FF1992: Crap

Bummer #1, Completely Bad Boys, Crap #1-7, Damnation! #1 by J. R. Williams.

I covered Bad Comics, oh, months ago (how much further to go!!!), and should probably have done these ones at the same time, but I forgot.

So you get two J. R. Williams posts.

I have the Cat-Head Comics edition of Bummer (which was later reprinted by Fantagraphics, which explains its presence in this article series). I haven’t seen the reprint edition, but I hope they kept this, the most unstaged of all unstaged artist portraits.

Bummer is mostly autobio stories, surprisingly enough.

The occasional parody think is thrown in, and, as usual with Williams, I have no knowledge of whatever he’s parodying. It’s that TV show about the talking horse, right? So he’s dead. That’s probably funnier for Americans, and Americans older than me.

The aforementioned Bad Comics reprinted a lot of the Bad Boys pieces, which makes the name “Completely Bad Boys” slightly confusing. But included are Williams’ attempt at a daily strip version of the little psychopaths, and while some of the strips have the old spark (like the second strip here), most aren’t very… bad. I mean, they are. That seashell joke? That’s some Garfield level shit.

Onto Crap, Williams’ attempt at a 90s slacker 20s series. It’s about five roomies (each with the requisite separate personality), and you’re set for hi-jinx to ensue.

You just need somebody to sit behind you to stab the laugh machine after every other panel, and you’re there.

I’m not the only one to make that connection! Darn, I though I was being so free-spirited and original and everything.

However, we were both a bit off. Instead of being a sitcom about twentysomethings, it quickly turns into a more Serious Issue Of The Week (For Twentysomethings) thing. Soon most of the standard sitcom jokes are out, and instead each issue is About An Issue, like this one about LGTBQA2 issues…

Sexual discrimination…

Bulimia…

And alcoholism. It’s not that Williams handles any of these issues with anything but sensitivity, but it’s not that funny. The disconnect between the art style (which would lead anybody to think they’re going to read weird and wild stories) and the storylines is not helping at all. I mean, it’s not as if that’s inherently a bad thing: upsetting the readers’ expectations can be a powerful tool. But it doesn’t work for me here.

There are more free-flowing backup stories in some of the issues, and they work better, I think. But are we supposed to laugh at the artist’s mouthpiece here for being so devoid of insight into himself, or are we supposed to share his disdain for the plebs?

Fantagraphics announces the cancellation in the seventh issue in their normal manner: By putting a “continued next issue” label in somewhere.

Finally, Damnation! collects various pieces from various places, and is… varied. Variously.

Williams apparently stopped doing comics, but continued to work in animation. He’s now a painter, according to Wikipedia and his blog.

This post is part of the Fantagraphics Floppies series.

FF1992: Suburban Voodoo Comics

Suburban Voodoo Comics by Matthew Guest.

This is a 48 page one-shot (edited by Robert Boyd) with three stories that all seem like they might be autobiographical.

They’re tales of normal teenage life…

… and Christian damage.

The artwork is rather appealing, but I can’t help wonder whether something has gone wrong in the printing process. I get the feeling that there’s supposed to be many more of those small white lines that may suffer from ink gain.

If even the lettering has had that much ink fill-in, then perhaps that guy was supposed to have a face? I don’t know? It looks very, er, brutal the way it’s now, at least.

After Googling a bit, it doesn’t seem like Matthew Guest published any further comics, but he may be an art professor now, if that’s the same guy.

This post is part of the Fantagraphics Floppies series.

FF1989: Waldo

Shadowland #1-2, Stuff of Dreams #1-3 by Kim Deitch.
The Mishkin File, The Boulevard of Broken Dreams, Waldo World #1-3 by Kim and Simon Deitch.

Kim Deitch (sometimes in collaboration with his brother Simon) has spun this long interconnected tale for decades, spread out over a number of titles and collections.

One part of this mythos is summed up on this introductory page from Shadowland: There’s a group of small aliens that record what’s been happening on Earth, and are collecting these films and beaming them off into space, aided by a group of pygmies and old-time movie stars on an island in the Pacific.

That’s a lot to take in, but there’s a lot of action in these stories.

But primarily I’d say these stories are about remembering, imagining and making connections. Which is rather like happening onto yet another of these comics: You half-remember things from previous comics, and then you go “uhm… isn’t that the guy who… and is she the one who… oh, that’s how it all fits together!”

It sure can.

Deitch’s artwork is not quite like anything else (well, except perhaps his brother’s). It has a distinct 20s-30s animation quality to it, but it’s also very, very stiff. But pleasingly so! Looking at these drawings, I get the feeling that it wouldn’t take much to make it all go quite awry, but the end effect is very endearing.

The constant diagonal hatching technique he uses gives it all an obsessive quality that fits these tales where everything is interconnected.

The Deitches present most of these stories as being true; they’re doing research into cartooning history. Ted Mishkin is the central character here, and we see a recreation here of a mural he did while in an insane asylum.

And he was there because if the other major part of this mythos: Waldo. He’s alternatively being presented as a figment of Mishkin’s imagination, or (as we later learn), he’s really a demon that only slightly deranged people can see.

Mishkin makes Waldo into a cartoon character in the 20s, but after Disney becomes huge…

… Waldo (in the cartoons) is made more bland and boring. This gives Deitch a nice way to retell parts of US cartooning history, and how early, exciting cartoons had to give way for this new, more commercial type of cartooning.

We follow the Mishkins up until the early 90s, here being smarmed by a Disney representative.

The Deitches’s (is that the correct plural possessive form?) artwork isn’t just people standing around making obscure connections: It’s also phantasmagoric visions.

