Comics Daze

Hey! It’s been a while since I did one of these, so… er… there’s a lot of new comics to read.

Let’s get started: All comics, all day, until I plotz.

Zazou Bikaye: Mr. Manager

11:09: The Impending Blindness of Billie Scott by Zoe Thorogood (Avery Hill)

Man, this is a lot, just visually. I really enjoy her characters and the fine line work, but it’s just hard to read, especially for an old geezer like me. I mean: The teensy lettering, and lack of distinction between foreground and background, the mechanical tone that seems to swirl into shimmering patterns… I guess it’s a book where the visual aligns with the subject matter: It’s about an artist that’s going blind, and it’s difficult to just look at.

Oh, yeah: It’s very high concept. She’s going blind in two weeks so she sets off on a trip into the unknown (i.e., London) to pain ten people before she goes blind.

It reads very much like an indie movie. Still… it’s… I kinda liked it, despite all my reservations? It hits all the emotional notes you know it’s going to, but instead of being annoying, it’s “yes, there’s that bit I was expecting; nice”.

It shows promise.

Moby: Everything Was Beautiful, And Nothing Hurt

11:55: Authorised Happiness by Griffo/Van Hamme (Cinebook)

This series is based on scripts Van Hamme wrote for French television in 1982, and… it both shows and doesn’t: These stories (there’s three of them in this album) read totally like comics, not like repurposed TV scripts. But they read like 70s social satire comics.

And that’s a genre that I really enjoy, so this is like finding some lost treasure from the mid-70s. It’s uncanny. Griffu’s Moebius-influenced artwork is pitch perfect for this sort of thing, too.

The stories are all very ironic, and very depressing. Wonderful.

Ohayo: The State We Are In

12:25: William Softkey & The Purple Spider by CF

I was thinking that this might be some kind of goof-off while CF was avoiding finishing Powr Mastrs, because it’s a lot looser in style…

… and it is indeed pretty goofy, but that changes halfway through and it becomes this strange, intricate, enveloping world all of a sudden. It’s gripping and exciting and little bit moving.

Very odd.

12:44: Norse Mythology #1 by Neil Gaiman, P. Craig Russell and others (Dark Horse)

And peaking of very odd… this is a pretty strange publication. So apparently Neil Gaiman has… adapted some Norse stories? And now P. Craig Russell is… adapting these adaptations?

Aren’t these just the normal stories? They seem awfully familiar.

And Russell only does the artwork on the framing story; above is Mike Mignola.

And finally — at just 20 pages, this is awfully short, and the second story ends in the middle.

And none of it is interesting, although Russell’s artwork is pretty as always.

Nils Petter Molvær: Recoloured

12:56: Getting it Together #1 by Sina Grace, Omar Spahi, Jenny D. Fine and others (Image)

This is soap opera… TO THE MAX, but Fine’s artwork is really attractive, and I managed to tell all the approximately nine thousand characters apart, so that’s a real achievement.

It’s pretty entertaining… and… “sounding”? I learned something new. I hate that! Learning stuff is the worst.

13:14: Breakwater by Katriona Chapman (Avery Hill)

I’m really enjoying the artwork and the storytelling here. It’s calm and collected…

… and it has this sort of quiet low-key magic atmosphere thing going on.

The storyline absolutely went nowhere I was expecting, which is thrilling.

My only problem with this book is that I had some problems keeping the characters apart — they all have such generic names (Ted, Chris, Steve), and some of them are drawn kinda similarly, that I started flipping back to remind myself that Steve was the brother of Dan and not somebody else.

Very melancholy book.

13:49: The Model by Hyena Hell (Horror Vacui)

This book is one little scene, and it’s really kinda perfect.

13:54: You Don’t Know Jack by Carson Grubaugh, Jack VanDyke and Dave Sim

I’m not quite sure what this is… I read something on that very confusing Dave Sim blog about him shelving The Strange Death of Alex Raymond? (Everything on this blog is confusing.) And then the guy who’s drawing (parts of) it said “you asshole”?

