FF1996: Coventry

Coventry #1-3 by Bill Willingham.

Willingham is known these days for writing Fables, the Vertigo series re-appropriating fairy tale figures, but in the 90s he was doing things like Ironwood and Time Wankers for Eros Comix, the Fantagraphics imprint. I think I assumed at the time that Coventry was more of the same, but it turns out that it is not porn.

Willingham’s rendering is lush, as always.

It turns out this book is a precursor to Fables of sort: It’s about angels and werewolves and witches living in modern-day USA, and there’s a private investigator (or two) who’s trying to track down supernatural murderers, etc.

The artwork is very un-Fantagraphics: It’s based heavily on photo reference and is rendered in a manner that reminds me of other self-publishers around this time, like Terry Moore and Dave Sim: Facile brush work or something.

Willingham predicts the current Golden Age of Quality TV.

To a T.

Willingham explains that Coventry is the book that he’s going to do until he’s dead, and reading it, I do get a feeling that this one is a keeper. It’s well paced and plotted, with interesting characters and situations.

And my guess about photo reference turns out to be right: Each character is based on a specific person, and he’s collected around 300 photos from each of them.

There’s even a map of Coventry and a description of the various sections. Willingham really did seem like he was going to keep at this book, with its odd price point ($4, which was a lot in the 90s for a comic book), printed one nice white paper, with cardboard cover stock.

Sometimes it seems like Willingham can’t quite make the various photos he’s using match up all that well, which can be somewhat disturbing.

And so the third and final issue ends.

Willingham later wrote two novels set in the same universe, but the reasons for abandoning the comic book series aren’t clear. Low sales? Dissatisfaction with Fantagraphics? This is a really odd book for them to have been publishing. The only thing that comes close to this is Castle Waiting, and that was a decade later.

It’s a shame, because reading this was such a welcome change from the other Fantagraphics books I’ve been plowing lately: It’s a breezy, delicious romp.

And with that, we’re going to take a break for a few days.  I had hoped two wrap up this blog series before the holidays, but we still have four more posts to go before we sleep, and those comics are still in the mail due to lousy planning.

See you on, like, four or five days.

This post is part of the Fantagraphics Floppies series.

FF1992: Trailer Trash

Trailer Trash #1-9 by Roy Tompkins.

If you were to rifle through Trailer Trash, you would probably assume that this was going to be a book of nihilist violent gross-out fun like, say, Angry Youth Comics.

The internal monologues from the viewpoint characters keeps on coming, which seems rather outdated these days, I guess: Every motivation every character have are spelled out.

The character design is incredibly strange.

These characters aren’t presented as looking freaky or anything. They just look this way, and nothing is said about it. Reminds me a bit of Crap, which was also published around this time. Perhaps something in the air.

And, of course, since this is a comic with hillbillies, you have conspiracy theories about Elvis.

So this is really what it seemed like? A wild and woozy nonsensical single author anthology as it looks like?

No. It’s a coherent, traditional story of Harvey (to the left up there) who is a rather shy, and rather dim, fellow who has a crush on a girl and hangs out with his slacker friends. It’s way, way more Hate than Schizo.

This disconnect between the bizarre way it looks and the traditional way it reads doesn’t work in Tompkins’ favour.

There are some bizarre shorter pieces in the first few issues that don’t have this problem, though, but they soon make way for all-Harvey issues of moping around and getting drunk and arguing with parents.

Harvey is basically a decent, moral kind of guy, but he’s so feckless that it’s rather hard to get any momentum built up, story wise.

There are other characters that have intersecting storylines with Harvey that are more propulsive, like that drug dealer who has a necrophiliac downstairs neighbor, so it’s not all like this, but the prevailing feeling is one of a 90s tv drama.

The artwork is obviously very much influenced by Charles Burns. Not layouts or character design, but his linework is a dead ringer.

And predictably enough for someone who obviously puts so much work into his shading, he finds time to, er, critique other, lazier comic book artists.

Several of the back covers feature these slightly porny collages.

Oh! I forgot to mention that the first six issues weren’t published by Fantagraphics, but by Tundra. And scrolling all the way to the beginning of this article is too much work. Obvs.

In 1993, Kevin Eastman, owner of the money hemorrhaging Tundra comics, paid Kitchen Sink to take over, and the first thing Kitchen did was ax all the titles that were losing money hand over fist. (Officially Kitchen bought Tundra, but I think that summary is accurate; it’s all based on rumours of what really transpired.)

