Alternative/independent comics thread

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Postby sevenarts » Wed Nov 21, 2018 10:10 am

HotFingersClub wrote: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


LOL I hope it is.

Ganges is getting collected next year, I think from D&Q, that will presumably get better distribution than Huizenga's self-published issues which didn't even really get good distribution here in the US, let alone overseas.

I liked Slasher a lot too, it's really pulpy but unlike Revenger it retains the intense emotional complexity of Forsman's best work. Real good series and I was genuinely thrown for a loop by the twists several times, which I can't say happens too often these days.
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Postby Wombatz » Wed Nov 21, 2018 3:25 pm

sevenarts wrote:Image
Another Blue World by Jon Chandler
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.


you won't be surprised to hear i think this is absolutely brilliant :P you don't mention all the mythological allusions: the first episode has the man pulling a golem/doppelganger from out of the mud for company (and they don't even fight though it's clearly a one-sided relationship), then primitive man steals a pouch from a figure that's like a medieval fool with truncated horns and casts the die (maybe), then we follow a hunter back thru the flood into a garden of eden, then modern man comes and spoils it all ... not as a continued narrative of course, nor with a controlled symbolism, but to me there's always a vague point ... and i love a moment like towards the end when the primitive man gets caught in a snare and then he forgets and just enjoys it, soaring towards the sun, because suddenly it's like play ... chandler can get too close to genre for my taste, though, e.g. in the john's worth series.
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Postby sevenarts » Fri Nov 23, 2018 1:55 pm

I kinda assumed I'd feel like a dummy who didn't get it once you posted :) But yeah I got it was doing some allusions and playing with archetypes and such... just didn't really resonate for me, I didn't feel like there was enough there besides the intensity of the drawing itself. I liked the other book more so maybe I'm more into Chandler when he's at least a little more rooted in genre and narrative.
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Postby sevenarts » Fri Nov 23, 2018 2:46 pm

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Cherry by Ines Estrada
Wild new oneshot from the great Estrada. This one seems like a twofold homage: half '60s underground, half sleazy "bad girl" comic. When an office drone finds out she only has a few months to live, she transforms herself into a punky robber and travels to Iceland on a whim. It's either a sex-obsessed death comic, or a death-obsessed sex comic, but either way this is intense, willfully over-the-top, and surprisingly touching in the end. Estrada's drawings seem to vibrate off the page with all the feeling she pours into her wide-eyed, awkwardly proportioned figures.

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The Big Me Book by Tom Van Deusen
Another little slice of Van Deusen's tongue-in-cheek "autobiographical" comics, in which he portrays himself as a vile, racist, misogynist asshole. In some ways I get the sense that he's trying to have his cake and eat it too, wallowing in typical post-Crumb alt-comics excess while also poking fun at the stereotype, but he's genuinely funny enough that it generally works. The central story here, in which a magical cat grants the protagonist 3 wishes and then is increasingly disgusted by the choices, is a master class of the form. Like Van Deusen's other books, it's also a pretty spot-on depiction of casual, clueless white male idiocy and the lack of self-awareness common to these sadly recognizable types. Total nasty hilarity.

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Blammo #10 by Noah Van Sciver
Van Sciver's latest one-man anthology issue seems like even more of a grab-bag than usual though much of it is held together by a focus on cartooning, humor, and unwanted or awkward celebrity. This is probably the most concentrated enjoyment I've gotten out of a Van Sciver comic, it's a pretty solid issue, and does a better job than the other Blammos I've read of actually fulfilling on the model of those famed '90s anthologies he's clearly aspiring to. Even the autobio strips, usually my least favorite part of his work, are good this time - especially the one where his trip to a lame gallery show causes him to remember his ill-fated attempts to create his own art movement called "Noahism," with deadpan flashbacks deftly woven between moments of the present-day story. The most substantial story here is a piece about a fictional cartoonist whose beloved strip ended with a cliffhanger when he went into seclusion, and now that he's dead his two children fight to be the first to find the missing final chapter - one to publish it, the other to destroy it. It's a great, self-contained little study of fame and the ways in which creating for an audience can injure a work's original meaning for the creator. I can't say I got quite as much out of the rather straight-faced bio strips about the humorist Artemus Ward, but all in all this was a surprisingly good comic.