I’m paraphrasing:

We rarely ever talked about these things through fax. I have come to suspect Dave faxes and request faxes in return when he wants things “on the record” and calls when it benefits him to be able to say the other party got something incorrect. Just my perception.

And more drama ensued, and then this thing was published, and I bought it, because I was curious…

It’s like a migraine on paper.

Various: Anarki & Kaos

14:23: Moms by Yeong-Shin Ma (Drawn & Quarterly)

This starts off in a really interesting way — with a mysterious SMS and then a knuckle fight between this woman and another woman on the streets, which is not how books like these usually start. So I was intrigued.

But then … it get very confusing. First of all, the artwork is really basic, and there’s not a lot to differentiate all these characters. Then it’s the viewpoint: We start off with a tight focus on this woman, and that goes on for quite a while, but then we skip to other women, who turn out to be friends of this first character… which was all kinds of confusing…

… becaues I was wondering whether these bits were flashbacks or something to when she had a different hairdo (which is basically the only way to tell them apart — and they change their hairdos, which doesn’t help reading comprehension).

I was basically ready to give up on this book after about 150 pages, but then it snapped into focus: I got who the main four women were, and their relationships with each other and their many husbands and boyfriends and children, and I was suddenly into it.

The subplot about them setting up a union was also very interesting.

And the ending is great! An unexpected sentimental pay-off.

It turns out that the protagonist here is the author’s mother — she wrote about her life at his request, and this is his adaptation of that. The author appears in this book, too — he’s the slacker son who lived at home until he was thirty and his mother finally kicked him out.

So: A confusing start, but there’s a payoff.

King Crimson: On (and off) The Road: Live at Alabamahalle

16:11: Insolitus by Henrik Rehr & Jon Solheim (Fahrenheit)

Well, that looks interesting graphically…

Unfortunately, it’s one of those descent-into-the-plot-of-a-thriller-movie things, and that’s tiresome.

16:26: Nineteen by Ancco (Drawn & Quarterly)

This book is drawn in a wide variety of styles. I’m assuming the one above is older? The linework is interesting, but I have to admit I find the bobble-headed characters repulsive.

Anyway, the book is a series of vignettes, mostly really depressing, just the way we like them. It’s all about death, violence, neglect and dogs.

17:09: Lorna by Benji Nate (Silver Sprocket)

The artwork is pretty accomplished — confident colouring.

The jokes are a bit on the tedious side.

17:16: Inner City Romance #5 by Guy Colwell (Last Gasp)

I’ve read some Guy Colwell before, but this may be the first issue of Inner City Romance I’ve happened upon.

It’s really interesting! And I see that Fantagraphics has finally published a collected edition, so I’ll be getting that.

ESG: ESG

17:28: Red Mother With Child by Christian Lax (NBM)

This is another book published in conjunction with the Louvre, and they’ve been pretty spotty.

This one is about a guy from Mali going to France, because the Louvre is the only place an ancient statuette is safe from barbaric Muslim extremists who are blowing up everything. It’s hard to read that in any way that’s not horrifyingly chauvinist, especially coming a white French guy. Especially since the guy from Mali isn’t really given much of any character beyond… stoic.

Still, we follow him on horrible travails while he’s making his way from Mali to Paris, and it’s rather gripping.

18:06: The Hand of Misery by Peter Faecke

This is the real thing.

I am speechless.

Coil: Stolen and Contaminated Songs

18:13: Waiting Room by Walker Tate

Hey! Another little Tate book. The other ones I’ve read have been amazing…

Tate is some kind of genius. This thing is way, way too short, though: Every page sucks you into the storytelling rhythms further, and then it’s over. It’s a strangely narrative work: It feels like reading a story, although it’s hard to tell what it is. The recurring imagery (and the “next”) makes it propulsive, somehow.