Trailer Trash was one of the casualties, but Tompkins announces that he’d be looking for a new publisher.

Fantagraphics took over with the seventh issue, three years later. Tompkins’ art style has changed a bit, but not dramatically.

The story continues from where it left off, and the characters do their wordy as-you-know-Bobs to bring new readers up to speed.

The eight issue is odd in several ways: Eight interior pages are on newsprint, and the other sixteen are on white paper. I’m assuming a printing error.

But it’s also the only issue to have colour printing on the inside covers, and Tompkins uses it to throw shade on such commercial sell-outs as Hate and Eightball, also published by Fantagraphics.

The storyline of the issue also diverges from the usual slacker shenanigans, and instead tells the story of one of the kids, and it’s about drugs and sexual abuse. Much heavier than the earlier issues.

The final issue is a grab-bag of various odds and ends. For instance, there’s this three-page adaptation of an urban legend.

For the conclusion to the main storyline (which I suspect Tompkins had gotten really bored with by this point), Tompkins shifts to a simpler art style, complete with zip-a-tone and everything. To tie everything up, he (*spoilers*) just kills off two of the main characters.

Like I said: Bored.

Most of the pages are taken up with earlier works probably intended for anthologies. They are drawn in magazine size ratios.

The most interesting is perhaps the (seemingly) autobiographical one about one of his high-school friends who had a mother who was a hoarder.

And… that’s it. Not a very satisfactory ending to a series that was kinda interesting.

As far as I can tell, Tompkins has not published any further comic books after Trailer Trash was abandoned. He seems to be working in illustration these days.

This post is part of the Fantagraphics Floppies series.

FF1993: Idiotland

Idiotland #1-7 by Doug Allen and Gary Leib.

Doug Allen is best known for Steven, I think, while Leib has appeared in a number of anthologies. Idiotland was a shared series: They both do solo pieces, but the majority of the work seems to be collaborative.

This is a humour anthology with about half a dozen recurring or continuing storylines. The most endearing is perhaps this shopping crazy pair who are always on the lookout for a bargain.

Really bad puns abound.

And there’s the occasional art lesson.

Mostly, thought, it just absurdist nonsense. Even the longer, slightly more cohesive storylines are apt to end at any point.

The artwork has a kinda old-school underground vibe going, with characters that are semi-cartoony/semi-real.

And you can’t deny that some of the jokes are pretty on fleek.

There also seems to be meanings hidden to be teased out. For instance, why is the number “12” repeated over and over again? But, on the other hand, perhaps stuff like that is just put in to satisfy the paranoia of the presumably extremely high target audience.

Even though there’s different characters and milieus, all the stories feel pretty much the same. I guess you could say that that lends a certain cohesion to the book. The only bits that stand out is this nonsense song by Ernest Noyes Brookings…

… and this Julie Doucet homage/parody/whatever.

And then the series in the traditional Fantagraphics fashion, with all the strips saying “to be continued”.

Idiotland was nominated for “Best New Series” for the Harvey awards in 1994, so I guess quite a few people liked it.

This post is part of the Fantagraphics Floppies series.

The Best Comics of 2016

Another year gone, and another group of comics that migrated to the “hm, that was interesting” little bookshelf thing in my living room after I’d read them.

Let’s have a look, first at the books that were actually published in 2016. Since that’s the name of this blog post. Logical, right? I’m very logical.

Late Bloomer by Maré Odomo (Retrofit)

Retrofit has really been killing it the last year or so. They’ve always been publishing interesting stuff, but after they merged with Big Planet, the books are also beautiful in addition to being interesting.

Odomo’s little book (it’s quite small) is intriguing and slightly abstract. As it says on the cover: “comics/poetry poems”, and that’s how it reads, too. It rewards re-readings.

Libby’s Dad by Eleanor Davis (Retrofit)

Another perfect little book: It really looks like these coloured pencil drawings have been made directly into the object I’m holding in my hands. It’s like a composition book. And that’s a perfect match for Davis’ claustrophobic tale of children not quite knowing how to respond to rumours of abuse, and feeling they have to take sides.

And so gorgeously drawn, too.

Our Mother by Luke Howard (Retrofit)

Hey! Did the entire Retrofit/Big Planet output this year end up in that little bookshelf? Perhaps I should just link to their website and go “Here. Here’s the best.” It would save time.

