Comics Daze

I’ve been programming so much the past few days that I’m going to rest my fingers today and just read comics until I plotz.

Well, except when I’m typing away at this blog post. Oops!

And… Today I’m going to listen to nothing but David Bowie records. This was a thing I started doing decades ago on “Comics Day”: Just put on Bowie, eat candy and read comics. But the ritual sort of dissipated the last few years and today I wanna give it another go.

David Bowie: Space Oddity

16:05: Meskin and Umezo by Austin English (Domino Books)

English is one of the few people I follow on The Twitters, so I’ve been hearing a lot about this book over the years… (Which you can buy from Domino Books.)

Ooo cool.

I love the distracted storytelling. It’s kinda concrete and abstract at the same time? I mean, it’s a narrative book, but it’s not quite clear what it’s all about, and I love that.

Lovely artwork.

David Bowie: Hunky Dory

16:32: Year of the Rabbit by Tian Veasna (Drawn & Quarterly)

Oh, this is about Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge? By amazing coinkidink, I read The King’s Last Song by Geoff Ryman last week, so I’m now an Internet expert on all things Cambodia.

Well, first of all… it’s hard to be critical about a book dealing with a family’s journey through a genocide, but I’ll do my best!

The storytelling here is choppy.

We’re presented with a fair number of atrocities, so it feels pretty odd that something like this is emphasised — a father is punished for having beaten up his son. Because… er… that… shows how evil the Khmer Rouge is — they won’t even let you beat up your own kids?

The artwork is generic French Indie — it’s hard to tell anybody apart. And nobody has any personality at all, so it’s hard to remember who Vanny, Vithya and Vuthya were, or whether we’d even been introduced to any (or all) or them before.

And we don’t get even an inkling of what the reasoning behind all the torture and abuse is. In one way, it’s admirable that he’s focusing on just what the family knew and felt — the rest is immaterial; their experience is what matter. But coupled with none of the characters not having any character whatsoever, it’s the kind of storytelling that has my brain reflexively going “eh, perhaps the Khmer Rouge weren’t so bad after all?”

Which is wrong; they really were that bad! But this is a badly made comic, so that’s where parts of my brain went on a regular basis (before being slapped back into sensible shape by the rest of my brain) while reading this.

David Bowie: The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars

18:03: So Buttons #8-11 by Jonathan Baylis and others

I was sent these by the writer (thanks, Jonathan!) so here’s a non-affiliate link to the So Buttons web site.

So this is autobio of the anecdote type, with different artists illustrating. (Here Corinne Mucha.)

Hey! James Romberger again! The last Comics Daze was mostly Romberger stuff… (And T. J. Kirsch to the left.)

Baylis mostly keeps things light.

Ooo that sounds like a fabulous restaurant. (Nicole Miles on art.)

Anyway, this is thoroughly entertaining reading — lots of good artwork and amusing anecdotes.

David Bowie: Aladdin Sane

18:53: The Golden Ass by Milo Manara (Humanoids)

This came wrapped in plastic with a huge sticker saying UNCENSORED EDITION… and there’s a naked woman there… and a donkey… so I know what you’re thinking: Are we going to see a naked donkey, too!?

Pretty odd colouring scheme…

Anyway, there aren’t many pages I can do shots of here, because this is, after all, a family oriented blog.

I wonder whether Manara was thinking about Au Hazard Balthazar at all while making this — it is the only other famous thing that has a donkey as the protagonist. And I know that seems absurd, because that movie wasn’t about donkey sex (at all!), but there are structural similarities? That is, it’s one-thing-after-another instead of having more of a traditional narrative arc? Or perhaps I’m misremembering.

This is fun and all, but it does feel like Manara was mostly just going until he had a sufficient number of pages, and then he stopped.

David Bowie: Diamond Dogs

19:26: The True Story of the Unknown Solidier by Tardi (Fantagraphics)

I think I’ve read the material in this book before, but in other permutations. The last story was printed in Raw, I think?

Anyway, this is prime early Tardi. Look at those lines. Just look at them.

So amazing. The two stories collected here are both dream-like and horrific.

I hope Fantagraphics keeps their Tardi program going.

David Bowie: David Live (1)

19:56: Happy Hour in America #2 by Tim Lane (Fantagraphics)

Yowza. Tim Lane’s artwork just keeps getting better and better. This is insane.

Unfortunately, this is a very short book — and half of it’s about Steve McQueen. I mean, it’s fun, but.

The final little story in the book is fantastic — it reminds me of Charles Burns from around 1985. It’s just that unnerving and inexplicable, but still oozing meaning.

I hope Lane keeps on doing these comics, but it can’t exactly be… not haemorrhaging money. How many copies do indie comics like this sell these days? Tens and tens of copies?

