The to the finish continues, and as usual, no reviews, just reading.
Marble Cake by Scott Jason Smith (Avery Hills)
This is such a fresh comic. It’s told via an ensemble cast that more or less all interact with one another kinda randomly, but it all builds up and connects. It’s such a well-observed piece: Everything feels true and real, and none of the characters are artists, filmmakers or writers. That’s a rarity these days!
Hey, I’ve wondered that myself. Uncanny.
I guess you can see the lineage to British cinema, but it’s very far from being a drawn movie: It uses the comics medium perfectly, with formal touches like different panel shapes in different sections of the book (of which I’m not showing any, because I don’t want to give anything away).
It’s brilliant: It’s an effortless, gripping read. Best comic of the year for me, I think.
Simon & Louise by Mac de Radiguès (Conundrum)
This book is no great surprise — de Radiguès is in his element here. But it’s just such a sweet, perfect little book, with bright summery colours. There’s so many nice little touches, like the recurring punk guardian angel.
I guess there could be some elements some would find trite… I mean, there’s many scenes here that are kinda cliché. But so sweet. So cute.
Fearless #1 (Marvel)
By all those people above there.
I don’t know why I bought this… Hm… was it because it involves Kelly Thompson? She’s fun.
Unfortunately, she only writes a very short itsy bitsy thing at the end of this anthology.
The other two (longer) bits aren’t bad, though. And Millie the Model is back.
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #47 by Ryan North and Derek Charm (Marvel)
That crossover nonsense over with, we’re now back to the usual nonsense (which is a lot better). It’s another very amusing issue, and it looks like they’re gearing up for a grand conclusion to the series in issue fifty.
Errr. ASCII is a subset of UTF-8, so that’s one variant she didn’t try. What did she try? UTF-16!? HA HA HA HA.
Fence by those people on the cover up there (Boom Box)
The thing here is to try to emulate a Japanese comic to the max, I guess? It’s not entirely successful — the storytelling is rather choppy.
And there are sections in here that are really, really boring. But it’s not all bad.
Yoko Tsuno vol 20 by Roger Leloup (Carlsen)
Yesterday I carted a case of duplicates to a used bookstore and rooted through their comics and got (among other things) this 90s album in return. Yoko Tsuno is an odd series: It never seemed to become really popular, but it was always kinda there in the 80s, managing to rack up a substantial number of translated albums in the Scandinavian countries. I lost interest, because it’s… Everything is 100% intense all the time; everything is drama. It’s exhausting to read.
The first albums weren’t sci-fi, either, but this one is super sci-fi. It’s so sci that I can’t really make out what the fi is all about; it’s confusing. It’s something about transfers of souls, and transfers of memories, and transfers or self, and those aren’t the same thing, and everything is… confusing.
But it was nice to dip back into this. I like Leloup’s artwork; it’s very classic clear line, but with a certain dynamism. The figures are rather stiff, though, but that’s part of the style.
Hm… it just occurred to me that, unusually enough for a Frenchey adventure comic, this perhaps fails the reverse Bechdel test. That is, there are a couple of male characters in this album, but their scenes are brief and they (I think) never talk to each other. Most of the significant characters are women, and the conversations (and fights) are between them.
Yakari vol 14 by Derib + Job (Carlsen)
This is another find from the used book store. Yakari is a series for small children, charmingly drawn by Derib. I remember reading these as a child… although not this album, which is from long after I stopped reading them.
Benoît Brisefer vol 4 by Peyo, Gos and Walthery (Semic)
This was a children’s series I did not read as a child — I think they started translating it in the mid-80s? Which was too late for me.
I don’t know my Peyo history, really, but I think Benoît Brisefer was Peyo’s “other” series, not, er, quite as famous as his Smurf series.
The concept is very simple: the title character is a little boy who’s incredibly strong. Except when he gets a cold, and he loses all his strength. So the plots in the albums I’ve seen invariably involve him foiling some villain through his super strength, then he gets a cold and is kidnapped, and remains so until the cold goes away and he captures the villain for sure, this time. The end.
You can kinda see why this wasn’t as big a deal as, well, a lot of other Frenchey children’s series of the 60s.
But the drawings are classic BD and there’s jokes here and there that aren’t that bad.
Les 7 Vies de l’Épervier vol 4 by P. Cothias and A. Juillard (Carlsen)
This is a series I’m completely unfamiliar with, I think. It’s from the mid-80s, which wasn’t a good period for frenchey comics. If I understand things correctly, it was difficult to get anything published that wasn’t sci-fi, porn or sci-fi porn.
This is slightly on the porny side, but is kinda interesting. It’s about the olden days of witch finders and the power struggle between the church and the king and stuff. It’s got a lot of texture, both in the writing and the artwork. And the colour palette is pretty unique.
I think I’m going to be on the lookout for the other volumes in this series.
Syncopated: An anthology of nonfiction picto-essays edited by Brendan Burford (Villard)
I picked this up from the used bookstore, too, but reading the introduction I was getting bad vibes. I mean, the title of the book is harrowing enough: “picto-essays”? But then “comics” in sneer quotes?
This is gonna suck! Badly!
But then it turns out that at least half of the pieces in here are good. The Nick Bertozzi story about how hay bailing works is fascinating.
The definition of “essay” here is very wide. Tricia van den Bergh does a portfolio of drawings from a park, and very lovely drawings they are.
About one third of the pieces aren’t essays in any way, I’d say, but are just normal (auto-)biographical comics, like this one by Sarah Glidden.
Wow! Paul Karasik!
Anyway, this anthology is a bit hit and miss, but there’s some really good stuff in here. Nice random find.
And now… it’s late. Do you know where your cat is?