Howard’s comic book reads like nothing else. It’s like a distracted mind that’s trying to avoid thinking about certain subjects. It hits hard, but it’s funny, too. As for the artwork, I think it’s great, although we may have hit Peak Michael Deforge Influence in comics now…

Hellbound Lifestyle by Alabaster Pizzo & Kaeleigh Forsyth (Retrofit)

Noo! I swear I had no idea that there was this much Retrofit here…

And speaking of Peak Deforge Influence… But this is a very different work; all modern with the computers and stuff. The kind youngsters like. And, again, funny and heartbreaking.

The Red Virgin and the Vision of Utopia by Mary M. Talbot and Bryan Talbot (Dark Horse)

Phew! Not Retrofit! Instead it’s a surprise appearance by a book published by Dark Horse, and it’s way less experimental than the other books so far in this article.

It’s a biography of Louise Michel (kinda), and it’s just so darned interesting. I knew nothing about her, and not that much about the Paris Commune. It’s told in a quite straightforward manner that could, perhaps, have been somewhat dull if it… just didn’t work as well as it does. (That sentence should probably win an award for Most Insightful Critical Analysis Ever.)

Comics biographies have really taken off the last few years, topping sales charts and “best of” lists. I find most of them rather boring, but I see why they’re so popular. I mean, the “weighty tome about worthy person” section in any bookstore is huge, so there’s a market for it. And why not in comics form?

Why Would You Do That? by Andrea Tsurumi (Hic + Hoc)

A little book of delightfully absurd little stories. It’s not as much “dream logic” as “whaaa logic”, drawn in a number of different art styles. And it’s funny.

Someone Please Have Sex With Me by Gina Wynbrandt (2d cloud)

Hm, not as many 2d cloud books this year. Did I forget to sign up for one of the Kickstartererers, or did their output not quite gel with me? I seem to recall them dominating my “best of 2015” posts like Retrofit are doing this year…

Anyway! This book is excruciating and excruciatingly funny. You basically know most everything you need to know by looking at the cover: That’s a woman who really, really wants somebody to have sex with her. The artwork is pleasingly stiff and very posed, which works wonderfully for these stories. It’s sometimes so embarrassing that I had to hide behind a pillow while reading it, though.

Big Kids by Michael Deforge (Drawn & Quarterly)

Well, you can’t have a list like this without this year’s Deforge book, but this time it’s even better than usual. The artwork continues to be beautiful, and this time it’s a longer story about… growing up, I guess. In a totally fucked up Deforge way. What’s not to like?

The Imitation Game by Jim Ottaviani and Leland Purvis (Abrams)

Ottaviani has been writing comics about science and scientists for decades now, and he’s really good at it. That is, he manages to convey their insights in an understandable way, and without dropping into lecture mode. This book is more about Turing’s difficult life than it is about science, but it’s still rather interesting.

Take It As A Compliment by Maria Stoian (Singing Dragon)

In this book, Stoian illustrates twenty different stories about sexual abuse apparently told to her by different people. Sounds fun, eh? While a project like this may have been a deadening reading experience, Stoian illustrates each story in a radically different art style. And they are all good.

Hot Dog Taste Test by Lisa Hanawalt (Drawn & Quarterly)

This has officially been declared as the funnies comic book of the year, but it’s also beautiful.

We All Wish For Deadly Force by Leela Corman (Retrofit)

Oops. Another Retrofit book. This one collects various short stories from Corman that add up to something greater in aggregate. Most of these were drawn in the same period that her husband, Tom Hart, was making his book Rosalie Lightning, and many of the stories touch on the same subject.

I really love Corman’s weird, weird colours.

Wrinkles by Paco Roca (Fantagraphics)

This is the US edition of an older French book, but let’s list it here, anyway.

While I was a bit sceptical about this book at first (it’s about an old guy with Alzheimers in an old folks’ home, and that seems like it could be a cynical and easy ploy to tug at people’s heartstrings) it’s really, really touching. I laughed and I cried.

Nod Away by Joshua W. Cotter (Fantagraphics)

This is a weird, weird science fiction tale. There’s psychic experimentation, rocket ships and aliens from other dimensions, and it’s all so strangely put together. Yet it all works. It’s spooky and scary, kinda the comics equivalent of watching Alien the first time. Not that the plot is anything like that film or anything, but it’s… the feeling.

