with the actual working class of the time. But she never goes far enough with the themes that seem buried within this material, and the end result is breath-taking to look at but never totally takes off as a whole.
User avatar
sevenarts
 
Posts: 4751
Joined: Fri Dec 17, 2010 4:05 pm
Location: NY

Postby Wombatz » Sun Nov 04, 2018 6:11 am

putting helter skelter on my list, definitely looks like something i would enjoy. apropos of mangas that sarah horrocks likes, have any of you looked into devilman yet?

i'd love to cast a vote on the wally gropius book, but i'm undecided. it absolutely lifts my mood to look at a page, but reading through a whole book of that is thoroughly depressing. i'd much prefer if they weren't collected but instead i'd find them in my muesli on random mornings one page at a time.
User avatar
Wombatz
 
Posts: 188
Joined: Fri May 12, 2017 5:40 am

Postby sevenarts » Sun Nov 04, 2018 9:01 am

That’s funny, I didn’t know there was a Horrocks connection there too but Devilman was the next thing I started reading. So far it’s been pretty oddly paced - the first volume is basically 200 pages of exposition - but i can see the appeal. Seems like a much rougher, shittier Berserk, the influence it must have had on Miura is obvious.

I’ve been craving more manga lately, maybe I’ll start a new thread for this stuff soon.
User avatar
sevenarts
 
Posts: 4751
Joined: Fri Dec 17, 2010 4:05 pm
Location: NY

Postby HotFingersClub » Mon Nov 05, 2018 7:16 am

Your Gropius writeup is very persuasive and makes me feel like a normie but I stand by my hatred

I love that panel from Strawberries. Would make an excellent avatar for someone with the right brand
User avatar
HotFingersClub
 
Posts: 1316
Joined: Tue Sep 02, 2014 3:31 am

Postby sevenarts » Sat Nov 10, 2018 5:29 pm

Image
Elfquest - finale by Wendy & Richard Pini
I previously wrote about this long-running series here and here. Now here's the final stretch. When I left off, it was the late '90s and the anthology version of the Elfquest ongoing - with multiple creative teams doing short stories in each issue focused on different subsets of the huge elf cast - had just petered out. For the next few years, there was very little new material, and then the Pinis briefly settled at DC for a new graphic novel and miniseries. Thankfully, they'd left behind the mixed bag of other creators to whom they'd delegated a lot of the writing and drawing in the second half of the '90s, and they were back to the core of the husband/wife duo writing, and Wendy drawing everything. Unfortunately, Wendy had discovered digital art, and the result is definitely lacking in much of the charm of her earlier work. The graphic novel is a pretty basic thing, clearly meant to serve as an intro/summing-up for a presumably wider audience now that they were at one of the Big Two. The follow-up series also seems like a transitional work, cleaning up the chronology and consolidating various threads after years in which the Pinis had been a little distanced from direct control over their creations. Both would be fine though if the art, and even more the garish digital coloring, weren't so bad. For a series where so much of its appeal was once that it was reliably beautiful, it's heartbreaking to see it look so ugly.

After this mercifully brief tenure at DC, it was many years before the Pinis returned for the long-promised Final Quest, a 24-issue series wrapping up the entire epic, bringing back nearly every character ever, alive and dead, and delivering one last massive adventure story. Wendy had gotten better with drawing digitally in the intervening years, and better technology means the colors aren't as stomach-turning anymore, but there's still unmistakeably something that's been lost here. Drawn digitally, Wendy's elves often seem a little stiff, their faces not quite as expressive in the past, and the lush shading and detailing of her more physical art isn't quite recaptured here either. At its worst, her panels now look like crowded compositions of stiff action figures milling about, in a way that earlier books, with an equally sprawling cast, seldom did. Comparing this to something like "Dreamtime," with its gorgeous ink washes and flowing layouts, is just sad. The story, too, frequently takes some very odd and unsatisfying detours, and introduces some frankly bizarre twists. At its best, though, this Final Quest does have some cool action/adventure beats, and provides a welcome return of the joyous utopianism that always sat at the core of the series. It can be seen as cheesy, and it often is, but there's also real emotion and real pleasure in the way the Pinis depict this inclusive, free-thinking society of love-filled beings.


