It’s day two of the comics reading marathon, and today I hope to put in more hours than yesterday. The rules are the same, though: No reviewing.
Nocturne by Tara Booth (2d cloud)
This is amazing! It’s a hilarious but simultaneously moving look at an encounter gone wrong and the aftermath.
Booth’s artwork is so fresh and expressive: This is exactly what not being able to sleep is, in one single piece.
It’s wordless, but it’s a very clear, extremely readable narrative.
Masterful. And yet another beautiful 2d cloud production job; as an object it’s totally appealing.
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Beats Up The Marvel Universe! by Ryan North and Erica Henderson (Marvel)
Squirrel Girl has been a monthly delight for years now, but it’s unfortunately shutting down now. So I got this 2016 graphic novel that I somehow missed at the time.
The good thing is that it’s just as silly as the normal issues are.
But… it’s… not actually hilarious. Perhaps they got too caught up in making a good story to allow for good gags? I mean, it’s perfectly fine, and the story is good — really good — but I’m still disappointed. I guess I was perhaps just looking forward to reading this too much.
It’s got an epic feel.
Pope Hats by Hartley Lin (Adhouse Books)
Hey… didn’t he used to be named something else? Ethan… not Van Sciver… er… Rilly? Ethan Rilly? Well, something like that.
I’m guessing this is his real name, because (unlike the previous five issues of this series), these are short vignettes about his own life, apparently.
I’m not going to make the usual comparison to a certain other cartoonist (oops!), but this is even more like that than usual. It makes for a perfect comic book, though: Lin must be just about the only alternative comic book person to still have a comic in this format. (There’s Love and Rockets and… uhm… uhm…)
Half of the vignettes here are great, but the rest didn’t really do much for me.
Escape Journey 3 by Ogeretsu Tanaka (Sublime)
Hm… How did I end up with this? I haven’t read the first two volumes, so it was initially rather hard to follow.
But then it turns out that there’s basically no plot to speak of beyond the two main characters coming out to everybody, and that’s it. No intrigue or storyline.
Adult adoption!? The Japanese are weird.
But they sure know their science facts.
Blame This on the Boogie by Rina Ayuyang (Drawn & Quarterly).
Well, this is a structurally odd book, but let’s read the first-ish four pages:
Yes, that’s very typical of what’s to follow: Ayuyang has a chatty style where she talks directly to the reader, which is a pretty charming thing.
The first half of the book is a traditional retelling of her childhood (well, up until high school), and nothing really dramatic happens. It’s a typical sensitive child story: The horror of school and the fantasy life at home.
The most vivid bit is when she discovers musicals. That sequence is absolutely brilliant.
And while the art style is… simple… she does manage to convey a lot of emotion.
But then the second half of the book is just random things from her life without much theme or anything. It’s such a weird thing to do in a book. And it’s just hard to understand what she wants to make here; it’s like looking in on somebody that’s convinced that everybody else is the same as her and thinks the same as her.
So there’s a lot of sports talk.
And a long long sequence about a reality TV game show or something. Why would anybody…
NO I DON”T KNOW THE ONE YOU”RE TALKING ABOUT.
Poochytown by Jim Woodring (Fantagraphics)
Hm… so is this the last Frank book?
Anyway, I love Woodring, and this is very much in the same vein as those earlier books. The style is even more perfect than before, and the storytelling is magic.
This time Frank (sort of) befriends Man-Pig and gets to heroically rescue his real valise creature friends, so it’s… the gentlest of all Frank adventures.
Still lots of killing and maiming, of course. It’s Woodring.
An Honest Performance by Will Dinski (2d cloud)
This is a little rumination on being in a documentary movie. Eerie.
Comets Comets by Blaise Larmee (2d cloud)
There was some big controversy over Larmee last years that I don’t quite recall what was about, but one of the more puzzling things about the coverage was that several news outlets were treating Larmee’s fictions as non-fiction. I mean, some of that’s understandable, because he went to some lengths to establish web sites and stuff to “document” the reality behind his stories. And I love that stuff, but it’s fiction.
Part of the fun is decoding what Larmee is having performing, and in this older little comic, he seems to be documenting a podcast? “Comets Comets”? Is that a reference to the “Comics Comics” podcast? Was that a podcast?