Beverly by Nick Drnaso (Drawn & Quarterly)

Finally we have this book, which I couldn’t quite make my mind up whether to include or not. Yes, it’s affecting and strange, but to my mind large parts of it just didn’t add up. That is, people seemed to be (over-)acting in ways that just strained my credulity. (For instance, when the sister walks in on the brother and her reaction to that situation.)

But there’s a lot to enjoy here, too, like the way Drnaso convincingly depicts the boy’s constant obsessive and unwanted fantasies: The way nothing is marked explicitly is just so on fleek.

So that’s it for 2016. That’s about half the number of books compared to my 2015 posts on the same subject, which means that either 1) I missed a bunch of books (which is possible since I was reading an inordinate amount of Fantagraphics books this year), or 2) the American art comics explosion that happened around 2011 is pretty much over. Instead of there seemingly being a new genius popping up every week, we’re down to one every couple of months.

This is sad. Buy and read all the books above to cheer yourself up.

But I read older comics this year, too! These are the most interesting ones.

The Best American Comics 2007 edited by Chris Ware (Haughton Miffin)

2007 was a very good year, and Ware has excellent taste. The other notable thing about this anthology is how many stories were picked from the now-defunct Fantagraphics anthology Mome. It provided a reliable, dependable way for shorter art comics to make their way into the world, and since its demise there’s been nothing to pick up the slack.

Yes, just put the comics on Tumblr instead. That’s the ticket.

I dag er den siste dagen av resten av ditt liv by Ulli Lust (No Comprendo Press)

Fantagraphics published an English language version of this brick of an autobio comic book. It’s about Lust as a youngster going to Italy with no money. Hilarity doesn’t ensue, but it’s a fascinating story. Completely engrossing, and I can’t wait to read her next book.

Everything is Teeth by Evie Wyld and Joe Sumner (Pantheon)

I’m always suspicious of comics that have a writer/artist combo, especially when the artist is termed “illustrator” and gets a smaller font on the cover. These books almost always suck. This one doesn’t. It’s about one girl’s obsession with sharks, and it’s wildly interesting. The artwork is rather on the basic side, though.

Mimi and the Wolves vol II by Alabaster (self-published)

This little book is just so strange. It’s difficult to know what to make of it, but it just has this unnerving vibe going on that makes it hard to shake.

Happy Stories About Well-Adjusted People by Joe Ollmann (Conundrum Press)

Yes, the title is sarcastic. But very little else about this book (which collects short stories from the last couple of decades) is predictable. There’s just something humane and true about Ollmann’s depiction of these mostly rather hapless people.

Houses of the Holy by Caitlin Skallrud (Uncivilized Books)

Man, this is an experience to read. It’s pure comics, and it’s like nothing else. I have nothing more to say about it.

Sunday in the Park with Boys by Jane Mai (Koyama Press)

Mai’s charming artwork coupled with sometimes creepy symbolism and melancholy mood is just perfect for this booklet. Comics about depression seems to be a major movement these days.

Berlin: A City Divided by Susanne Buddenberg and Thomas Henseler (Avant-Verlag)

These aren’t really very good comics. They were made as part of the anniversary celebration of the fall of the wall in Berlin, and they’re about all the people who were killed trying to escape from East Berlin. Even if they’re basic as comics, they pack a wallop. Putting names and faces to the people who were meaninglessly shot, in the middle of Europe, just a few decades ago, is powerful.

➡ by Marc-Antoine Mathieu (Reprodukt)

This wordless book is all about comics formalism tomfoolery. We follow this character through a landscape where he follows various arrows, and it’s a bit entrancing. Like a less propulsive Yuichi Yokoyama, perhaps.

Soppy by Philippa Rice (Square Peg)

As the title promises, this is a soppy book. It’s all about love and togetherness and all that vile, drippy stuff.

But it’s just so cute! So cute!

Rough Age by Max de Radiguès (One Percent Press)

Yes, this is another one of those books about teenagers and growing up and stuff, and perhaps that should be a verboten subject for a few years. Just to clear the backlog of those books. But when it’s this good, what are you gonna do?

Unlovable vol 3 by Esther Pearl Watson (Fantagraphics)

Watson still claims that these books are totes based on a real diary that she found in a gas station restroom. Who knows, it may even be true? In any case, by volume three you would perhaps suspect that this well had run dry, but it def hasn’t. It’s just as hilarious and embarrassing as ever. If Watson feels like putting out a new volume every couple of years, I’ll continue to be a loyal reader.