Image
Mox Nox by Joan Cornella
A short collection of grotesque, cheerfully offensive gag one-pagers by this Catalonian cartoonist. Cornella's approach to gag cartoons seems pretty unique - a bit like the sensibility of, say, Johnny Ryan or Ivan Brunetti, but Cornella's brightly painted colors and habit of having his characters grin widely as they commit their offhanded atrocities makes his comics tougher to pin down, more unsettling than the typical modern "offensive" gag strip. Most of his wordless pages have 6 panels and his jokes follow a regular rhythm of progressively unveiling more of the punchline with each new panel, subtly altering what the joke is going to be as he goes until the eventual inevitable gut punch. A lot of these are pretty funny, and a few of them actually hit really hard since the frequent brutality and violence of his strips leads to some very dark, uncomfortable places. But it's also all very mean-spirited and frequently in questionable taste, and even in a slim collection of under 60 pages the aesthetic quickly started to wear on me, with fewer and fewer laughs coming as the collection goes along. One of the gags even seems to be mocking transgender people and left a very bad taste in my mouth. Interesting, but ultimately more troubling than actually good.

Image
Jessica Farm Vol. 1-2 by Josh Simmons
Simmons' ongoing series where he draws a page a month and publishes the results in 96-page chunks every 8 years. The formalist context of its construction lends this book a rambling, discursive quality, especially in the first volume, which reads pretty similarly to one of Simmons' short story collections except with some connections stitched between different surreal incidents and a common protagonist carrying through the whole thing. It's great stuff, a dark, menacing version of Alice In Wonderland with a young woman seemingly following her imagination into the hidden corners and bizarre spaces of her home, hiding from an abusive father by spending time with fanciful friends and, at times, stumbling into more threatening situations. Simmons makes little attempt, in the first volume, to hide the stitches - pages have drastically different tones and styles from one another, sometimes bright and playful, sometimes with tons of moody cross-hatching creating a slow-burn horror vibe. In the second volume, a real forward-driving narrative starts to take over, and it becomes this incredibly intense Prison Pit-esque ultra-violent showdown with a swarm of horrific monsters, arguably outdoing Ryan at his own game. I really love this.
User avatar
sevenarts
 
Posts: 4751
Joined: Fri Dec 17, 2010 4:05 pm
Location: NY

Postby Wombatz » Thu Nov 15, 2018 4:55 am

yea, i really love jessica farm too. and cornella is the pits (johnny ryan for the social media masses).

woohoo! hollow press are bringing back teratoid heights!!! and multiforce ... and in time for christmas! (you'll all probably already have those, but i don't and there's like extra pins for those who preorder now :rixx: )
User avatar
Wombatz
 
Posts: 188
Joined: Fri May 12, 2017 5:40 am

Postby sevenarts » Thu Nov 15, 2018 12:31 pm

I saw that news as well. I have the Picturebox and Highwater versions of those, but this is exciting for anyone who missed out, especially for the European folks. Both are total classics.

Hollow Press is so weird, they release some very cool stuff (Jesse Jacobs, Shintaro Kago) in lavish editions but then so much of their release schedule and marketing look like they’re aimed at people who love Avatar comics but wish the aesthetic was a little artier.
User avatar
sevenarts
 