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Bastard by Max de Radigues
A fine noirish road movie thriller from this Belgian cartoonist. Very Charles Forsman, which makes sense since de Radigues helped publish some of Forsman's stuff in Europe, and Forsman returned the favor by serializing some of this as minis on Oily. I liked the Oily minis, which got through maybe half of this before Oily stopped publishing anything, and the complete story is just as enjoyable. A mom and son grifter duo go on the run after a massive heist in which their fellow thieves betray them. It leans a little more towards a straightforward genre piece than Forsman usually does, and consequently it's not as emotionally and thematically rich, but it's still fun and the central relationship is very sweet. De Radigues' clean, economical line means that the action beats and the more introspective moments alike feel great, and he has a real way for stripping his storytelling to compact snapshot panels that capture a scene in a single image.
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Postby sevenarts » Mon Dec 03, 2018 8:25 pm

Just got Copra Versus 3/4/5 compendium and Negativeland in the mail today from Fiffe, which was a super-nice surprise since I wasn't paying attention at all. Non-subscribers should go take a look at his site, these look especially limited.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Tue Dec 04, 2018 4:47 am

I read Negativeland last week. It's alright!
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Postby HotFingersClub » Tue Dec 04, 2018 4:49 am

In case anyone missed it in the Dropbox thread

HotFingersClub wrote:Image
Image



I put up a copy of Dash Shaw's debut film My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea in the Movies folder because I saw it the other day and thought it was kinda cool
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Postby Wombatz » Mon Dec 17, 2018 8:36 am

so i did not enjoy the second volume of

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Survive 300,000,000 by Pat Aulisio quite as much ... maybe because you spoilsports had to put it down and i am weak ... or more probably because a) the very basic genre plot takes itself a bit more seriously and b) while the colors are super pretty, Aulisio has decided to cut back on the drawing to make room for them, and for me the attraction of his style depends on a wealth of detail and scratchy depths. here we just have goofy faces on extended psychedelics. still worthwhile for me.

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also, like everybody else her before me, Negativeland by Michel Fiffe. as always, i love the art. also i've read it twice now and i wonder if there's a way of following this, if one needs to know the regular copra plot, or if it's just wildly impressionist. i'd prefer the latter. really i don't know why fiffe fills in all this dialog (except of course his lettering is nice), it never does anything. silent fiffe would be the greatest. still i'm really happy to have this.

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finally, sevenart's recommendation (from this thread so i'll keep it here): Helter Skelter by Kyoko Okazaki. wow! somehow (probably because of the more open and seemingly somewhat hurried (but super expressive) linework) i'd expected a more 'indie' feel, but this is proper manga fantasy genre mashup, not a rigorous exploration of fame and artificial beauty and shallow souls ... albeit a tender mashup, where the scheming detective doubles as hidden heartthrob ... and the payoff is heartstopping plot turns (since the plot doesn't follow pedestrian psychology) and creepy discomfort even in what's left of my own natural body, don't touch me, please. i've seen that the same author's Pink is officially supposed to be her best work, which i hardly believe but of course i've ordered it ...
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Postby Hal Jordan » Mon Dec 17, 2018 10:52 am

oh cool the library has helter skelter on hold for me right now. i need to go pick it up
well that was intense
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Postby sevenarts » Mon Dec 17, 2018 1:10 pm

Awesome. Really glad Helter Skelter seems to have hit you as hard as it did me.

Negativeland is kinda tangentially related to Copra proper, these are characters who showed up in one Copra arc getting their own expanded story. I feel like more than Copra, knowledge of Doom Patrol helps a lot to make this less abstract. I enjoyed it. Certainly enjoyed it a lot more than the wrap-up to Copra Versus, which Fiffe bundled as 3 issues in a single 90-page giant format. That one seemed kinda slight by his standards, and the visual experimentation was pared down a lot. He writes in the back matter that the book was delayed because of other jobs and so on and that's why he's doing it in this format, and it's tempting to think that he just rushed these stories out to get it done with since he had commitments for the rest of this series. His heart didn't seem as into it as usual - I think he thought doing these villain-centric issues would be cool but by the end he just wanted to get back to the main thing.
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Postby sevenarts » Mon Dec 17, 2018 9:57 pm

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The Dragon Slayer: Folktales from Latin America by Jaime Hernandez
This new kids' comic is a rare solo outing from Jaime, who unlike his brother Gilbert has generally contained his output to whatever their current Love and Rockets series is. Jaime draws 3 Latin American folk tales in a clean, stripped-down style similar to when he used to do short strips detailing the adventures of his Locas cast as young kids. It's very nice-looking, especially seeing Jaime working in color for a change, and the stories chosen are charming in a low-key way. Not much to it, really, but always cool to see some more Jaime material.

