Comics Cavalcade Day 6

Eep. I got caught up in an avalanche of Emacs bug fixing, so instead of working my way through the unread comics here, I’ve been slacking off. And buying more comics! Aargh! This blog series will never end!

Previous rules apply: Just reading comics, no reviewing, because nobody has time for that.

Usagi Yojimbo by Stan Sakai (IDW)

What?! IDW!? Sakai has been at Dark Horse for several decades, so I wonder what brought this on. His output at Dark Horse has been rather … intermittent lately (and doing stuff like illustrating company boss’ writing, if I remember correctly?), so perhaps this is a good change.

Oh, variant covers…

And it’s in colour! Wow. Looks very nice indeed.

The story is a bit unusual for an Usagi Yojimbo story. I mean, it’s not like there hasn’t been a lot of supernatural stuff before, but this is 100% supernatural. And it’s pretty entertaining.

Oh… more variant covers… Well, it’s nice to see IDW pushing Usagi hard. And they’re reprinting the entire series in colour, apparently.

Mats Kamp by Mats Jonsson (Galago)

Eep. Don’t tell me this is about the joy of parenthood…

Well, it’s Mats Jonsson (of Hey Princess fame), and he’s quite amusing as usual. However… this seems so familiar. Have I read this before?

*roots through the bookshelves*

Yes! I’ve bought this twice. Oh, well. Next.

13: The Astonishing Lives of the Neuromantics by Yves Navant (Northwest)

And, yes, I moved out to the balcony. It’s a nice, warm day today.

The art style here is pretty fun. It’s like a 70s underground thing, but given a sleazy British 80s shiny makeover. Like S. Clay Wilson working for 2000 AD?

Unfortunately, the story’s rather hard to engage with. Concepts are dropped in on a whim and there’s little follow through on any of it… except the main er plot that you’d wish there’d be less of.

Or is that more like Ranxerox?

Well Come by Erik Nebel (Yeti Press)

What a nice-looking little book. It’s full of pages like this: Colourful (but keeping to a palette) with a playful attitude towards comics mechanics.

It’s pretty amusing. It’s got a great sense of rhythm.

Ink Brick no. 4 edited by Alexander Rothman

I bought all the issues of Ink Brink a few months ago, and I’ve been reading them in random order. Some of the issues is a bit on the “here’s a poem that I’ve drawn some comics around” side, but this is a very strong issue.

Lots of different approaches.

And beautiful and fun ways to read.

Stunning.

Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen by Dylan Horrocks (Fantagraphics)

As I’m sure (ahem) you’ll recall from a previous Comics Cavalcade, I got the final issue of Pickle recently. That made me wonder whether Horrocks had done anything that I’d missed… and, yes, I had. I mean, I remember ordering this books years ago, but I must never have gotten it.

I loved Pickle, so my expectations were high.

And it’s… fun. It’s sorta-autobiographical; about Horrocks having problem doing new comics and his writing job on Batgirl from DC.

There’s so many callbacks to his obsessions in Pickle (finding lost comics, being in the comics). I so wanted this book to really work…

… but I don’t think it really does. It’s a goofy, fun adventure (with some chilling bits in the Japanese comics near the end with an Evil Nerd), but it feels a bit… atrophied? Hicksville felt real; Sam Zabel is professional.

Love and Rockets #7 by Jaime and Beto Hernandez (Fantagraphics)

*gasp* *choke* I had forgotten that I got this the other day. It’d otherwise have been the first thing to read today, because because because.

After some pretty momentous issues, Jaime takes a breather and does a fun story with Tonta. Man, his lines are just so gorgeous.

Well, that’s odd. Beto does “And Another Punk Rock Reunion”, which is basically what his brother had been doing the past few issues. Beto’s approach is er different.

As with some of his more recent stories, I get the unsettling feeling that Beto’s gaslighting his readers. He, again, presents a lot of glimpses of Fritz’ history, and I can’t quite get them to match up with what I thought I remembered about her story. I’m guessing he’s got a better overview than I have, though, but…

The Hector/Killer bits were more straightforward, but felt a bit unearned.