Posts: 4751
Joined: Fri Dec 17, 2010 4:05 pm
Location: NY

Postby sevenarts » Fri Nov 16, 2018 1:09 am

Image
Girl Town by Carolyn Nowak
A very nice collection of a few of Nowak's minis and short stories, showcasing her warm, charming, very heartfelt comics about female friendships, messy break-ups, and half-buried feelings of desire or inadequacy. Nowak's cartooning is this cool mix of flowing, graceful curves and spiky, angular edges, which is a good match for the tone of her stories as well. Her work always looks so inviting, just on the edge of cutesy, but there's such genuine emotion roiling just below the surface - melancholy, aching, sometimes angry - that it can't be read so simply. "Diana's Electric Tongue," a slice-of-life sci-fi piece about a young woman recovering from a break-up and a traumatizing accident by buying an "escort" robot, is a perfect case in point: it's funny and unabashedly goofy, but Nowak pays such careful attention to the inner lives of her characters that this silly robot sex comic is also a miniature epic of longing, frustration, and self-discovery. Nowak is also talented enough to let her themes develop naturally, and much of the book's power is housed in silent closeups of a blushing, wide-eyed face, eyes alight with thoughts and realizations that go unspoken but deeply felt nonetheless. Of the pieces included here, only the shortest - a fun enough piece on the poignancy of media, of the kind that Jillian Tamaki and Sophia Foster-Dimino do so well - feels like a bit of a failed experiment. Everything else is an utter delight.

Image
Shenzhen: A Travelogue From China by Guy Delisle
The first of what would turn out to be a pretty long series of single-country travel books by this Canadian-French cartoonist. Not, in my opinion, an especially auspicious start. Delisle's cartooning is appealing and proficient, but also very simple, and his style here is to directly relate a number of anecdotes and moments from his stay in a small Chinese city, just to the north of Hong Kong, while overseeing the work of subcontractors for a French animation company. Fine, but the problem is that, as Delisle himself even admits in the book, his stay was pretty boring, he didn't see much or meet many people, and he doesn't really have a strong historical or political perspective to apply to what he does experience. What's left is a whole lot of aimless anecdotes and some pretty heavy exoticism - I often got the sense Delisle was seizing on any somewhat odd behavior or sight as an opportunity to half-mockingly call out how different this culture he's surrounded by is. This is basically a slightly more mobile version of all those beloved American indie comics about schlubby white dudes hanging out in their rooms doing nothing.

Image
Pyongyang: A Journey In North Korea by Guy Delisle
Delisle's second travel book is significantly better despite following the exact same template. Once again he's in an Asian city, pretty restricted in his movement and experiences, while working in animation. But the focus is pretty different - it's obvious that the sheer novelty of being in North Korea, so rare for a Westerner, drives the book to much more interesting places, and makes the narrative hang together a lot better. A lot of the appeal here, for sure, is just getting a firsthand view of what's it like to be in the country, to talk to the seemingly brainwashed guides and translators who shuffle Delisle around from one bizarre tourist site to another, and to see all the symbols of this infamously restrictive dictatorship and its mandated worship of the country's rulers. With that focus to build the book around, Delisle's no-nonsense approach becomes a lot more engaging. It's no wonder D&Q picked this as the first Delisle book to translate over the earlier Shenzhen.

Image
7 Miles A Second by David Wojnarowicz & James Romberger
Enthralling, unforgettable memoir written towards the end of his life by Wojnarowicz, a gay artist who'd lived a rough life as a homeless hustler, and who ultimately died of AIDS. It's a slim book, first published by Vertigo of all things in the mid-90s, that gathers anecdotes and scenes from several phases of Wojnarowicz's life, coming together as a powerful composite portrait of life on the fringes in Reagan's America. Romberger's art is raw and gritty, but there's also a hallucinatory, psychedelic quality to the book, reflected in the surreal visions Wojnarowicz conjures, and also in the brilliant watercolors of Marguerite van Cook. Over its course, the book shifts from intimate, often sad tales of street life as a young hustler to a searing, polemical second half in which the dying artist delivers vibrant, angry monologues on the political and religious forces conspiring to erase and suppress gay voices and gay lives. The art too becomes darker, more allegorical, in sympathy with the author's poetic rage.
User avatar
sevenarts
 
Posts: 4751
Joined: Fri Dec 17, 2010 4:05 pm
Location: NY

Postby HotFingersClub » Fri Nov 16, 2018 12:23 pm

7 Miles is a classic. Glad you liked it

I have a couple of IRL comic friends who hold a lot of contempt for Delisle, mainly for the touristy points of view that he propagates from such interesting locations. Is this Delisle kick going to lead towards Hostage eventually? I got nothing against his travelogues but I feel like he's definitely getting at a deeper emotional truth with that book