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DNA Failure by Leon & Stefan Sadler & Jon Chandler
An old Picturebox book featuring the UK-based Famicon Express collective, collaborating on a story of feudal ne'er-do-wells having misadventures. The 3 artists have pretty distinct styles so it's obvious when they switch over, but otherwise they seamlessly hand the loose story off to one another, each taking chunks of the book. As is usually the case with these guys, I can't help thinking of Fort Thunder and C.F., the aesthetic is very similar though, also as usual, this is a bit darker and nastier than what C.F. typically does. It's a portrait of a cruel ancient world where these hapless characters keep running afoul of authority and stumbling over their own dumb plots, landing in jail or in the midst of pointless violence. Not bad.

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The Customer Is Always Wrong by Mimi Pond
Pond's lightly fictionalized memoir of her days as a waitress in 70s Oakland, while trying to make it as a cartoonist, selling her first work to National Lampoon. Her style is direct and charming, with a keen eye for caricature and a seemingly effortless knack for telling engaging stories. The book is rarely outright funny but it's often amusing and always engaging, with Pond focusing much more on the lives of the people around her, detailing her intersections with the fringes of 70s drug culture and the weird bursts of crime and violence that unexpectedly intrude into her otherwise fairly ordinary life. Not making herself the center of everything helps avoid a lot of the typical autobio pitfalls, though there's occasionally a whiff of white hetero privilege in the way she depicts other cultures and other experiences of the world. Overall, pretty enjoyable though, enough that I'll probably check out her earlier, similar memoir Over Easy soon enough.

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Teknophage by Rick Veitch, Bryan Talbot, etc.
Following HFC's rec for more Talbot goodness. This is a bit of an oddity, part of a forgotten publisher called Tekno Comix, who built a line around creations inspired by Neil Gaiman - presumably meaning that Gaiman said "hey how about a psychic dinosaur," cashed his check, and left the rest to others. This book centers around that psychic dinosaur, the villain of the line, a tyrant who crushes entire worlds beneath his giant steam-powered skyscraper, all in order to feed his insatiable appetite. It's a really pointed metaphor for capitalism, grisly and dark, and the initial 6 issues, written by Veitch and drawn by Talbot, are especially nasty fun. Talbot's super-clean, thick-lined art always seems especially well-suited to this kind of satirical fantasy, and he obviously takes great glee in drawing all these patently absurd but no less horrifying scenarios. The fact that the nasty psychic dinosaur actually has a flighty personality - petulant, egotistical, vain - makes him an even more effective and memorable central figure. After Veitch/Talbot, Paul Jenkins and Al Davison step in for 4 issues that delve more into spirituality and aren't nearly as memorable. Then Talbot returns, writing this time with David Pugh on art, for a miniseries that pushes the book further than ever into the realm of an anti-capitalist screed, further world-building the viciously stratified caste system arranged to prop up a T. Rex's voraciousness.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Tue Dec 18, 2018 3:32 am

Haha nice I'm happy I got people in this thread reading Teknophage of all things. Glad it holds up!
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Postby Wombatz » Thu Dec 20, 2018 7:04 am

Wombatz wrote:i've seen that the same author's Pink is officially supposed to be her best work, which i hardly believe but of course i've ordered it ...


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hm. despite the sex and a pet crocodile this is very fluffy. it kinda goes for a moomins vibe except that the moomins are teenage callpersons. not unpleasant but nowhere near the same league as Helter Skelter.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Thu Dec 20, 2018 8:24 am

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Box Brown – Tetris: The Games People Play
Box Brown's history of the creation of Tetris gestures at some larger theory of the hows and whys of games throughout history but ultimately gets bogged down with the contract disputes of western businessmen and bureaucrats of the USSR. Like his biographies of Andre the Giant and Andy Kauffman, it has a veneer of charm but never rises above a blow-by-blow account of the events, and ends up feeling boring and superficial. That's slightly less of a problem when you have a strong personality to anchor the story, and Tetris really doesn't have that.