18:18: Plutocracy by Abraham Martínez (NBM)

So this is about the near future, where all the corporations have merged yadda yadda. What I’m wonder is… did the artist mean for the book to look like this? Yes, I know, that’s a pretty normal colour scheme for a 1984 knock-off (totalitarian states are always in browns and greens), but it’s just so muddled on most pages that you can hardly tell what’s going on.

But then you see some pages that aren’t that muddled, and you understand why most of the pages are illegible — when you can actually see the computer-assisted artwork, you can also see that it sucks.

The “plot” of this book is a journalist uncovering how The Company works, and it’s beyond tedious: It’s just pages and pages and pages of stuff like the above.

It’s mind-numbing.

Politically, Martínez is on the right page, but I bailed on reading this halfway through, because I was bored out of my skull.

19:06: One of Those Days by Yehuda Devir and Maya Devir (Abrams)

What fresh hell is this? It’s… it’s a cutesy web thing that Abrams have somehow published on paper? And in this format?

Fuck this shit. This one is going straight to the charity shop.

(Well, it’s not so much a shop as just a place where you can put stuff, and then other people can take the stuff. The “re-use centre”.)

19:10: F*uck Off Squad by Nicole Goux and Dave Baker (Silver Sprocket)

This has got a whole bunch of interesting storytelling ideas, like those little boxes describing the characters (for humorous effect). Is that from X-Men? I think I remember some X-Men comics doing the same schtick, but seriously. Mostly.

This book has a lot going for it: Attractive artwork, pretty interesting storyline… but it’s pretty chaotic. Perhaps that’s on purpose; I lost track of what’s going on. On the other hand, I’m pretty hungry.

And the choice of using the pink ink for the mobile phone messages here was rather unfortunate.

Yves Tumor: Serpent Music

19:40: I Want You by Lisa Hanawalt (Drawn & Quarterly)

Oh, this is a collection of her early mini-comics? I love it! Hanawalt’s My Dirty Dumb Eyes, may be the funniest book ever, and I’m already laughing here on page er nine or something.

And then pizza arrives! Yes! No more hunger!

(I obviously don’t have time to cook on days when I’m reading comics, so I have to *sob* order out.)

Mmmm…. delish…

Hey! I’ve seen that zebra before! Was that one included in My Dirty etc? I even used the image when teaching myself screenprinting to test how fine lines I could get out of non-professional equipment. The answer:

Not thin enough.

There’s a bunch of different art styles in here. Hadn’t seen the one above before…

The book gets funnier and funnier as it goes along. I’m not sure that’s, like, objectively true or whether it’s just a cumulative thing where everything becomes hilarious, but I was laughing so hard towards the end that that

Róisin Murphy: Róisin Machine

20:32: War and Paradise by Adam Green, Toby Goodshank and Tom Bayne (Pioneer Works)

What the fuck is this? I mean… it doesn’t look like outsider art — it just looks sloppy. Why would anybody be publishing this stuff in what looks like a pretty expensive package (with metallic shimmery inks on the cover)? Are the people involved famous or something?

Aha. The writer, Adam Green, is a musician. Who made… funny? music? Well, that explains everything.

It’s a very druggy book. It’s got a lot of stuff that looks like may go off the rails and be actually funny, but then it ends up as a lazy non sequitur instead.

Perhaps Green’s fans will like it.

I bailed after reading a quarter of the book.

21:05: Infinity 8: Until the End by Lewis Trondheim, Killoffer (Magnetic Press)

Didn’t somebody else use to publish this series? And… hm… volume 8? I think I may have missed a couple of volumes…

Well, probably not that important, since this is a Groundhog series, where everything resets at the end of each volume.

Oh, duh, of course. This is the final volume.

Killoffer’s artwork almost kinda looks like it shouldn’t work for this way-out space thing, but it does.

As usual with Trondheim sf/f stuff, it’s totally chaotic, but very propulsive. It’s a lot of fun to read.

Melanie de Biasio: Blackened Cities

21:43: Johnny Boo Finds a Clue? by James Kochalka (Top Shelf)

It’s very silly.