Sorry for no reviews recently. Will start posting again when work calms down a bit
User avatar
HotFingersClub
 
Posts: 1316
Joined: Tue Sep 02, 2014 3:31 am

Postby sevenarts » Fri Nov 16, 2018 11:53 pm

I do plan to read more Delisle sooner or later, including Hostage. Even 2 books in I can see how he'd greatly benefit from getting outside his insular POV for once so I'm curious about that one especially.
User avatar
sevenarts
 
Posts: 4751
Joined: Fri Dec 17, 2010 4:05 pm
Location: NY

Postby HotFingersClub » Sat Nov 17, 2018 6:37 am

Cool. Definitely don't bother reading any of the books that aren't the travelogues or Hostage. They're puffs of nothing
User avatar
HotFingersClub
 
Posts: 1316
Joined: Tue Sep 02, 2014 3:31 am

Postby Wombatz » Sun Nov 18, 2018 7:17 am

an older recommendation from this thread:

Image

Education by John Hankiewicz. this is not my usual kind of jam, on the surface one of those miserablist every man is an island comics where there's no real communication between people any more and isn't it tragic. it's only the men that are islands, of course, for women are kind of lighter hearted though that makes them less individual, so here one of them goofing around suffices as a memory of a (potential) lover for both father and son and a mother figure all rolled in one, plus i guess as a personification of the men's better feelings to boot. BUT. there's real warmth in the father son non interaction where we always see the blank reaction shots and never the face the speech bubble emanates from. the formalism of the pages corresponds to the rituals the characters perform to be themselves and it's just so well done that complaints would be academical ... except the whole balance easily collapses e.g. when for pages on end we ponder the story of cat's puke staining the carpet. still rather impressive.

Image

i also read two more from Irkus Zeberio: Sirius, which was a minor zine, and Gr€zia, which i thought was very strong again (though after recent feedback on some books i wouldn't expect anybody here to like it half as much as i do). it's clearly political, though not really delivering an argument (you need to know e.g. how the european union made greece pay back their state debt by forcing them to sell all the profitable parts of their infrastructure to foreign investors at cut throat prices), and there seems to be an undercurrent of anti-intellectualism i don't necessarily endorse (while obviously delivered by somebody who has studied some philosophy), but as with his nietzsche book, there's real meat in these deceptively deskilled doodles. (there's probably one other thing by him i would need, titled Propaganda, but it's spendy so i'm still hesitating.)

Image

Multimonde by Sammy Stein. this is nice, a descent into an artificial world as it is being designed, zone by zone, until we hit on our real world social housing projects. the zine itself immaculately designed but also a bit flat ... in contrast,

Image

4 Fragments by Viktor Hachmang comes from a similar designer's perspective but is anything but flat. if you know his earlier Book of Void, which was nice but very controlled, and was as much about the well-measured use of special color than about anything else ... now he has ramped up the energy levels into something much more interesting and much more comics (i kind of thought a bit like tradd moore lets loose in the new world, though of course that comparison only makes very relative sense (plus that kabuki mask thing)). the printing is totally amazing, but also these four miniatures between primeval man discovering radioactive slime and a robot pouring himself a cup of coffee are absolutely on point. full marks.
User avatar
Wombatz
 
Posts: 188
Joined: Fri May 12, 2017 5:40 am

Postby sevenarts » Sun Nov 18, 2018 9:07 am

Nice. I also recommend Hankiewicz's earlier collection Asthma, which doesn't have the same narrative core, instead focusing on these abstract, difficult-to-pinpoint sensations and feelings through his rigid formalist sequences.