David Bowie: David Live (2)

20:09: The Art of Sushi by Francke Alarcon (NBM)

These food comics published by NBM are a bit hit or miss, but a couple of them (like The Initiates) have been very good indeed. *crosses fingers*

Well, I like the artwork… it’s slightly generic Frenchey, but is pretty lively. And it’s a fun colouring technique.

And I got some takeaway. What a coincidence!

This is really good. The way it started out, I was afraid that it was going to be illustrated wikipedia excerpts with some hi-jinx inbetween. But it’s not! Yes, we get a lot of information, but Alarcon gives all the people they meet a lot of character, so we get different points of view, and interesting little asides and some jokes. I’m going like “hm, interesting” on every other page.

Poor octopus.

Huh. Do Japanese people really put rice into the fridge?


Anyway, it’s a good book, but it could have used some trimming towards the end.

David Bowie: Young Americans

22:06: Johan et Pirlouit – Le lutin du bois aux roches by Peyo (Faraos Cigarer)

This is a children’s series I haven’t heard of before (I think), by Peyo from 1955.

This starts off pretty well — it’s got classic Franco-Belgian artwork, as you’d expect from Peyo — and some pretty well-designed characters.

But… it just kinda doesn’t quite work? There’s a lot of running around, and to-and-fro-ing, but there’s very few actual jokes here, and there’s plot enough for about 20 pages. But worst of all is that the characters have very little character.

I know, I know — this is a series for children. But I’m really childish! And I don’t think I would have enjoyed this when I was ten, either.

So I can see why this was never translated back then. It’s not even a second banana series, I think?

Oh, it’s supposed to become better later?

Essential album since we are witnessing the appearance of Pirlouit (and Biquette!) in the series! An album placed therefore under the sign of humor, with a scenario that is moreover well imagined. A good album, even if obviously the duo Johan/Pirlouit is far from being formed and as complementary as in the albums which will follow.

Hm, perhaps I should give a later album in the series a go…

David Bowie: Station to Station

22:39: Marsupilami 28: Biba by Batem & Colman (Cobolt)

I really love Franquin’s Spirou series, but I never got into the spinoff Marsupilami series: it may have started when I was too old to read those kinds of comics? But I thought I’d give one a go, and this is from 2014, and since Franquin died in 1997, I guess that he wasn’t involved with this at all, despite having first billing on the cover.

This doesn’t start off all that promising.

But then it gets really entertaining. They’ve apparently introduced a cast of supporting characters (some scientists and some evil hunters), and the book putters along very nicely with lots of action, some funny bits and some “aww” bits.

We’re not talking genius or anything — it gets a bit repetitious: the characters even comment on that, but that doesn’t really help.

It’s certainly a whole lot better than I’d have guessed.

David Bowie: Low

23:03: Pyt by Morten Voigt & Kim Schou (Fahrenheit)

That cover looks very Michael Fiffe-ish, doesn’t it? Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

But the insides do definitely not look like Fiffe.

It’s a pretty interesting book — it’s somewhat too high concept, but they mostly pull it off. You see the twists coming, but the storytelling is kinda original and that makes up for the plot deficiencies.

David Bowie: “Heroes”

23:40: World War 3 Illustrated #4-5 edited by Seth Tobocman and others

These early issues have a breeziness to them, as it’s not quite clear what this magazine was going to be yet. Lots of experimentation.

Peter Kuper is doing some amazing stuff and working towards his later style.

A rock power trio called Holy War? Hm… difficult to google.

The artwork here is credited to James, so I guess it’s Romberger? It’s a mysterious piece.

There’s instructions on how to spray paint stencils onto walls, so I guess these are templates. Pretty striking. (Seth Tobocman.)

Paula Hewitt’s piece is pretty striking.

Heh heh.

Wow. This is James Romberger again…

Very cool.

Anyway, these issues are kinda thrilling to read.

David Bowie: Stage (1)

00:20: L’Angélus by Homs & Giroud (Cobolt)

This was made as part of Dupuis’ “Secrets” series, and it has all the hallmarks of a work made to fit to a concept. It reads like the script to a really stereotypically French movie, with fake drama in every scene — people don’t sit down and talk; they always either scream at each other of fall in love with each other.

It’s also got several of these montage scenes. And the artwork is dominated by these repulsive bobble-headed figures.

Really horrible book.

David Bowie: Lodger

01:10: The End

And now I should probably go to sleep, because I’m exhausted.

One thought on “Comics Daze”

  1. Thanks for being so kind. I figured you might appreciate the Romberger since you were talking about him in previous blogs. He’s a great NYC character, we get along well, and basically offered to do a strip if I asked. So I asked, haha! What am I, an idiot?!? I love that guy.

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