Comics Daze

It’s less than a week since I did the previous daze, but I feel like taking a break from triaging Emacs bugs. So… another day of just doing nothing but reading comics.


14:48: I Know What I Am by Gina Siciliano (Fantagraphics)

OK, I got up a bit late today.

Well, OK, we get an infodump start about the counter-reformation and stuff, which is er interesting?, but the writing is really off-putting. “They layout of the city guided them easily to the various cathedrals and fountains.” NOO! NOT THE FOUNTAINS! HOW NEFARIOUS OF THE ROMAN CHURCH! LEADING VISITORS TO THE FOUNTAINS! NOOO IT CANNOT BE THE OUTRAGE

So that’s excruciating, but I thought this HOLD ONTO YOUR HATS MY TWITTER PEEPS THE OUTRAGE CONTINUES thread style of writing would end when the introduction is over, but I’m now on page 30 and it’s still this way and I’m ditching this book.


And the artwork is meh to the max.

15:12: Festens charmigaste tjej by My Palm (Galago)

Swedish autobio at its best.

It’s really fun, smart and has these interesting, effective narrative bits. Some pacing problems towards the end, though, but a totes entertaining read.

16:05: An nod, Sir — is this your missing gonad? by Jim Woodring (Fantagraphics)

Hm… well, the artwork is sharp as ever.

But the text reads like something from a “caption this cartoon” contest. There’s rarely any real impact.

16:18: Department of Mind-Blowing Theories by Tom Gauld (Drawn & Quarterly)

Hm. I have some reservations before starting to read: Gauld sometimes comes off as a bit smarmy (how many of his cartoons basically say “books are good” or “being stupid is bad”?), so I basically stopped buying his books some years back. But somehow I bought this one, and… it’s about science? This could be super-smarmy.


I do think Gauld’s artwork is charming.

But, yes, the smarm.

I did LOL (on the inside) of this one, though.

The book is fine, I guess: There’s a bunch of gags that are amusing, which is better than most books of this kind.

16:54: Psychodrama Illustrated #2 by Gilbert Hernandez (Fantagraphics)

Oh! There was another issue of this in the stack o comics… The first issue was really good, I thought.

And it’s fun to see Hernandez keep working the serial pamphlet format. I know that everything is moving to books, but getting a story in instalments over a period of time also has its charms.

My super-secret theory is that everybody somebody criticises Hernandez’s women’s figures, he increases the size of Fritz’ boobs, just to piss people off.

This is another one of Fritz’ movies, complete in 24 pages. It’s very, very brisk — it’s almost like a recap, but it’s got some affecting scenes.

17:09Un Uomo un’avventura: L’uomo dei Caraibi by Hugo Pratt (Faraos)

Ah, yes; this is another one of the stories Pratt did for the “A man of adventure” series in the late 70s. The one I read on the last daze day was surprisingly good, and subverted the remit to a large extent.

And, again, this is not very typical for that series, but this time there’s a different reason: This was created over a long period of time, and wasn’t created with that series in mind. So we get to see Pratt’s artistic evolution, from his more scratchy earlier style…

… to his more mature, chiaroscuro style.

This is minor Pratt, but it’s still pretty spiffy.


17:44: Paying the Land by Joe Sacco (Metropolitan)

Oh, I thought this was going to be another of Sacco’s war journal things (which are mostly pretty good). But this is about the Dene people and land rights and fracking and stuff? I do like the “unity” of the page designs here…

And how it shifts completely when Sacco himself appears on the page, becoming chaotic in a totally different way.

But we have to talk about the binding. It looks like they have the same designer as A24’s books: The “but it looks fine on the PDFs” school of bookmaking.

There’s no margins here whatsoever, so Sacco’s artwork and speech balloon disappear into the binding:

Which is absolutely totally and utterly rigid, and bending it with all my incredible strength doesn’t budge it at all.

IT”S COMPLETELY MADDENING!!! HOW CAN THEY DO THIS!??! I’m sitting here straining my arms on every page just to be able to read this thing.

And… is this thing even worth it? I have a totally rational loathing and hatred of US-style documentaries: Half a sentence from one person/voiceover/scene shift/half a sentence from another person and I’m sitting there going I”D RATHER DIE THAN WATCH A SECOND MORE OF THIS.

This is like that. It’s like a nine hour Sixty Minutes segment. But on paper.

But… I do like Sacco’s artwork; I really do. The obsessive crosshatching and those round faces; I like it. And the story he’s telling is interesting… I mean, I’m interested in the subject matter, even if he’s telling it is the worst way imaginable…

[time passes]

OK, now I’ve changed my mind: At about page 100, Sacco changed his approach, and now it’s getting really gripping.

But now I’m really hungry!

19:18: Time to go get some food.

20:05: Food!

I mean… a food-like… substance…

That’s gonna last me several days.

20:05Tif et Tondu: Le Gouffre interdit by Will, Tillieux and Desberg (Zoom)

It’s impossible to read Paying the Land while eating, because I have to use both my hands to try to pry it as open as it’ll get, so I’m switching to this while eating.

Tif et Tondu is a series that’s been running since the… 40s? It’s definitely a C-level children’s comics, so it never got a translation into any language I could read while I was a child, but I just can’t resist picking them up now. (The Danes are releasing about four of the albums per year of this series, because doing translated versions of Frenchey comics has become much, much cheaper the last few years, if I understand things correctly: The French (and Belgians) have been feeding the nostalgia market at home with new, collected editions of just about everything that’s ever been published there, and that means that they’re scanning the artwork and/or restoring it (and recolouring it). But that means that the files are now available for publishers everywhere, and with computer lettering, we’re talking an entirely new ballgame. So while I’m guessing only old people are buying these things (each album costs like $24), it’s finally economically feasible to do translated editions of these less-than-essential comics.)