Zeberio continues to look interesting, and that Hachmang fragment is beautiful, reminds me a bit of Yuichi Yokoyama, and also that George Wylesol collection we all read a while back.
User avatar
sevenarts
 
Posts: 4751
Joined: Fri Dec 17, 2010 4:05 pm
Location: NY

Postby HotFingersClub » Tue Nov 20, 2018 12:32 pm

Some quick reviews of short books while I have a minute:

Image
Yumi Sakugawa – Fashion Forecasts
Sevenarts covered this, and I basically agree although I think I found it more charming than he did, nursing something of an affinity for books like this (and those by Lisa Hanawalt) where silly ideas are left purposely undeveloped. Her designs really are a pleasure to look over – they’re genuinely fun and stylish. I think a deceptive amount of care and thought may have gone into them, despite the finished book feeling so slight. I found her trademark font pretty annoying.

Image
Sarah Horrocks – Hecate Snake Diaries
This is a very early work from Horrocks, a selection of digitally produced mini-strips that float by in an oil slick of greasy textures and colours, and jagged suggestive shapes. Like a lot of early works, these feel both primally urgent and pretty pretentious – it certainly doesn’t sustain a mood in the way her later stuff does so well.

Image
Ellen Forney – I Love Led Zeppelin
After Horrocks’s bleeding edges, this clutch of autobiog and advice comix felt pretty old-fashioned, but Forney’s been doing this for a long time and she’s definitely got talent. The tongue-in-cheek “How To” guides in the first quarter were my favourite bits – Forney brings in guest experts to cover such diverse topics as twirling nipple tassels, kicking heroin at home, sewing amputated fingers back on, and folding the American flag before presenting it to the deceased’s next of kin. Some of these strips are liberal orthodoxy now, and some of them are still unique and fascinating, although I might question the wisdom of giving space to a man talking about how guns should be used to “survive the coming chaos.” The other autobiog stuff, taken both from Forney’s own life and the lives of guest writers, is not always so memorable, but there’s still a lot of fun to be had. Fans of Dennis Eichorn’s Real Stuff (and a thousand other punk comix memoirs) will probably find something to enjoy.

Image
Dave Cooper – Mudbite
I don’t remember the last time Cooper was releasing sequential stuff. He hasn’t changed much. He’s of the Crumb school in many ways, particularly the bubbly pockmarked texture of his cartooning and his unsavoury attitude towards women. This story of a man visiting the big city with his family dissolves very quickly, both narratively and visually. It soon becomes clear that Cooper is retelling a couple of dreams he had, and once that happens there’s not a huge amount to keep it interesting. With only a couple of panels on each of its 85 pages, it really zips by. This is more stuff for Dave Cooper completists I think.

Image
Brandon Graham – Royalboiler
The return of a possibly problematic fave, this is Graham’s second art book following on from the brilliant Walrus. Where the first book was genuine sketches and collages, Royalboiler is more like completed marginalia. Covers, alternate covers, posters, pinups and guest pages, lightly annotated with some notes on style, influences and personal context. Graham’s sense of detail, design and invention is still pretty much second to none in my eyes, and his work is still immediately recognisable. There’s such a summery, Sunday afternoon mood that permeates all his stuff. He really suits this format as well. A lot of it is older stuff and covers that you may have seen before, but no one else creates covers and pinups with as much richness and reward for the eye, and it’s all in glorious colour. Interestingly (maybe disturbingly), in light of the allegations against him, he’s included a lot of trans imagery and portraits of trans people in this book: something he’s never really focused on before.
User avatar
HotFingersClub
 
Posts: 1316
Joined: Tue Sep 02, 2014 3:31 am

Postby sevenarts » Wed Nov 21, 2018 12:05 am

Cool, didn't even know Graham had a new book.