And then it gets mega-silly: Johnny Boo’s ultimate form.

OK, I’m fading now… too many comics… Hey! It’s only been eleven hours of consecutive comics reading. Surely I can read one more.

Jlin: Dark Energy

21:53: Monstress: Warchild by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda (Image)

I can barely remember anything from previous volumes of this saga, so the first fifty or so pages were most puzzling to me. It would have been nice if they’d included some kind of recap or just a brief reminder who all these people are. Especially since it starts off with pages and pages of people talking at each other.

But then, when things start happening, it was like “oh yeah, that’s that one and they were doing that thing” all the time, even without anybody going “as you know, Bob, you’re a witch”. And when the war started, things got kinda gripping.

Lovely artwork, too. I’m guessing this is going to win Comic Book Of The Year in the sf/f awards season next year, too?

Hector Zazou: Reivax au Congo

23:39: The End

And now… I think it’s time to go to bed.

MCMXXXIX IV: Idiot’s Delight

Idiot’s Delight. Clarence Brown. 1939.

Hey… this is fun. It’s about a soldier (Clark Gable) returning from the previous war, and he’s an actor on a downwards trajectory. It’s very fleet-footed.

The movie has turned kinda strange. Clark is being pursued desperately by Norma Shearer… I mean, that’s not odd, but the way the movie leans into it is, because he’s been portrayed as such a loser up until now, and then Shearer shows up and can think of nothing better than to pair up with him. I mean, professionally. (They also have sex, which is *gasp*.)

Well, that was a sudden turn in the plot: Now it’s years later, 1939, and Gable is touring Europe… and getting held up in Switzerland because there’s a war looming. I didn’t see that coming: Most American movies around this time were rather circumspect about the whole “Hitler is a Nazi” thing. I mean, nobody wanted to be pulled before the Congress critters that were patrolling Pro-British “propaganda”.

Unfortunately, once we get to the main part of the movie, it’s all rather tedious. I mean, I appreciate the anti-war sentiments and stuff, but it’s… just… boring. It’s so weird they bolted that rather amusing preamble to something as earnest as this. I wonder what the story behind this is…

Right:

Previously, when Warner Bros. was considering making a movie of Sherwood’s play, the studio checked with Joseph Breen, the film censor, who predicted it “would be banned widely abroad and might cause reprisals against the American company distributing it. The play is fundamentally anti-war propaganda, and contains numerous diatribes against militarism, fascism, and the munitions ring.”

Huh:

According to MGM records the film recorded a loss of $374,000 – the only film Clark Gable made at MGM to lose money apart from Parnell and Too Hot to Handle.

Hey! Gable can dance! Sort of. He’s a bit off beat, but his feet are doing the moves. Impressive.

So… there’s bits in this movie that work, but it’s just so hamfisted. After being preached at in this way, I think most audiences would go YES LET”S HAVE A WAR THEN IF THAT MEANS WE DON”T HAVE TO WATCH MORE OF THIS MOVIE.

It’s kinda bad.

This blog post is part of the 1939
series
.

MCMXXXIX III: They Made Me a Criminal

They Made Me A Criminal. Busby Berkeley. 1939.

So here in this blog post is where I was supposed to make some food, but the next dish in the Bistro Cooking book was a mussel dish, and… while I was waiting for the grocery delivery guys to deliver a kilo of live mussels for me to cook up into a delicious pasta dish, I was kinda starting to dread the entire thing? I mean, it makes no sense: I eat mussels in restaurants all the time, and I know they’re cooked alive, but the thought of doing that myself made me slightly nauseous.

I know! I’m a wimp!

Then karma struck! When the groceries were delivered, it turned out they were out! Whoho!

So now there’s nothing for me to cook. Except the linguine and some tomatoes.

Oh well, let’s just watch the movie.

Oh! Busby Berkeley! Then I assume that this is a musical? It’s an odd name for a musical.

Nobody has started dancing yet. So… I guess it’s not?

