Comics Daze

So busy busy, but finally I have a day to spend reading comics. (Except I may have to take a nap in the middle.)

And… since it’s a sleepy kind of day, I think I’ll go with music from the late 70s only.

Let’s get readin’.

Neil Young: Time Fades Away with Where the Buffalo Roam

06:59: Big Gorgeous Jazz Machine by Nick Francis Potter (Driftwood Press)

Not many people know that Goethe was a massive Matt Fraction fan.

This is very nice. It’s a bewildering approaches to comics, from the somewhat abstract…

… to the more concrete.

There’s like a new comics language being invented in each piece. It’s really lovely.

07:21: On Vinyl by Lorenz Peter (Conundrum Press)

This starts off as an apparently straight-forward autobio comic about running a second hand record shop.

There’s some exaggerations for comedic effect, but well within the genre. Then it develops into a bigger epic with a quest for a lost record collection, and flights into fancy, and it’s fun and charming.

However, it seems like towards the end, the author just lost interest in the work, and the storylines end with a thud. The problem isn’t that it’s a downer, but that it just feels so… unsatisfying?

But the first four fifths of the book are plenty entertaining.

Richard and Linda Thompson: Hokey Pokey

08:11: Cowlick #1 edited by Floyd Tangeman (Deadcrow)

Another solid anthology from Tangeman… it’s the usual mix of strange and wonderful nouveau underground comics.

It’s cool.

Don Cherry: Brown Rice

08:22: Martin Peters by Patrick Allaby (Conundrum Press)

This is downright bizarre. The book presents itself as being about this guy Peters’ teenage years — and Peters is just some guy Allaby has met at some diabetics’ meetings; not a friend, really. So the question is: Why is Allaby interested in telling us about Peters, and why should we be interested in reading about Peters?

We even get all the back and forth between Peters and Allaby — which reminds me quite a bit of Chester Brown’s Helder/Showing Helder story.

But it is a fascinating book. It has a certain lack of affect that makes it seem like it’s written by some alien entity. It’s good.

And I have no idea whether anything in the book is true, or whether it’s just a very meta work of fiction. I was certainly assuming the latter while reading it, but…

Julie Tippetts: Sunset Glow

09:15: Mister Morgen by Igor Hofbauer (Conundrum Press)

This is graphically interesting, but somewhat derivative? The black/grey/red colour scheme is classic, of course, but it also just feels like a retread of 80s comics design?

Unfortunately, I read the text on the front cover flap — somebody was nattering on about this guy being the Charles Burns of the Balkans. Dude. That’s setting the expectations really high, and this book doesn’t even begin to deliver. Burns’ artwork is inhumanely meticulous while these drawings are mostly just kinda sloppy. But perhaps they meant the stories? The stories read like riffs on Richard Sala stories. Not that that’s bad, but it all feels so familiar.

Very disappointing.

Steve Hackett: Voyage of the Acolyte

10:10: Nap Time

13:52: Mini Kuš #107-110 (Kuš)

Man that was a good nap… I dreamt I had to explain something about file indexing to Kristen Bell, for some reason. And then we guerrilla styled a house we didn’t own. It turns out that it’s hard to paint on wallpaper that’s not actually properly affixed to the wall.

This is also very dreamy.

As usual, the minis from Kuš are great… but this one is awesome. By Joana Mosi. She packs so much emotion into such a little undramatic story. It’s fantastic.

Very dreamy.

Very symbolic.

Neil Young: Tonight’s the Night

14:12: Aniara by Knut Larsson (Kartago Förlag)

I think Aniara is a classic Swedish science fiction novel? I don’t think I’ve read it myself, but if I have, it’s so long ago that I don’t remember anything of the plot. And this adaptation seems to require you knowing what’s happening, because it reads like a series of illustrated highpoints (?) from the novel.

The artwork doesn’t really do much for me, either. All those bobble headed peope…

14:29: Take The Long Way Home by Jon Claytor (Conundrum Press)

I think I’m reaching the end of the pile of Conundrum books I bought the other week…

This is an autobio sketchbook-like road movie I mean comic book. And it’s absolutely riveting. It seems so straightforward and head-on, but subtle at the same time?