Image
Fielder #1 by Kevin Huizenga
Huizenga's new series now that Ganges finally wrapped up. Unlike Ganges, which was very focused on a single story, this is more like Huizenga's minicomics - sprawling, varied, filled with odd serials and experiments that may or may not ever actually be finished. There are some of his redrawn old '50s dinosaur comics, as weird as ever, a new installment of his silent, near-abstract video game comic "Fight or Run" (an apocalyptic climax for that series), and a pseudo-autobiography about his obsession with cartoons of hair, which seems to be gently poking fun at the self-effacements of cartoonists. Most importantly, there's the start of a new Glenn Ganges serial called "Fielder, Michiana." This seems to be, of all things, a prequel to Ganges, documenting the protagonist's day prior to his epic sleepless night. Like Ganges, it's very much about stretching out moments and dissecting them, following long trains of thought and then looping back to a physical reality where hardly a second has passed. Huizenga continues his experiments with visualizing thought, but he's also here doing more diagramming and analysis of the physical - examining nuances of posture and gravity, mapping currents of air. It's also more overtly meta, with some philosophical voiceovers that could be coming from Huizenga himself, musing on what his own creation might mean to himself and his readers. Great, engrossing stuff as always, and positioning this first chapter in the context of all these other fragments and experiments helps give a pretty full overview of Huizenga's current concerns as an artist.

Image
The Inspector by Liam Cobb
Does Cobb, as Wombatz say, put out too many comics? Maybe, and if so this is surely exhibit A... but as with most of his stuff I enjoyed it enough that it being totally unnecessary is kind of beside the point. A frivolous sequel to a frivolous comic from a few years ago starring the Michelin Man. One of the world's oldest trademarks goes around to famous restaurants reviewing their esoteric fare. Taking aim at food snobbery is surely an easy target but Cobb's pitch-perfect deadpan style helps the jokes land. Pretty hilarious, and yet as silly as it is Cobb's style is as beautiful and precise as ever. I liked it, but those with more misgivings about Cobb can feel free to skip it.

Image
Another Blue World by Jon Chandler
The drawings are very appealing - ferociously scrawled, all these angry little batchs of marks floating in copious white space - but this collection of a couple older minicomics, my first full exposure to Chandler, doesn't really help me get my bearings with him. His sketchy figures act out scenes of violence (rape, murder, getting devoured by slimy alien monsters) and deliver fragments of conversations that never really go anywhere. Reminds me a lot of C.F. and Gary Panter (the latter is certainly a very obvious influence) but with all context and richness deliberately pared away, all the mysterious suggestiveness there is in their work is missing here. These are just blunt and nasty moments and I can't say I got much out of it.

Image
Wet Shape In the Dark by Jon Chandler
This, on the other hand, I enjoyed. Chandler's new collection features a set of 12 short stories, each one a spiky little genre exercise mostly populated with tough-talking men spouting masculine movie cliches. What's interesting is how Chandler plays with the form, wrapping his stories in meta-games - like the Haneke-esque voyeur-baiting in the first story - and frequently short-circuiting the expected explosive climaxes. Sometimes these stories end in the violence that never seems to be too far from the surface in his work, but just as often they unexpectedly detour elsewhere. In the take on the Western offered here, for example, a taut showdown between strangers becomes a job offer instead of a murder. Aesthetically, this is rougher and rawer than Another Blue World, consisting mostly of full-page images in a very ragged style, but it's an intriguing quick read that made me a lot more interested in figuring out what Chandler's up to.
User avatar
sevenarts
 
Posts: 4751
Joined: Fri Dec 17, 2010 4:05 pm
Location: NY

Postby HotFingersClub » Wed Nov 21, 2018 6:52 am

Very excited about new Huizenga - he's a top five creator for me. Still need to pick up the last issue of Ganges but it's always so expensive. Pretty poor distribution in the UK generally.

That spread from The Inspector looks gorgeous. I don't care what either of you say, I think it's going to be my favourite book of 2018 when I actually read it
User avatar
HotFingersClub
 
Posts: 1316
Joined: Tue Sep 02, 2014 3:31 am

Postby HotFingersClub » Wed Nov 21, 2018 9:35 am

Image
Tom Scioli – Satan’s Soldier
Went into this feeling sceptical after being bored to death by Final Frontier a couple of pages ago but damn if Scioli didn’t turn me around a little bit. This is another classic superhero pastiche, but this time fed through an extra few layers of distortion to create something much more interesting. Scioli’s drawings are rough and scratchy here, with digital colours layered on top until it looks like outsider PC art. That’s not the only thing it has in common with late period Frank Miller: the Soldier is an amoral impulsive child, blasting through a landscape of flimsy human bodies and abstract shapes, powered by solipsism. The looseness is intoxicating – this is good messy fun.