It’s a kinda interesting get-up: Instead of an upstanding citizen being set up to take a murder rap, it’s a pretty unsympathetic, lying bastard of a boxer. So they’ve got an uphill battle when it comes to making the audience care for the injustices he’s suffering, but… I think they kinda do it? I’m into it, at least.

Yes, yes, he does meet this woman, who’s kind of heart and I’m assuming she’s going to reshape him into a good man, and that’s fine.

This movie has a bunch of er kids collectively called the Dead End Kids, and I’ve seen one of their previous movies: Angels With Dirty Faces. And… they made… a movie… called The Angels Wash Their Faces?

Man:

During production, the boys ran wild around the studio, destroying property, including a truck that they crashed into a sound stage. Goldwyn chose not to use them again and sold their contract to Warner Bros.

Actual hoodlums!

I mean, this isn’t a movie classic or anything, but for what it is, it’s pretty much perfect? There’s not much of a story, and what there is seems basically either rote, or made up on the spot, but it still works. Fun performances all around, and a couple of scenes (in the water tank, and in the ring) that was genuinely exciting.

So:

This blog post is part of the 1939
series
.

MCMXXXIX II: Son of Frankenstein

Son of Frankenstein. Rowland V. Lee. 1939.

For today’s dish from the Bistro Cooking, we have another apple tart. I mean sex worker. This one looks less like an omelette than the previous one… it’s a cream and egg thing (and apples, of course). It is, again, as with many of the recipes in this book, very simple. Perhaps too simple? I’m thinking this is going to taste very… one note? But let’s see.

The pie shell is a pâte brisée, which sounds tastier than the previous shell, which was basically just flour and water, and tasted like and had the structural integrity of cardboard.

So these are all the ingredients. Nothing fancy.

OK, the shell first. So it’s flour, salt and butter in a FUD professor.

Blitz it until it’s forming granules, just 10 secs.

And then add some ice water and pulse it until it gathers into a dough.

It’s super duper simple, so I hope it tastes OK. Then into the fridge for an hour.

Then roll it out into the proper size. I think I’m getting the hang of these pie shell things now: This dough didn’t fight me while I was rolling it out.

Then into the tin, 20 minutes in the fridge agains, and blind baking for a bit.

And then removing the baking beans and the foil and baking some more.

I had a taste of the shell: It’s edible! It’s kinda crunchy and flaky and has a not offputting flavour.

Then it’s the filling: Some egg yolks…

… and cream and sugar. The recipe said to use either creme fraiche or cream, and I went for cream, because… I like cream?

A lot of apple chopping happened here. The apples are cut into halves and then quarters, which gives pretty thick apple … wedges? I’d assumed that they were supposed to be thinner, but what do I know? NOTHING.

Then the egg yolk/cream mixture, and some sugar on top, and then into the oven for 45 minutes. (I added some foil on the outside in case the pie shell is leaking out.)

OK, the recipe said to bake until really brown, almost even blackened at the er edges… I guess this qualifies?

Hm…

Oh, this is really tasty! The pie crust is flaky and delicious; slightly salty and very buttery. And the filling is a lot more complex than I had thought it would be: The acidity of the apples vs. the sugary yolk/cream go so well together. I can’t stop eating this! Which may just be because I’m very hungry, but even so! Yum. So much better than the omelette-like apple pie from the other week.

So let’s watch the movie while I’m noshing.

Wow. Both Karloff and Lugosi? And Rathbone? This isn’t the B movie I expected.

Oops! I’ve eaten almost half of the pie.

Everybody loves this movie! I guess I can see why, just by reading the list of actors involved, but I don’t really get it. I mean… I love 30s movies, but 30s horror has never been something that I’ve been interested in. I’ve never found them particularly amusing… but I remember being really scared by the first Frankenstein when I was like nine and it was shown on TV for some reason.

The sets are quite nice, although the cinematographer seldom manages to place the camera somewhere that does the scenery justice.

I feel this should have been more fun than it was.

This blog post is part of the 1939
series
.