Aposimz by Thutomu Nihei (Vertical)

This is a pretty standard alien/robot/sci-fi/action thing. The plot is exactly what you’d expect, and the dialogue is Extruded Japanese Comics Dialogue.

But it got its charms. The artwork’s kinda nice in a vague way and it moves rapidly.

The vagueness of the artwork makes it a bit hard to read sometimes. Here I was wondering why he was talking to himself until, after looking long and hard, I saw that Lady Tatiana (the preying mantis robot thing) was sitting on his left shoulder.

But, you know.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Tempest #6 by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill.

This series has presented a number of British comics professionals (that I haven’t worked up the stamina to check whether are real or made up) and their sad destinies. Since this famously is Alan Moore’s final comic book ever, these do feel poignant.

And so everything comes to and end in the plot as well.

There’s apparently been a large number of think pieces written on the occasion of this comic being published, but I haven’t read any of them.

I thought this series was quite amusing, but I have not felt any impetus towards teasing out the references and what they all mean… because I have zero trust in Moore having things to tease out that I’ll find interesting.

I mean, it’s sophomoric fun when the worst person in the world, James Bond, finally is killed off in this summary fashion. “All the frat boys go boo ya!” Great! It’s scenes like this that people like Warren Ellis has made an entire career out of copying from Moore. But it’s just the details, like putting the names of Bond movies in the lower right corner there, presumably because Moore has zero faith in us Getting It. Which is why I think there’s nothing here to get other than what the surface tells us there is.

Hey! Swifts! They fly fast, man. You’d almost think their names had something to do with that.

Anyway, I thought Tempest was a fun read, and it had a surprisingly satisfying end. And one of these days I’m going to read Abhay Khosla’s article about it.

Kramers Ergot #10 edited by Sammy Harkham (Fantagraphics)

OK, I moved back in again because it’s getting too dark outside.

When there’s a new Kramers Ergot, it’s always an event, and this time around it’s extra controversial because the editor dissed Best American Comics readers or something. But I understand the impulse; Kramers Ergot 10 is full on comics, all the time, and Best American Comics has a tendency to be less so.

I love the size and feel of this issue. It’s big: When reading it, it fills your view, but it’s not so big or heavy that it’s uncomfortable. And it’s long (170 pages), so you don’t get the feeling that shorter anthologies sometimes give you: That you’re dreading that it’s over before it’s even begun. So I’m thumbing up the format with all my thumbs.

Many of the pieces are about reading or making comics, too, which may or may not be annoying. But look at that Jason Murphy page. Wow.

Huh. Blutch redraws a sequence from Blueberry? But changes Angel Face’s gender? That’s… odd?

Anyway, the pieces in here is a somewhat odd mix, but it mostly works. Some of the pieces look made for the format, at these are the most successful ones. Others seem to be scraps lying around… but this could have made for pleasant sequencing. Since the book is so long, it’s easy not to get annoyed with pieces that don’t feel as vital as the rest.

However, Harkham’s predilection for running strips by 90s alternative cartoonists is really jarring. In an anthology, you can accept pieces that don’t work, but pieces that are boring and uninteresting brings the experience down.

There’s many, many good works in here, but the standout piece in the book is the closing story from Conner Willumsen. He uses the large format perfectly, and it’s a riveting read. Perhaps mostly because it’s as confusing visually as it is plot wise. Masterful.

Clue: Candlestick #3 by Dash Shaw (IDW)

As someone who knows nothing about the game Clue, this series has been slightly confusing for me, but it’s basically just a murder mystery and we are supposed to try to figure out who the murderer is.

Reader, I failed.

But it’s still a pretty fun read. Dash Shaw is pretty interesting.

Wow. An alternate cover by Kevin Huizenga.

OK, I think it’s time for me to go to bed now, but perhaps there’ll be time for comics tomorrow. Gotta get them all read!

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