In any case, this is a fascinating little booklet, and Larmee does all the fun tricks like obscuring part of the text and stuff.
And I love his artwork.
Looking Good by Will Dinski (2d cloud)
Oh, yeah, I bought a lot of older 2d cloud stuff.
This is a pretty non-consequential mini, but it’s cute. It folds out, and it’s rather… bemusing.
Ablatio Penis by Will Dinski (2d cloud)
What? Another Dinski think? Yes. But this is no mini, but instead a full-sized comic. Sort of.
Dinski is trying out something here in the layouts, and I think it kinda works? It makes things feel a bit like a TV show, though. I’m not sure why — the laboured pacing…
The story is just bizarre. It’s like an extended shaggy dog tale, but told with a weird gravitas.
Radically Rearranged Ronin Ragdolls by … lots of people:
But mostly Kevin Eastman? And a lot of different covers.
I bought this because I was just curious. I was never a fan of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (although I bought issue #1 when it was published, because I was curious back then too. Most curious), but it just seemed to weird for Eastman to return to this stuff after all these years.
It’s about three ninja cats or something. As these things go, I’ve read a lot worse, but that doesn’t mean that this was worth the time spent reading it.
Well, that’s cute.
Shit is Real by Aisha Franz (Drawn & Quarterly)
This is really special. The largely unexplained shifts between reality and fantasy are so fluid that after a while you stop to try to even decode what’s what, and whether things are dreams or hallucinations or just idle thoughts. (All of them may be represented here.)
It really works. The story being told isn’t very… unusual (it’s about young people trying to figure out their lives (and going to parties)), but Franz makes it feel like it matters.
And the artwork’s nice. I guess you could call it Post-Hanselmann or something.
Tegneserier by Tim Ng Tvedt (Jippi)
The title of this slim book means “Comics”, which is amusing. Tvedt’s previous book was absolutely fantastic; a tour de france I mean force of comics stylisation, reducing the form down to an irresistible hypnotic rhythm. So I was wondering what he was going to follow that up with, and I think he’s moved more into visual poetry territory.
There’s still some recognisable comics elements here, and the book is pretty amusing: It’s based on well-known phrases cut up and rearranged, sometimes to humorous effect.
It’s pretty unique.
And not to spoil the ending, but here’s a spoiler for the ending: “ERASING IT”.
Tim & Thomas 37 by Will & Desberg (Zoom)
This is an album in the less than celebrated series about Tif et Tondu. As you can see, it’s in the very stiff pre-Franquin Spirou style. Apparently they didn’t even bother to issue some of the earliest adventures in album for in France, but now they’re gearing up for an Integrale, which means that they’ve gotten scanning… and which also means that other countries can translate and print them up cheaply. And so, suddenly, a Danish company is dumping a huge number of them on the market, and I’m sufficiently on board to pick up a couple of them.
I have no nostalgia towards these characters, but I do find this style very appealing. I mean, just look a that attempt at 50s high class furniture.
Too bad the computer lettering is so awful.
This album is, incongruously enough, from the late 80s, and it’s a depressing read. Tif et Tondu have lost all their money and have to take crappy jobs… and the plot of the album involves racist cops that have a plan to make France French again…
… by killing or deporting all immigrants. (That was “self defence”.)
I can totally understand them wanting to bring this comic up to date, but it’s just so weird reading a comic book in this style about racist cops murdering immigrants.
Rudy by Mark Connery
This is a cute little mini of more Rudy stuff. And… That’s it.
Ink Brick: A Journal of Comics Poetry no. 3
Wow. This has a dust jacket that folds out into this huge Prince Valiant-like Sunday page thing. Nice.
And the selection is really strong. I don’t think there was a single piece in here I though was bad, but the question is with “comics poetry” just what that is, and some go for illustrated text, really.
But most are more integrated.
And I loved this thing. En excavation of poetry.
Strong Eye Contact by Christopher Adams (2d cloud)
This is a series of tiny stories about a sad sack unlucky character…
… but is there more? I don’t really get it. Me dunce.
And then it shifts to this format. Admirably huge gutters.
And then there’s this style.
OK, that’s enough comics for today. I’m woozy.
See you tomorrow.