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Antoine Cosse – Mutiny Bay
An atmospheric and strange tale of a mutinous expedition to the Americas. To be honest it hasn't stuck with me as much as I expected since I read it a couple of weeks ago. It's well-told, especially when two characters are stranded on an island in the bay, and I like the art, which overlaps monochrome watercolour shading with minimal actual linework in a way that causes the images to run together, as if half-remembered through a thick fog.

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Riad Sattouf – The Arab of the Future 2
Second installment of this autobiographical series about growing up as a French kid in rural Syria, and I still fucking love it. The material that Sattouf is working with is just so much more weird and compelling than 99% of autobiog comix. In this volume, the family is settled in Ter Maaleh and Riad is about to begin his terrifying experience at the local Syrian school. Meanwhile his Mum, I'm sure, is incredibly depressed and isolated, and his eccentric father is forging onwards oblivious, eventually becoming complicit in a terrible crime. The tone shifts very slightly here, away from the balls out weirdness of Sattouf's first encounter with the middle east and towards a recognition of a much darker underbelly, but it's essentially more of the same and still an absolutely wild ride. Really encourage everyone to check this series out. Vol. 3 just released in time for the holidays and I can't wait to read it.

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Jed McGowan – Gonzalo
A glum, lushly-painted story from the most recent Shortbox, the tale of an old robot bear trying to safeguard a young real bear in the years following the collapse of civilisation and the burning of the forests. McGowan establishes a dynamic we've seen many times before, unusual premise aside, and doesn't do anything super interesting with it but it has a sweet melancholy vibe and I quite like his stiff little painted bears.
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Postby Wombatz » Thu Dec 20, 2018 4:59 pm

HotFingersClub wrote:Antoine Cosse – Mutiny Bay ... To be honest it hasn't stuck with me as much as I expected ...

i read it too close after chris wright's blacklung, and (while it makes no great sense to compare the two except there's sails and cutlasses and stuff) it totally paled against that.
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Postby sevenarts » Thu Dec 20, 2018 10:54 pm

I'm often pretty ambivalent about Cosse but I really like Mutiny Bay. I can't say all of its details have stuck with me but some of the more quietly surreal bits - like the melting faces and the bursts of color dotted across the more minimalist final stretch - have definitely made a strong impression. It has quite a mood to it even if it mainly lingers in memory as that mood and little more.

Re: Okazaki, I need to buy Pink soon. I did read River's Edge by the same author and it's also no Helter Skelter but it is still quite nice - an earlier book that reads a bit like a trial run for her masterpiece, really, and even includes a character who'd later show up again in Helter Skelter.
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Postby Wombatz » Fri Dec 21, 2018 5:37 am

cossé is so uneven, he can be brilliant and mutiny is still a fine book, only i don't want dreamy sailors, they should be properly uncouth. speaking of cossé: maybe his worst yet was something called Book A from earlier this year, an arty selection of drawings, a supposedly precious risoprinted boutique publication that made you long for xerox aesthetics because the print quality only underlined that every page looked a different shade of shitty scan from shady sources. avoid.

otoh, look what just arrived!

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Postby HotFingersClub » Fri Dec 21, 2018 7:59 am

Wombatz wrote:
HotFingersClub wrote:Antoine Cosse – Mutiny Bay ... To be honest it hasn't stuck with me as much as I expected ...

i read it too close after chris wright's blacklung, and (while it makes no great sense to compare the two except there's sails and cutlasses and stuff) it totally paled against that.


Woah I actually wrote out the same observation in my review but deleted it because - as you say - there's not a lot of sense in comparing them. But I suppose this proves there's some kind of connection. I read Blacklung years ago and it still totally overshadows Mutiny Bay which to be clear I do like a lot and would probably give a 4/5 under the old system :ahuh: Blacklung rules
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Postby HotFingersClub » Fri Dec 21, 2018 7:59 am

Those Brinkman books look incred. I've read Multiforce but never Teratoid Heights
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Postby sevenarts » Fri Dec 21, 2018 7:42 pm

Guess I need to read Blacklung huh.

