Comics Daze

I need a vacation. But instead here’s another day of reading comics.

Various: Cold Wave Volume 2

15:29: The Fang 2: Weekend at Medusa’s by Marc Palm

I really like the format of this book. It’s so small and cute.

I haven’t read the first volume of this, so some of the goings-on was kinda obscure to me, but it’s pretty fun anyway. The storytelling gets choppy now and then, and the… er… “politics”… are pretty muddled.

Art Ensemble of Chicago: Les Stances a Sophie

15:48: Represented Immobilized by Rick Trembles (Conundrum Press)

There’s only 16 strips in here, so Conundrum cleverly pads out the book by keeping the verso blank. I love it.

Trembles’ strips are quite interesting in that Canadian autobio way…

And then we get some panel-a-day things he did for a month back in 2015.

It’s fine.

Art Ensemble of Chicago: Les Stances a Sophie

16:14: Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 by David Petersen (Villard)

I’ve read a few Mouse Guard bits and bobs here and there, but has never read an actual book of the stuff before.

I found the bits I’d read were pleasantly confusing — and I thought it was because I’d read them without context. But this is apparently the first book, and reading scenes in context is still pretty bewildering, but less pleasant.

“Axe”? The storytelling is just very choppy. On a scene-to-scene, panel-to-panel basis it’s just difficult to say what’s going on. I like that we don’t get infodumps, but this is rough sledding.

And when things become clearer by the end, it turns out that what’s happening isn’t that interesting anyway.

So I guess I won’t be getting more of these.

Various: Kid606 and Friends Vol. 1

16:41: Mr Barelli à Nusa Penida – tome 1 & 2 by Bob de Moor (E-voke)

There’s been a oldee-tymey Frenchey translation renaissance in Denmark the last few years — they’re getting a ton of older French (and Belgian) comics translated and reprinted. I’m assuming this is because it’s really cheap doing that these days?

One of the newer companies is E-voke, which is such an odd name that I had to google it. It turns out that they’d wanted to name the company “Evoke”, but it was taken, so they went with “E-voke”, since… so much of comics publishing happens using computers.

That’s some kind of logic.

Anyway, they specialise in second banana comics (presumably because most of the prime stuff is taken by the established publishers), so I finally get to read stuff like Barelli, which had only been sporadically translated back in the day (and running in various anthologies, seldom as separate albums). So these probably aren’t going to be… like… “good”… but I’m a sucker for this stuff anyway. So: Thank you very much, E-voke. You’re doing great work.

(I’m flabbergasted that there’s a big enough Danish-reading audience to support this endeavour.)

The E-voke books are pretty “no frills” — no contextualisation or anything, which is fine by me. But this one seems pretty sloppy: the colouring changes between the first few pages and the rest?

As you may have guessed from looking at these pages, Bob de Moor worked as Hergés assistant for decades. I think this book was serialised in the Tintin weekly magazine in the 50s? I’m guessing, because, well, there’s no info about such details here.

And man, this is so dense! It’s got the storytelling rhythms of a daily strip — every three panels has a gag of some kind going, and the first panel on the next row seems to set the stage again. There’s a lot of slapstick and action, and virtually no characterisation: Barelli is as much of a non-entity at the end (of this brief 30 page album) as at the start.

But it’s quite amusing.

Laura Jean: Our Swan Song

The second album is even more jam-packed with plot.

Ida: I Know About You

18:03: Drawing Power: Women’s Stories of Sexual Violence, Harassment, and Survival edited by Diane Noomin (Abrams Comicarts)

Diane Noomin! She’s edited some great anthologies before (Twisted Sisters, and possibly the best underground comic ever, etc), but it’s been a while, I think?

And this is great! (Names of individual cartoonists on the pages. Enclicken to embiggen.)

Huge anthologies like this (especially one that’s themed) usually collapse under their own weights, feeling like random collections of whatever the editor received.

This anthology feels so considered — there’s not a single bad piece in here, and in particular, not a single of those bête noires that riddles themed anthologies: Contributions from famous non-comics people, illustrated by some illustrator.