Or what about this page? Nice, huh? Huh?

Reading stuff like this, where everything has paranoid connections also makes me wonder about other non-stated connections. Is Ted Mishkin’s nephew (pictured above) supposed to look that much like Simon Deitch (pictured below)?

ARE THEY THE SAME PERSON!?!?1!

Between Waldo World and the last pamphlet series here (The Stuff of Dreams), Deitch published two longer Waldo-related serials in the Zero Zero anthology. There we made the connection between Waldo and the grey men on the island, and Kim Deitch himself was introduced as a character.

In The Stuff of Dreams, he takes it one step further. Not only is he investigating Waldo (and the rest) in the storyline…

… he also calls out to the readers to help him get to the bottom of certain things.

The next issue was published two years later, and we learn that he’s gotten a lot of Waldo-related stuff, but not what he was looking for.

Instead he starts investigating an old movie serial with a companion comic strip (pictured above and printed in sepia tone). The more he digs into this, the more compelling the various strange interconnections seem.

In the third issue, several people on the letters page note that the Alias the Cat strip looked very much like Deitch’s own artwork, and that he’s just an old faker. This leads him to visit Moll Barkeley, where he makes a discovery:

He’d been copying Moll Barkeley’s artwork when he was a child! It explains everything!

Deitch also finally meets Waldo…

… and the entire things has an elegiac quality to it that’s very touching indeed.

And it seems like a quite final end to the entire Mishkin/Waldo saga.

I had to dry a little tear there.

Anyway, amazing stuff, and I think all of it is available in various collections. Some might be out of print now, though, but Ebay should be helpful.

The only thing Deitch has published after this last series is a book called The Amazing, Enlightening and Absolutely True Adventures of Katherine Whaley, which I assume may not be quite completely true. I’ve got the book, but it’s in that stack over there of unread comics…

There are comic book parts in it, but it’s mostly like this: Illustrated novel stylee.

This post is part of the Fantagraphics Floppies series.

Emacs Non-Flickering Patch

Earlier today, Daniel Colascione merged his double-buffering Emacs display patch, and I was interested in seeing whether it reduced flickering when viewing animated GIFs on my problematic main machine.

And it sure does:

First you see an Emacs from five hours ago displaying a GIF, and it is flicker-o-rama.  Then I switch to a brand new Emacs with Daniel’s patch, and it is completely flicker-free.

Now, that the flicker was there in the first place is probably due to me not bothering to figure out what settings the Nvidia driver needs to … work better: On my laptop, there was no flickering even without Daniel’s fix.  So your mileage will vary, but it’s obviosly a major step forward, flicker wise, on some machines.  Thanks, Daniel.

FF1992: Sap Tunes

Sap Tunes #1-2 by Granger Davis and Steve Kongsle.

I’m finding out now that Fantagraphics sure released a lot of, er, very short series by artists I’ve never heard of.

Here’s another one.

Davis does a pair of pieces about this guy…

… who works in retail, is slightly disgruntled with stupid customers (see above), but is really a painter. (Shades of autobio?)

The artwork seems to develop quite a bit over the two issues, which makes me wonder whether it was drawn over a longer period.

Kongsle’s two pieces are more philosophical tales; the first is about insanity, while the second is about sincerity.

Neither seem to have published any comics before or after these two issues.

This post is part of the Fantagraphics Floppies series.

WFC Bulgaria: Урок

There are things about this film I like enormously. It’s a taut, tense film about nightmarish desperation.

But it seems like there are always options out of the problems that seem to be avoided just for the sake of plot. So my main feeling here is of “but why doesn’t she…?” just about all the time, which is probably not what the filmmakers were going for.

And when her car broke down on the way to pay the 1.37 lev…

Oops! Spoilers!

Love the actors.

The Lesson. Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov. 2014. Bulgaria.

Oblak

  • 1 part ouzo
  • 1 part creme de menthe
  • 1 part vanilla ice cream

Shake ouzo and creme de menthe with ice. Pour into a blender with ice cream and blend. Serve immediately.

Can also be made without ice cream.

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

FF1992: WildB.R.A.T.S: Bad Redundant Art Teams

WildB.R.A.T.S: Bad Redundant Art Teams #1 by Dean Williams and Aaron McClellan.

Dean Williams… where have I seen that name before? Oh, we wrote the execrable Butt Biscuit series from Fantagraphics.

*gulp*

Well, Fantagraphics has published a few parody comics over the years, but they usually make fun of things that are considered interesting by the same people who find Fantagraphics comics interesting, like Filibusting Comics.

This, however, presents itself as a parody of Wild… er… Wild Something? See, it’s so far out of my remit that I can’t even recall what it’s called. Google will know. Yes! WildC.A.T.S! A super-hero comic published by the then nascent Image Comics through Malibu Comics (or something).

Very nice parody cover by Bill Willingham here, but the interiors are done by a different artist. Perhaps that’s meant to be part of the parody.

Yes, anybody that draws super-heroes is gay. *slow clap*

That price list looks cheap by modern standards

Anyway, the book itself isn’t a parody of Wildcats. Instead it’s a retelling of the story of Image (super star artists at Marvel figuring they could make more money by owning the properties themselves, and hiring a lot of assistants to draw those properties). That sounds like it could be really funny, but…

… it’s not. There’s barely a joke in sight. And I just don’t care enough about these characters to try to decode who they’re supposed to be. Todd MacIjustdontcareland.

Finally, at the end we have five pages of a parody Bob Liefeld book. And again, it’s just… there. (I did like that little Eightball potato head guy popping up in the background up there.)

Oh, well.

This post is part of the Fantagraphics Floppies series.