So how is it? It’s… it’s fine. It’s a series with characters that have no character, so it’s all about the action and the humour, and it’s… it’s pretty pedestrian.

I’ll still keep buying these, because nostalgia for Frenchey children’s comics.

20:34: Paying the Land (cont.) by Joe Sacco (Metropolitan)

Back into the book, and boy are my arms getting tired of holding it. (And you’re getting tired of me whining about what a horrible, horrible binding it has.)

OK, I hated this book at the start, but by the end I was really into it. It’s good work; really interesting. I wonder what the people in it thinks about it… it’s quite critical of many of them. An outsider comes and makes this heavy tome about them and their culture, and… I’m guessing some may be angry.

21:39: Tad Martin #7 by Casanova Nobody Frankenstein (Domino)

Time travelling: I read the 8th issue of Casanova Frankenstein’s series some weeks back, and it was amazeballs. One of the best comics I’ve read this year. But I had this one in the stack of unread comics!

Gorgeous and fun (and wordless). Brisk read.

Gotta buy all the previous issues… I think I’ve got a couple of them somewhere? Gotta tidy and sort the comics one of these… months…

21:47: One Million Tiny Fires by Ashley Robin Franklin (Silver Sprocket)

Love the metallic shimmering ink on the cover. Hypnotic!

It’s a very traditional horror genre exercise, and it sort of feels like I’ve seen all the scenes before?

Loved the ending, though.

21:56: Altitude by Jean-Marc Rochette and Olivier Bocquet (Self Made Hero)

Rochette’s artwork is slightly odd… it’s often not exactly clear what people’s expressions are supposed to er express…

Oh, this is about rock climbing?! Nooooo! I read Jiro Taniguchi’s nine million page thing the other year… Summit of the Gods? I think that was it… not that that was awful or anything, but that’s more than enough climbing comics for anybody.

But… I found myself kinda gripped by this comic. It’s autobio, about Rockette’s teenage years when he was a rock climbing nerd. It’s… it’s exciting. And goes places you never thought it would, because it’s really oddly structured.

23:32: The Rust Kingdom by Spugna (Hollow Press)

This isn’t my kind of thing, really…

But of all of these kinds of things, this thing is the most. Of this kind of thing. EVER!

So much blood, so much viscera, so much dungeon quest.

23:48: Topp: Promoter Gary Topp Brought Us The World by David Collier (Conundrum)

Hm… didn’t Collier do something about a promoter back in the Fantagraphics (?) pamphlet series? In, like, the 90s? Perhaps this is an extremely expanded version of that?

It’s not!

But this was hard to get into. I really like Collier’s work, but this book is like an odd in-joke. It consists solely of one-page anecdotes, and who the “I” character is sometimes takes some puzzling out. It starts with one page of Collier being “I” and then it’s the Gary character for a large number of pages. I think.

The anecdotes are also very inside baseball — sure, Andy Warhol, but why did Gary shoulder him at random on the streets?

Collier does this thing throughout the book: “Lookit this ad with Ruth for prostate cancer checks!” Not knowing what “Ruth” refers to, is that a treatment? “Ruth for checks”? Is a “cancer check” a form of currency? Then it becomes clear at the end of the page that it’s an ad featuring Babe Ruth, the sportsballer, promoting checking for prostate cancer.

I mean, that’s just a random page, and that’s one where things are explained.

Perhaps this is a book for Toronto insiders.

But… I have to say that about two thirds through the book, it started to pick up, perhaps not-so-coincidentally where the focus of the book changes from Gary Topps to Collier himself. There’s more continuity between the pages, and there’s, just, like, more interesting things going on.

Perhaps Collier just wasn’t that into doing a book about Gary Topps.

01:59: The Brontës: Infernal Angria by Hud McKenney and Rick Geary (Headless Shakespeare Press)

I loves me some Rick Geary… but his work here seems oddly sketch-like. I mean, sketch-like Rick Geary is better than 97% of all other things in the world, but this seems like minor Geary.

The story is really cute; a reimagining of the Brontë siblings and their fantasy universe. The story focuses on Branwell to an odd degree, though.

Well, the Geary artwork makes it worth reading on its own. It’s too bad it’s a print-on-demand book, though… those books just feel wrong.

02:29: Windows on the World by Robert Mailer Anderson, Zach Anderson and John Sack (Fantagraphics)

Uh-oh. The more people work on a comic book, the worse it gets, usually. There’s three people here! That’s two more than the ideal!

Well, let’s see…

The sticker on the cover says “now a major motion picture”, so I was afraid that this was going to read like a badly disguised script, but the storytelling is really good. Especially the wordless scenes: Sack has got some serious chops.

The dialogue, though… oy vey… It’s like Extruded Indie Movie Dialogue Workshop drippings. And the plot… ay ay ay.

Despite all that, this is really readable. They really lucked out with Sack as the illustrator, because this could have been truly awful, but instead it’s a good read, even if several of the scenes (the sex club, the denouement) are just embarrassing.

03:16: The End.

It’s sleepytime! Twelve hours of comics reading is exhausting, but I got a little walk in there in the middle, so I’m not as punch drunk as I was at the end of the previous daze.

Nighty nighty.

2 thoughts on “Comics Daze”

  1. I loves me some Lars Ingebrigtsen … but his work here seems oddly typo-laden. I mean, typo-laden Lars Ingebrigtsen is better than 97% of all other things in the world, but this seems like minor Ingebrigtsen. Some good comics though.

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