One Year in America by Elisabeth Belliveau (Conundrum Press)

A kind of epistolary comic, it’s charmingly drawn with ink and washes. It’s melancholy and oblique, but seems optimistic, anyway. It’s one of those muted reading experiences where everything goes all quiet in your head.

Rough House 3 (self-published)

This thick anthology (with no editor listed) was all risograph printed, and this is definitely the largest book I’ve seen made with that technique. Must have been a lot of work putting it all together. Anyway, it has an impressive list of contributors, and even if there’s all sorts of comics approaches represented, it seems to work well as a unit. Anthologies that work this well are a rarity these days.

New Construction by Sam Alden (Uncivilized Books)

This small, but thick and smart little book is typical Sam Alden. That is, it’s just brilliant, from the sketchy pure pencil drawings, to the decompressed pacing, to the emotionally draining stories. Genius!

Don’t Cry Wolfman Chicago by Nate Beaty (self-published)

This is a collection of comics originally published on dar web, so it is no surprise that these are comic strips. That is, of the funny kind. And when they are funny and absurd, they are very funny and very absurd (see left). And sometimes they’re just kinda ordinary (see right). But there are way more yays here than mehs.

Second Avenue Caper by Joyce Brabner and Mark Zingarelli (Hill and Wang)

Hey! Old-fashioned narrative non-experimental comics. Gotta have some of those, too.

And when I started on this one, I was a bit sceptical again (so suspicious) because 1) it’s made by a writer/artist pair, and 2) it’s another one of them worthy subjects. But this works, too. It’s about AIDS and the 80s and smuggling experimental drugs from Mexico to sick people. It’s told very straightforwardly with no tricks to try to make things more dramatic or melodramatic than it was, and holding back really works here. It’s honest, interesting and very readable.

Loiterers by Simon Bossé (Conundrum Press)

This book consists of mostly wordless short stories, all with this layout. Many of the stories imagine what it would be like if animals were kinda like humans and kinda like the animals depicted. Sometimes it’s funny and sometimes the effect is downright nightmarish: Above we have a child cuckoo that moves in with a family, proceeds to push the other children off the balcony and then pretends that everything is OK. The mother senses that something is off, but… what? Didn’t there use to be more children?

Creepy.

Oh, that’s the last of the books. Just look:

So here’s to 2017. As a year it’ll probably suck worse than many a year before it, but perhaps there’ll be some good comics.

FF1993: Palestine

Palestine #1-9 by Joe Sacco.

Last time we visited Sacco (which was with Yahoo), we saw that he had gotten a burgeoning interest in journalism, war and Palestinians. So doing an extended reportage tour to Palestine (and Israel) and a comic book series was the logical progression from that.

Tackling a serious subject doesn’t mean that Sacco abandoned his crazy foreshortenings and perspectives. This miasmatic maelstrom of words and images reflect Sacco’s ambivalence to the entire project perfectly: One the one hand, he wants to portray the situation honestly and try to bring people’s awareness to what’s going on. On the other hand, he also feels like a tourist that can’t really make any difference.

Sacco doesn’t make a secret of where his sympathies lie. Well, not much.

The book is about Sacco, too, where his feelings toward this project shifts between the grandiose and benevolent…

… and a cynical, fed up attitude. This isn’t “objective” reportage, but I think by involving and inserting himself into the narrative all the time gives it a powerful verisimilitude. Or at least the feeling of one.

As Sacco explains in the only “note” in this series, he spent two months there during the 1991-92 winter. The first issue was published in early 1993, and the last in late 1995. By that time, what he was writing about was four years in the past, which is the most frequently heard argument about comics as journalism: Drawing comics just takes so darn long. If this had been a prose book, Sacco could probably have had it completed four months after his sojourn instead of four years.

Sacco is just brilliant at depicting these topsy-turvy action scenes: Everything is askew: The perspectives, the captions, the panels, the fish-eye lens effect. It’s also pure comics, with no nods to filmatic techniques. And it’s easy to see why it took Sacco this long to complete the series: The artwork is meticulous, with all that hatching all over the pages.

In the second issue, Sacco experimented with putting in a long text section. I could speculate that this might have been done to save some time, and fortunately Sacco doesn’t repeat this in later issues.

A recurring theme in later Sacco works have been the uneasy relationship he has to “real” journalists. He wants to be one, and he admires them, but they’re way more cynical than Sacco ever wants to be. Here a journalist critiques a photo Sacco took of the police dragging a woman during a demonstration.