John Martyn: One World (1)

No, everything here’s top notch, interesting pieces from younger people I haven’t heard of before, as well as more familiar faces that are a thrill to encounter again. Like Ariel Schrag! What’s she doing now? Oh! She had a new book out in 2018. *buy*

OK, not all the pieces are as … weighty … as the rest, but it’s all good.

The mix of approaches is really refreshing. There’s also contributions from all over the world, and there’s short pieces and longer pieces, and it just reads really well.

Noomin’s done it again.

Shirley Collins: The Power Of The True Love Knot

20:09: Jonathan 15: Atsuko by Cosey (Fabel)

I’m so happy Cosey picked up the Jonathan thing again after a long hiatus — it had kinda run its course, but the new iteration is as poetic as the early, classic albums were. (And very pretty.)

Perhaps the plot in this one is tied up a bit too neatly, but you can’t argue with the elegiac melancholy Cosey serves up. It’s kinda perfect.

Electrelane: The Power Out

20:38: Tabte somre by Egesborg/Töws (Fahrenheit)

I thought this was going to be one of those ordinary couldn’t-get-the-movie-produced-so-we-got-an-illustrator-to-do-the-script books.

But it’s so much worse! It’s ostensibly about a Nazi plot til kill Einstein (!), but the entirety of the book is two non-entities sitting in a car discussing whether it’s best to be surprised in life or not. I’m not joking: They drive home these “philosophical” twitterings mainly by discussing whether it’s best to cook French Fries consistently or not.

And now I’ve made the book sound really interesting! Sorry! It’s horrible.

Electrelane: The Power Out

20:55: Flaming Carrot Comics #18-20 by Bob Burden (Dark Horse)

Oh yeah, I bought these comics when doing the Renegade Comics project, but I forgot to read them.

Hey! A Cerebus cameo.

I know that Flaming Carrot has rabid fans, but somehow I just don’t think it’s very funny. There, I said it. Let the pilloring begin. The pile-up of non sequiturs and nonsense feels like it should be hilarious, but it just isn’t. To me. Instead it’s vaguely amusing.

Kitchens of Distinction: Cowboys And Aliens

21:42: Roparen by Jakob Nilsson (Kartago)

A Swedish comic!

Wow! This isn’t what I expected at all — it looks like a pastiche of French 70s comics.

Something about these pages make me think of Tardi, but not the line. The pacing and angles and figures? Or perhaps Wininger… but with a cleaner line. It’s really attractive, especially with that muted earthy colour palette, with only her red coat as a clear hue. The only problem is that many of the characters (and there’s a lot of them) look really similar.

Anyway, this is a proper mystery. It’s got a proper mood going, and it’s a pleasure to read. It could perhaps have been shortened a bit? It feels like it’s spinning its wheels a bit at points. But it’s very impressive.

Soft Cell: The Twelve Inch Singles

22:58: Malgré tout by Jordi Lafebre (Fahrenheit)

Ooo. This book starts with chapter 20, and then it works itself, chapter by chapter, back to the start of the story. It’s so much fun — a chapter will mention something that’s happened, and then the next chapter (in the past) will expand on that, and that way we go back through the history of these two people.

It works brilliantly. And it’s the most romantic, sentimental, wistful story I’ve read in quite a while — the French do this sort of thing so well, don’t they? (And it’s funny, too, and the pages are relentlessly gorgeous.)

The final chapter (i.e., chapter 1) is even told backwards on a panel-by-panel basis, and the very final panel is a three hanky one. And it seems to invite the reader to read the book again, but this time in the opposite direction.


Simple Minds: Sister Feelings Call

00:08: Spirou ou l’espoir malgré tout: “Un départ vers la fin” by Émile Bravo (Cobolt)

This is Bravo’s fourth Spirou album, and it’s part of a long sequence dealing with WWII. And I don’t remember the previous albums being this grim: We start on a train that’s carrying Jews to Poland (to go to an extermination camp).

So the question is whether it makes sense to do this story as a Spirou story — is this a trivialisation of the atrocities that were going on? And… I didn’t think so at the start of Bravo’s run, but it’s getting pretty hard to reconcile Fantasio’s antics with the depressing milieu.

Bravo’s also getting a lot denser: It feels like this album is collapsing under its own weight.

Meat Beat Manifesto: Satyricon

01:46: Nighty

I think it’s time to go to bed.

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