Image
Charles Forsman – Slasher
This was cool – instantly one of my favourite Forsman series. It’s a grimy, nasty, Saulnier-esque little thriller about a disturbed young woman harbouring fantasies of murder, in love with a fourteen year old fellow knife pervert effectively being kept prisoner by his mother’s Munchausen by Proxy. It’s a great setup, and works so well with Forsman’s flat, scratchy art. I love the way his protagonist becomes a kind of superhero by putting on her gimp suit and slashing throats, pursuing the justice of her own orgasm and bodily autonomy. It’s not just a study in psychosis though – Forsman packs this thing out with twists and unexpected beats in a pervasive fog of small town American desolation. It’s unusually tight, and I think pretty much transcends the soil of z-movie shock tactics which it grows out of.

Image
William Cardini – Tales From the Hyperverse
Another entry in a fast-growing subgenre of monsters undergoing colourful battles with little-to-no interruption from plot. This is Prison Pit on a cosmic scale, as massive entities float in space and scream at each other to ‘DIE!’ while blasting away with crystals and lasers, breaking apart, reforming etc. There’s really not a whole lot to it, but I had a good time. Cardini’s drawings are chunky and colourful; they really pop and there’s something weirdly cute about his monsters and their goofy vendettas.

Image
Al Jaffee – Tall Tales
Very very old school single-page gag comics from a legendary cartoonist. Jaffee is pure, innocent, 1950s cartooning, and as such he’s often not very funny, but there are still a few hits in this collection, and a great beauty in the construction of the panels. It works particularly well on a laptop screen, where scrolling down the length of the image often creates great comic timing that would be lost in print, where you see the whole picture at once.

Image
Arabson Assis – The Terrible Elisabeth Dumn Against the Devils in Suits
A one-shot translated by James Robinson and published by Image, this is a calling card for Assis, who has a hyper-detailed, instantly appealing art style like a cross between Rafael Grampa and the films of Sylvain Chomet. The production looks very handsome – he has obvious star quality, although he might be a bit grotesque in this mode to catch on with the mainstream. The story works basically fine but has less to recommend it: Elisabeth Dumn is a young hellion sold to the devil by her father, going on a brief road trip with a couple of supernatural buddies to escape the clutches of Hell. Like Geof Darrow, you can tell the spots where Assis gets bored with the narrative and decides to stretch out into a very long fight scene. The pacing is not ideal and there’s not always quite enough going on to support the art.
User avatar
HotFingersClub
 
Posts: 1316
Joined: Tue Sep 02, 2014 3:31 am

PreviousNext

Return to Mamma Mia... Here We Go Again....

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: alaska, Albatross, Alice, baka baka, Bartatua, brittle, building jumper, bunkbeds, butter, clownwig, Cronos, deer, doublethink0, dreamshake, Egads, emotional fascism, Eyeball Kid, Franco, fuckles, gobot, Google [Bot], Google Feedfetcher, haddonfield, hadlex, Hal Jordan, hash driveway, head gardener, Hideaway Lights, hilbert, Ides of Smarch, incoherent grunting, jack, Julius Sumner Miller, KALM, kayke, Kiki, light rail coyote, lordofdiapers, Lucky, Marza, Merciel, mynamerocks, neck, NegativeCapability, Nice Pete, Night porter, No Good Advice, nocents, odilon redon, OKterrific, Organic Croutons, palmer eldritch, Paul, porn.exe, potentialgetawaydriver, Repo, shacky, shankly, sniplets, speakers, staple, strange potion, swift, techno beats, tgk, The Fool on the Hill, theta, unsandpiper, warmjets, wuk