I’m totally taking the day off today, and that means: Comics all day and all night.
13:51: Natacha Collected Edition: Vol 2 by Walthéry, Tillieux, Mittëi and others (Cobolt)
I thinking that it’d had been a long time since I ordered anything from Denmark, so here I am now, with 30kgs of new/old comics that I have to read.
I’m cheating a bit with this one, because I started reading it last night…
This collected edition does something kinda unusual: It drops in the Natacha covers that were running in Spirou at the time, which breaks up the story in a kinda annoying way… This is the problem with these editions made for the nostalgia market: They’re more about being complete than providing an optimal reading experience.
Not that it matters that much: Frenchey comics were serialised at a page of two pages per week at the time, and each page is treated as a separate unit by most of the people making these comics.
Some would put the cliffhanger on the second page, though, which gives the stories a particular rhythm that these interstitial pages break up.
Anyway, Natacha is not the most renowned of these comics for boys: She was created in the late 60s when the editors at Spirou wanted to introduce at least one series with a modern, woman heroine. It’s really good, though! Walthéry’s (a Peyo protegé) artwork is lively and charming, and the stories are propulsive fun. OK, there’s a lot of panels focusing on Natacha’s boobs and ass, but in a… tasteful? way.
14:44: Procedural by Walker Tate
Oh, wow! This is so much fun to read, and also… fills me with such dread. It’s amazing: The nightmarish (but trivial) situations these characters are in is just beyond.
14:55: Comix about different problems my friends and I have with our bodies #2 by Goda Trakumaite
I absolutely adore the obsessive patterning. It’s so… Aline Kominsky. These stories are all about health issues, and they are seriously unnerving.
And that’s absolutely horrifying. The Dalkon Shield sounds like a typical story where women’s health is concerned…
This is a newish Danish anthology… it’s all humour? But very varied artistic approaches. Mårdøn Smet (?) does this amazing Tony Millionaire-ish artwork… but the storytelling was kinda er challenging.
Johan Krarup does Batman and Robin…
Line Høj Høstrup gets rid of her cell phone.
It’s a pretty solid issue; I should get the other ones.
15:39: Grus by Anna Degnbol (Fahrenheit)
How odd — this book has the aesthetics of a risograph print — look at the beautiful texture in the blue — but it’s obviously not. So did they do this as a riso print, and then scan that? Or is the riso texture digitally created?
This is what I was thinking about while reading this…
Because, while pretty accomplished, it reads like a pitch for an American indie movie. It’s cinematographic in all the worst ways (with some exceptions), and mimics a three act movie structure perfectly.
It’s a pretty annoying thing to be reading.
16:18: Father by Gabriel M Howell
Most peculiar and reflexively misogynistic, I think? But… somewhat compelling.
And it’s printed in this odd way, with uncut pages printed on one side only. I kept looking inside to see if there was anything hidden, but nope.
16:26: Sidste år i Frankfurt by Jouko Ruokosenmäki (Zoom)
This is an autobio book by a Finnish comics editor, who’s worked for Semic/Egmont (the biggest Nordic publisher) for decades, apparently? We skip back and forth in time, but the concept is that this is his last year at the Frankfurt book show, and he’s thinking about his career in comics.
So it’s very inside baseball. The thing is… this should be a fascinating book to me: I’ve always wondered how this stuff works, and here we have an veteran giving us direct insight! But… it’s mostly just obscure?
For instance, here the author meets… someone? “Here he is. A giant.” And the author assumes that we know who that is, but I have no idea what comics creators look like. I just read the stuff.
So this is less personal than private. So I wondered what Danish insiders thought about it, and they loved it? Well, that makes sense.
The storytelling is nice otherwise, though.
17:00: Tif et Tondu de Blutch et Robber: Mais où est Kiki? (Zoom)
For the last decade or so, a bunch of more alternative comics people have been invited to make “special” albums with beloved children’s comics characters. Or, in this case, Tif et Tondu.
The attraction is pretty obvious: More adult reimaginings of characters that people have a nostalgic connection with. I’m just wondering whether this is a sound long-term strategy, because some of these albums have the potential to sour people’s affections…
Blutch et Robber here manage to give Tif et Tondu more character than they ever had in the original series, so that’s good. The story itself is such a mess, though, with killer robots, invisibility robes and insane lesbian villains that it’s all… tiresome? Yeah. Tiresome.
But it does look great.
17:56: Halleluja by Gotlib (Bogfabrikken)
This is an oldie: Published in Fluide Glacial in the mid-80s, and this Danish edition is from the mid-90s. It’s a lot less raunchy than Gotlib’s earlier work, and… I don’t think there’s much here that couldn’t be published today, if anything? (You can’t say that about some of Gotlib’s 70s stuff, which was a bit… much… But hilarious.)
This is also very funny, and taking on an Alice in Wonderland/Barbarella mish-mash probably sounded irresistable, but putting lunacy on top of lunacy sometimes makes for headache-induce reading.