Those Brinkmann books look so gorgeous I'm sorely tempted to buy them again. It helps that both totally rule, I'm not even sure which I like better. That Teratoid Heights looks quite a bit bigger than the original edition, too, which is sure to be a nice bonus.
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Postby Wombatz » Sat Dec 22, 2018 9:31 am

(i don't think it's bigger that's just the photo)
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Postby HotFingersClub » Sun Dec 23, 2018 8:38 pm

I'm staring at this photo trying to disbelieve the evidence of my own eyes, Wombatz
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Postby HotFingersClub » Sun Dec 23, 2018 8:39 pm

Thrilled to announce that I have bought The Inspector for myself as a Christmas present and will read it in about five months when I get to the bottom of my reading pile
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Postby Wombatz » Mon Dec 24, 2018 2:31 pm

HotFingersClub wrote:Thrilled to announce that I have bought The Inspector for myself as a Christmas present and will read it in about five months when I get to the bottom of my reading pile

i was super disappointed you didn't put it on top of your best of 2018 list sight unseen
Last edited by Wombatz on Mon Dec 24, 2018 2:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Wombatz » Mon Dec 24, 2018 2:33 pm

(double post)
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Postby HotFingersClub » Tue Dec 25, 2018 3:35 pm

I am a man of superficial and idiotic taste but I do have my principles
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Postby shacky » Wed Jan 02, 2019 4:44 am

x-posting from the books thread cos i forgot we even had an alt comics thread.

dominique goblet - pretending is lying

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this really blew me away and i need reccs for similar things. i have no vocab for this kinda thing but i guess what i liked was the mixed media aspect, the stylistic range from simple childlike drawings to crazy expressionistic (?) childlike drawings to wild collages to whatever you call those sick photograph-like pencil drawings to the full rothko stuff towards the end. i just loved how scattershot and fragmented and beautifully ugly it was, scans of faded, oily, stained pages held together with grimy tape, and how this reflected the themes of childhood, time, memory and trauma. the whole thing felt truly raw, turning the pages you worry you might smudge the art or get dirt on yr clothes, it feels like holding something unfinished, something half-born, living, breathing, and dying in yr very hands.

ive done a bit of research but haven't come up with much. 'gulag casual' looks interesting but seems like it might lack narrative, not sure if it's worth $35?
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Postby shacky » Wed Jan 02, 2019 4:52 am

out of curiosity what percentage of these sort of books do you guys read digitally as opposed to buying physical copies?

it sucks so, so much how crazy expensive comics are, i dunno how aficionados afford/justify the purchases
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Postby sevenarts » Wed Jan 02, 2019 7:36 am

Yeah, comics is a sadly very expensive hobby. I read most Marvel/DC/mainstream stuff digitally/illicitly but try to support the more boutique publishers and self-publishing creators I really like. I also make some use of libraries and should probably do that way more - most libraries now have at least a decent-ish graphic novel section with a lot of more "literary" highlights, and some are really great.

Anyway, that Goblet book rules, I wrote that up somewhere a few pages back and was similarly blown away by it. The art is jaw-dropping, I love the way she made her process and the passage of time - the book was drawn over a very long period and some of the early pages yellowed naturally over the years - a part of the work rather than trying to obscure the origins. It's a pretty unique book so I'm not sure I can recommend anything quite like it but since it seems like you especially responded to the emotive, textural quality of the mixed media approach, I'd suggest Joe Kessler's Windowpane (a new collection of his risograph minicomics, showcasing his amazing approach to color) and Tommi Parrish's The Lie and How We Told It. Both are very visceral and affecting, and both inventively use the art to communicate the emotions and ideas at the core of their work.

Gulag Casual is OK, it's an interesting book for sure, but it's definitely more abstract and nowhere near the level of quality of the Goblet or the two I recommended.
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Postby sevenarts » Wed Jan 02, 2019 7:39 am

Oh yeah, an older classic that'd probably be right up your alley is Frank Santoro's Storeyville:

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Just gorgeous minimalist comics that put the process right on the page in service of an affecting narrative.
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