Jeanne Lee: Conspiracy

I really enjoy the placid pacing and the different approaches to the artwork — sometimes more painterly, sometimes more scratchy.

Never listen to advice!

Anyway, a solid book and an enjoyable read.

Supertramp: Crisis? What Crisis?

16:07: World War 3 Illustrated #52: Frontlines of Repair (AK Press)

Nice. Brand new issue of WW3.

This issue is mostly about Covid, but there’s also a bunch of other stuff.

And the George Floyd protests…

Joni Mitchell: Hejira

All the familiar faces are here, but also lots and lots of new people, like Susan Simensky Bietila here.

Ooh! Ben Katchor!

Huh. Most of the contents here seem to deal with stuff from 2020, so it has an out-of-time quality (we’re so over Covid and Black Lives Matter now, right? right?), but here’s a thing about Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

Anyway, another solid issue, and incredibly cheap as usual. Get it from AK Press while it’s fresh.

Alice Coltrane: Eternity

17:14: Invisible Parade by Takashi Horiguchi (Glacier Bay Books)

This is a collection of short, wistful pieces.

It’s definitely got the mood down, but it feels like quite a few of these stories don’t really go anywhere interesting? I mean, most of them are pleasantly absurd and take sf twists, it’s just not that gripping?

Might just be me.

I did enjoy flipping the book upside down several times during reading.

17:49: Conundrum Magazine #3 (Conundrum Press)

Hm… Oh, I thought this was a, like, comics anthology.

But it’s just a promo for Conundrum publications with excerpts from their books. OK, fine.

The Rolling Stones: Black and Blue

17:55: A Different Sky by Samuel D. Benson

This looks like it’s going to be totally out there, what with the manic artwork and all.

But instead it’s a really straightforward supernatural adventure story. Like an episode of Buffy, or something. In a good way. It’s fun!

Joyce: Vision Of Dawn

18:21: Hive: The Coronation by Miles MacDairmid

Again, this seems like it’s going to be totally weird and wild, but beyond the truly insane character designs, this is a very conventional story. I’d say the storytelling is assured? But… it’s more familiar than anything else. You could film this with normal actors, and it’d be a standard indie dramedy.

It’s mostly in the Young People Talking To Each Other genre, complete with assholes in bars and everything. And the thing is, it works? It’s a really enjoyable read — it’s fun, it’s exciting, and it does a shift into a totally different genre towards the end of the book — and since this is a “To Be Continued” kind of book, in the movie adaptation I’d say the first two thirds of this book comprise the first act of the movie. (Which is also pretty typical these days, come to think of it.)

MacDairmid includes a bookmark in the book — which is apparently the watercolours used as the basis for the colouring in the book! (Hm… those colours actually look better than what’s in the book — I assumed they were tweaked a lot in Photoshop before being printed.)

*thumbs up*

Blondie: Blondie

19:43: Gruopvækkende fortællinger fra rabarbermørket by Christian Henry (Fahrenheit)

The printing here is very odd — is it supposed to look like this? Everything is super washed out: No actual blacks; it just goes from light grey to white. And the character design, while amusing, makes it difficult to tell what’s actually happening a lot of the time.

That said, this is hilarious. I LOL-ed out loud several times. The references are pretty dated, but so am I, so it all evens out.

There’s an escalating insanity to these stories that’s masterful.

Various: This Is Reggae Music

20:32: Oboy Comics by Shaheen Beardsley (Freak Comics)

This, on the other hand, looks pretty traditional, but the storyline is pretty weird. At least at the start?

Then it sorta turns into a whiny guy book (of a super-hero variety), which isn’t my thing at all. It’s got all the “edgy” jokes you’d expect, and while some of the jokes work, it’s not very interesting.

Joan Armatrading: Joan Armatrading

21:13: Nofret: Tutankhamon by Sussi Bech (Eudor)

I’m fading fast, but one more comic before sleep. This is the thirteenth and final album in the Nofret series, which I’ve been reading since the 80s, so I hope Bech manages to end the series well…

Bech switched from drawing with pen and ink (and paper) to Cintiq a couple years ago, and I think the artwork lost a lot of charm at the same time. Often the faces just look… off… But it’s a pretty handsome book, still.