Sacco is often exasperated with the naked and not very photogenic racism the Palestinians have towards the Jews. Sacco’s mission is obviously to humanise the Palestinians (which he does admirably), but he doesn’t shy away from depicting them saying horrible things, either.

We’re regaled with story after story of Israeli “enhanced interrogation” techniques (i.e., torture), especially at the hands of the secret police. That’s a pretty good joke up there.

Sacco consistently portrays himself as being not very brave, as here when a demonstration erupts and he tries to force himself to not run away, but instead stay and take pictures.

Palestine was originally planned as a six issue series, I think, but in the fifth issue, it was announced that it’s going to be nine issues instead. And Sacco mentions in one of the early issues that he wasn’t going to go into details of the refugee camps that much. But then issues six to eight are subtitled “In The Gaza Strip”, and are mostly all from the refugee camps.

Sacco feels it necessary to mention that the facts he’s reporting the people as saying are from 1992, not the present time.

I think Palestine is a powerful work, but I think Sacco is painfully aware of potential problems for the reader: “In other words, let the tales of woe begin!” By the third issue I was starting to think “geez! I’ve got six more issues of tales of abuse to read”. It’s exhausting and it’s relentless. Sacco does include lighter moments, but they’re pretty far and wide.

Sacco’s art changes radically for the Gaza issues. Instead of the flowing, exaggerated layouts, it’s mostly on a grid, and a grid that looks ruled, too, and there are gutters and everything. Only the captions are allowed to retain their organic look.

I must admit I was a bit confused by the ending: I thought perhaps that there would be another issue that I had somehow just never bought. But after a few seconds I got it, and it’s a perfect ending.

*slow clap*

Palestine has been published in several collected editions over the years and has gotten rewards and was positively reviewed at the time.

This post is part of the Fantagraphics Floppies series.

FF1996: Villa of the Mysteries

Villa of the Mysteries #1-2 by Mack White.

My goal for this blog series was to (re-)read all Fantagraphics comic book comics, but, dear reader, I have to let you know that I failed! Failed, I tell you! I have been unable to acquire the third issue of this comic, even going so far as to try to buy a copy from Mack White himself.

But no reply.

So sorry to let you down, reader.

But what are the first two issues (which I bought in the 90s) like?

From the name, cover and introduction, it would be natural to assume that this would be about Greek stuff, just like first generation underground artist Frank Stack was doing around this time.

I guess you could sort of call Mack White a third generation underground artist.

He started off in the 90s, published by storied underground publisher Rip Off Press, and his artwork has an underground comix vibe. It’s rather stiff, but it has a kind of inhuman sheen to it that I find very attractive.

And as with previous generations of underground artists, there’s a lot of drugs (especially psychedelic ones), rock music and sex in his comics.

Oh, and conspiracy theories. White loves conspiracy theories, although it’s sometimes hard to tell if they are parodies of conspiracy theories or real ones. That’s all part of the conspiracy! To confuse us!

There is also a lot of references to weird religion, and here (as with the conspiracies), White seems to both make fun of them and admire them at the same time.

The first issue is brimming with ideas and concepts, and is rather fascinating.

The second issue is a bit different. The centrepiece of the issue is a strip about the Branch Davidians (those cult people who killed themselves in Waco in the 90s, for you youngsters). For the first page or so, I thought that this was going to turn out to be another poke at conspiracy theorists…

… but no, it’s an earnest piece on what the remaining Branch Davidians think happened, which includes, of course, mass murder by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Because…

Yes, that… once… sounded crazy…

There’s even a postscript where White lays out further possible conspiracies, which includes Bill Clinton getting his hair cut by one of the cult members (at which point I decided that he must be telling this joke with a straight face) and … Vince Foster. And perhaps Koresh was a Mossad agent.

It’s all very perplexing. And now Trump is president. Surely it all ties together somehow.

The longest piece in the issue is a kind of riffing off of the David Koresh tragedy, where our heroine (who turns out to be a brainwashed CIA agent) visits a religious compound, lured there by this very Jack Kamenesque little girl. (Another underground connection: Being EC comics fans.)

And again the ATF kills them all, but only on this material plane.

I still don’t know whether White is taking the piss or whether he’s sincere (sometimes). Perhaps he doesn’t know either. It’s possible!

It’s all very puzzling.

Mack White seems to be doing book illustrations now and has a talk radio show.

This post is part of the Fantagraphics Floppies series.