FF1988: Lloyd Llewellyn Special

Lloyd Llewellyn Special #1 by Daniel Clowes.

When I did the post on Lloyd Llewellyn earlier, I didn’t know that this special (published about a year after the original series) existed. But it arrived now, so… Let’s… er… discuss.

Apparently this special was supposed to be in colour, but due to low demand (from the direct market retailers), it ended up being in black and white instead. Times have changed, haven’t they? The break-out success of Clowes’ next series, Eightball (and not #@$@!!, as he says at the end there) is still a year away, but reading this now, it’s almost shocking to learn that they couldn’t afford to print something Clowesian in colour…

Anyway, this issue is more of the same as the main series: Very amusing retro-styled slightly noir-ish nonsense.

You tell ’em!

Artwise, it’s Clowes’ best until now, although it isn’t a major departure from his previous work. It’s still pleasantly stiff and Kriegstein like…

(Oh, yeah, that’s the plot in that speech bubble.)

Lots of fun. Next up is, of course, Eightball, which I’m kinda excited to re-read.

This post is part of the Fantagraphics Floppies series.

FF1989: Unsupervised Existence

Unsupervised Existence #1-7 by Terry Laban.

Wow.  I used to love this series. What happened?

Unsupervised Existence was started as a small-press mini comic, I think?  I haven’t read that incarnation, but it was reprinted by Rip Off as Twice-Told Tales of Unsupervised Existence.  Fantagraphics then continued the series…

The main series in Unsupervised Existence is about this pair of people (and their friends). The series seems to be striving to be really real, and say something interesting about real people, living mundane lives. (He’s a cabbie. And a poet. But mostly a cabbie.)

But there you have the immediate problem. He’s a poet cabbie. She’s a dreamer wondering what to do with her life (but a very strident dreamer, as shown above.)

And sure, those are people that can exist, but they’re also characters straight out of indie film dramedy casting, and most of their lines reflect that.

The artwork is better than the writing. It has a pleasing squishiness to it, and Laban isn’t afraid to make things go very subjective once in a while.

And there’s stuff to like here. Shooting frozen peas at cockroaches as entertainment? Sure! But also just look at that drawing… I like those objects. That tea mug. That sofa. That carpet. That pose. I mean, it’s not something that would stop you in your trackswhile reading, but it’s all there. It’s good.

In issue two we move to a magazine format, and we’re really introduced to the other main serial. It’s about a performance artist called Bob who goes abroad. Hilarity ensues. Or rather, much American-abroad-angst. It’s fine. But, like the other strip, it’s very wordy.

Here Suzy meets her childhood self. You’ve seen this scene in quite a few tv series, haven’t you?

And Bob in his first of a series of gay panic shticks. *sigh*

In issue five we revert to the standard comic book format. I think this is the only series I’ve seen that gone from comic book to magazine and back to comic book again?

Anyway, the soap opera keeps on rolling, with pregnancies and abortions and very long, deep and meaningful conversations.

In the final issue, I think Laban states out loud what it was that he was trying to do with Unsupervised Existence. And that’s a fine goal, but I don’t think he succeeded. I mean, I really thought so back then. Back in the early 90s, I thought that its unsensationalistic, mundane storyline was such a breath of fresh air. Just a relaxing meander down these character’s paths. Reading this now, I found it tedious.

Perhaps it just seemed important back then to see that comics could try to handle this stuff? While now it’s like “duh”. And if you do, it had better be really good.

And Laban signs off without bringing any of the stories to any kind of satisfactory ending.

I don’t know whether Laban was as bored with this series as I am now, but he certainly went down another path with his next series, the very successful Cud, which is a spin-off from Unsupervised Existence, sort of. It features the Bob character, but has a completely different tone, if I remember correctly.

This post is part of the Fantagraphics Floppies series.

FF1989: Blite

Blite by Phil Elliott.

Phil Elliott is part of that British Fast Fiction/Escape generation, but has perhaps had less published in the US than others in that crowd…

It’s a collection of shorter stories mostly featuring the “Gimbley” character. I think you could describe them as having a sort dream logic, but what strikes me after reading these stories again is that they seem to have more of a drunk logic.

And not always a very happy drunk.

There’s also jokes.

The artwork shifts between having an Yves Chaland vibe to having more of a Bob de Moor thing going on. So we’re mostly in BD land, but we also get the very un-BD panels like the ones above. This type of zip-a-toning is a bit Eddie Campbell-ish?

This post is part of the Fantagraphics Floppies series.

FF1987: Myron Moose Funnies

Myron Moose Funnies by Bob Foster.

This reads very much like 70s underground comix, which is pretty strange for published in 1987. And there is a series from 1971 with the same name. Is it a reprint? I’ve spent four minutes googling and I do not know.

Anyway, it was apparently planned as a three issue series, and a three issue series it is.

About half the pages are like this: Myron talking to the audience, doing jokes and gross stuff, and playing with the medium. (Notice how the snot is clinging to the panel border in the last panel.)

The other half is Foster doing really good pastiches of famous comic strips. At least art-wise. The writing is pretty hit and miss.

Although this Dr Seuss parody is pretty much on fleek.

And this may not be funny, but it’s really good Frazetta.

But too many pages are like this. Yes, it’s Buck Rogers, but is it funny? This book frequently reads like an exercise book. “Can I do this artist? Yes, apparently I can.”

*snicker*

And that’s back to the 70s again. By 1987, I don’t think any comic book fans were reading Mad Magazine, so it seems really anachronistic. (Not to mention the hair-dos and the clothes.)

So… a reprint? A collection of stuff that Foster had lying around in a drawer somewhere? I don’t know, but it’s moderately amusing, and frequently quite pretty, so… why not?

Foster has apparently had a long career and done lots of stuff.

This post is part of the Fantagraphics Floppies series.

WFC Uruguay: El Baño del Papa

This started off really good (the opening scenes on bike were great), but then… As a viewer you want everything to go well for these people, but it seems so futile. They tried to crank up the absurdity, but…

The Pope’s Toilet. César Charlone. 2007. Uruguay.

Caipiroska

  • 1 part vodka
  • 1 part tonic water
  • 1 lime
  • sugar
  • ice

Put lime wedges and sugar into a rocks glass and muddle. Fill up with ice. Pour half and half vodka and tonic over. Garnish with a lime wedge.

This post is part of the World of Films and Cocktails series. Explore the map.

WFC Austria: Caché

Very, very tense. And this being Haneke I was just sitting here waiting for some atrocity to happen.

It’s a bit hard to swallow the main character’s ineptie complète, though.

Nice mystery, though! (I’m going with either the director or Pierrot and Majid’s son in collusion.)

Hidden. Michael Haneke. 2005. Austria.

Blood And Sand

  • 1 part whiskey
  • 1 part orange juice
  • 1 part cherry liqueur
  • 1 part sweet vermouth

Pour into an ice-filled glass and stir. Garnish with some orange zest.

That’s a very unappealing colour, but it’s not as horrible as it looks.

This post is part of the World of Films and Cocktails series. Explore the map.