Devo: Satisfaction (I Can’t Get Me No)

As someone who barely remembers what went on in this series before, it starts off pretty confusing. But Bech squeezes in a lot of Egyptian history in these 70 pages, and we get the denouement to the Aton thing, where Nefertiti and her husband were deposed, the old gods were brought back and Tut was instated as the new figurehead. That doesn’t really leave a lot of space left for Nofret herself, and all she does here is basically running around and getting kidnapped several times.

It’s OK, I guess? And the ending is bitter sweet. It makes me want to go back and read the entire series; I remember the early albums, at least, had a certain jennesequa, and I haven’t read them for decades.

Peter Gabriel: Peter Gabriel 1

21:50: Sleep

And now I think I should get some real sleep. I’m totally exhausted after all these comics.

Eclipse 1937: Elephant Boy

Oh, this box set — “Sabu!” — is a collection of movies featuring this guy (later seen in Black Narcissus etc). And this is his first movie.

Man, that’s a big elephant.

Oh my god! These filmmakers are insane!!!!

(No babies were squished during the making of this movie, I hope, but…)

See? Very large elephant.

*pause while I read the liner notes*

Aha! Flaherty shot the nature scens in India, while the more narrative scenes were shot by Korda… on a studio lot in England!?

I really wouldn’t have guessed — it’s pretty seamless.

Aww.

Oh, yeah, I can see how they cleverly are using bokeh to disguise that they’re shooting in a Denham back lot…

This was a major box office smash and won plenty of awards and stuff, and that’s totally understandable. It’s a very amiable movie, and there’s just a lot of fun and interesting shots — like randomly of an elephant picking up a huge log: Will he make it? Will he? He does!

So it’s like a mix of nature documentary, and pre-internet snippets of animals doing odd and cute stuff, and then there’s even an adventure plot about going into the jungle to find the Macguffin (which here is apparently a whole bunch of… wild elephants…?)

But… as the plot becomes thicker and the Denham shots starts to outweigh the Flaherty shots, it’s starting to fall a bit flat, and it becomes quite clear why this isn’t one of those classics they show at Xmas every year. There just isn’t much here? It feels like they had some nice nature shots, and a really good child actor in Sabu, and then made a movie around that (based on the Kipling story), but that gives you a 40 minute short. This movie just needs… more… Like a fun B plot or something.

It’s also never explained why we should cheer when they capture all the wild elephants? Which just seems cruel and heartless? It’s just odd. This is one of those rare instances where a movie could have used a Hollywood script doctor to drop in some motivation and stuff.

Elephant Boy. Robert J. Flaherty and Zoltán Korda. 1937.

This blog post is part of the Eclipse series.

Eclipse 1933: 非常線の女n

Oooh! Is that the Evil Corporate Guy? He always looks like this.

That’s a nice sweater.

As with all the other Ozu movies, this looks really good. And the plot is a more engaging than his other two crime dramas in this box set. I think?

OK, I’ve lost track of what the plot is. It’s probably me, but there’s just a lot of … stuff happening that I didn’t quite get what the reasons behind were. But I did zone out a bit there in the middle.

Swords!?

Anyway, I enjoyed a lot of the scenes, so:

Dragnet Girl. Yasujirô Ozu. 1933.

This blog post is part of the Eclipse series.

Eclipse 1974: Place de la République

This is very 70s. I mean, in a good way. It’s apparently a totally random documentary thing where they spent a couple of weeks in one specific place in Paris and interviewed people walking by.

I love all these people, but Malle and his team seem to go after the more… “interesting”… people. I don’t know what their intentions were — perhaps just giving a snapshot of people in one specific neighbourhood as a snapshot of humanity, or something equally 70s. But the people they give most screen time are, well, pretty er odd, so it’s (so far) tending towards an awkward “cavalcade of freaks”, which is kinda mean?

That is, it feels like Malle is making fun of these people.

I’m really disappointed by this one. Malle’s previous docu, Humain, trop humain was amazing, but… this feels lazy and mean.

Place de la République. Louis Malle. 1974.

This blog post is part of the Eclipse series.