You gotta love Gotlib’s artwork, though.
18:36: Siberian Haiku by Jurga Ville & Lina Itagaki (Selfmadehero)
This gets up to a bumpy start… first there’s an introduction (which states the premise), and then there’s a framing story (that restates the premise) and then we start the story… told from the point of view of an imaginative child. I’m assuming croissants don’t really grow on trees in Lithuania, and that Martin the Goose didn’t really stash a book under his wing.
This is as far as I got: I found this book to be excruciating. It tries so hard to fit into the Cutesy Despite Horrible Circumstances genre… and it does! It totally achieves its goals.
19:28: Goblin Girl by Moa Romanova (Fantagraphics)
I opened this and I was all “uh oh, this looks like such a lot of comics these days”…
But it’s kinda brilliant! Very fresh, very open, kinda moving.
I should probably have bought it in Swedish, though, but I didn’t realise that it was a Swedish book when I got this…
19:59: Les vieux forneaux 4: La Magicienne by Lupano & Caucet (Zoom)
I think the title of this series translates to something like “The Old Codgers”? Or something? I don’t know from French.
Anyway, this is my favourite current French-ish series. I know it looks like a somewhat standards Franco/Belgian series, and it is that, too, but it’s got the melancholy atmosphere of a good French indie movie. It’s just super charming, and you never know what’s going to happen (and usually nothing really big happens, anyway).
There’s also these fun storytelling bits they use sparingly. Here’s that woman imagining a scene, and then the scene as it really happened.
It’s very densely told, and there’s so many characters that I found myself flipping back to confirm who was talking about whom here and there. You’d think that would be a huge negative… but it’s not. It’s just got such a ruminative oddball, slightly slippery storytelling style … It’s hypnotic.
And I laughed out loud several times.
20:52: War Time and Play Time by Lac Leplae
This is a fascinating book.
It’s autobio from Leplae’s childhood, and I was taking all the stories at face value… but some of them are very… dreamlike… I mean, this was during the German occupation of Belgium, and the Americans did bomb Belgium, but it’s…
I mean, that doesn’t make the book any less fascinating.
21:56: Food arrives.
As is traditional on these dazy dazes, I’m ordering some food in instead of making anything myself, because THERE”S NO TIME; JUST COMICS ALL DAY.
Hey… that’s too much salmon. I shouldn’t have gotten a menu.
22:05: Le vol del corbeau tome 2 by Gibrat (Carlsen)
This is the second and final part of something I read part one of more than a year ago, so I just vaguely remember what it’s about…
It’s a quite simple wartime storyline: A thief meets a communist resistance fighter and romance ensues. Most of this album is spent hiding from the Nazis.
It’s fine. The main attraction here is the romantic/realist artwork, of course. It’s very pretty — I like these interiors and exteriors a lot. Gibrat’s main problem is that all of his male characters look very similar.
22:58: Non Eight edited by Eric Reynolds (Fantagraphics)
Non has been very consistent lately (except in its release schedule)… Is this issue gonna be great, too?
Yes! (Sami Alwani.)
This may be the best issue yet! (E. S. Glenn.)
There’s not a single bad piece in here. (Veronika Muchictsch.)
I could snap pics of all the stories in here, because it’s all good. (Maggie Umber.)
It’s a great mix of stories; all different, but still a cohesive reading experience.
23:53: 750cc Down Lincoln Highway by Bernard Chambaz & Barroux (NBM)
This is something as unusual as a straight-up travelogue. OK, the protagonist got dumped, but the book isn’t overtly about that much; instead it’s just driving across the US (on a motorcycle).
It’s a lovely melancholic read… until you remember that the lovely artwork isn’t by the guy who wrote this, which means that (probably?) the guy who wrote this had his camera out the entire trip to document it, which destroys the melancholy of it all.
So forget that thought! This isn’t autobio, after all.
It’s really good. And how can NBM publish this so cheaply?
00:28: Green Manor 1 by Bodart & Vehlmann (Zoom)
This album is a collection of short stories about murder.
The stories are… fun?… I guess? The artwork is classic — very varied figures and heads and faces, although Bodart reuses the same faces in different stories, making me wonder whether there’s some connection between them, but there isn’t.
What kills the enjoyment here for me is the colouring. It’s relentless: Everything is a yucky melange of beige, brown and brownish green. (And sometimes brownish purples.) It’s very evocative of a period; we all know that they didn’t have any other colours in Victorian England, right? RIGHT?
Anyway, reading more of two of these shorts in a row is probably not to be recommended: You’ll have to spray glitter in your eyes to recover.
(NOTE: NOT ACTUAL MEDICAL ADVICE.)
And I think it’s time for me to go to bed now.
But that was a pretty good batch of comics, eh? The standouts were Procedural, Goblin Girl and Non 8, I guess, but only one real clunker, I think?