Comics Daze

Geez. I awokeneth in the middle of the night. So perhaps this is a good day to do nothing but read comics all day? Perhaps with a nap in the middle?

Possibly? Let’s find out.

And today’s music will be… er… Oh yeah. Music from Crammed Discs (and associated stuff like Crepuscule). 80s. Calmness.

Aksak Maboul: Onze danses pour combattre la migraine

04:34: Book of Daze by E. A. Bethea (Domino Books)

What a perfect comic to start the daze with!

Over the last year or so, I’ve been slacking off in my comics buying. I mean, I’ve been buying a lot, but basically mostly just new comics distributed via Diamond. Because I use the previews catalogue to find out what’s new. I’m lazy, and I don’t really follow any comics news much, so I don’t really discover stuff otherwise. (Is there even any way to get news about what’s being published outside normal channels except to hang out compulsively on Comics Instagram (I assume such a thing exists)?) But I’ve decided to make a bit more shopping effort, so the last month I’ve been getting more stuff from other sources…

Bethea’s Francis Bacon book was fantastic, and this collection of shorter pieces demonstrates that Bethea is consistently awesome.

Hey! Larkin! I read a book of his the other month…

Anyway, this is a lovely book. It’s got a real mood going on.

Tuxedomoon: Half-Mute-Scream With A View

05:29: Wopozi

Bethea included this when I bought the Book of Days from the web shop.

I’m not quite sure what this is — perhaps it’s published in conjunction with an art show or something? Each artist gets two pages (Katelyn Farstad above), and Bethea’s two pages are the only pages of comics here.

It’s good. Lots of interesting stuff. (Monika Sziladi.)

Tuxedomoon: Half-Mute-Scream With A View

05:47: Fantasio se marie by Banoît Feroumont (Egmont)

That was a lot of art for this early in the morning, so I think it’s time for some comics for children.

This is yet another one of those Spirou Specials — I think there’s been about a couple dozen of these now? I.e., Spirou albums that are “off model”, and not part of the er continuity. But it’s not like Spirou had that much continuity anyway. And when was the last regular Spirou album, anyway? A couple decades ago?

And this is really very off model — it’s got magic, and Spirou has a mother, and his grandfather was a Nazi collaborator…

But it’s a lot of fun. The plot is intricate and amusing, and while it gets to be pretty absurd toward the end, it’s a pretty successful book.

I do wonder whether they’re totally confusing the readers, though. All these strange Spirou iterations have to dilute the idea of Spirou in the readers’ minds?

Aksak Maboul: Un Peu De L’Ame Des Bandits

06:21: Elephant/The Projector by Martin Vaughn-James (New York Review Comics)

That cover totally looks like it’s a Seth cover. Is it? (It is.) Perhaps it sells books, but isn’t it a bit stultifying having a book by one artist looking this much like a book by a different artist?

This is what it’s supposed to look like:

Much cooler.

Ooo trippy.

This is fun — it’s very, very 70s. Reminds me quite a bit of Soft City by Pushwagner.

The Projector seems more influenced by underground comics, and isn’t as interesting as the more pop art Elephant, I think. It’s still quite intriguing, though.

There’s annoying texts by both Jeet Heer and Seth (the latter is way more annoying), but annoyingest of all is that they don’t seem to actually say when these were originally published? (I only skimmed the texts.) So here: Elephant (1970), The Projector (1971).

06:48: The Secret Voice #1 by Zack Soto (Adhouse Books)

I was browsing Bubbleszine and I came across this thread about comics sales, so I went over to Adhouse Books and bought everything of theirs that I didn’t have already.

This is one of those one person anthologies that used to be a mainstay of American indie comics.

It’s pretty good. The genre mixture is odd — it’s got some fantasy/video game stories, and some more metaphorical bits… but it works?

07:01: Nap time

I’m falling asleep here on the couch.

Tuxedomoon: Desire

10:35: I’m Awake!

Sort of. That was the worst nap ever — they started sawing granite slats in the back yard and I’ve just been dozing fitfully. I’m tireder now than when I started napping.

Richard Horowitz: Eros in Arabia

10:48: Pleading With Stars by Kurt Ankeny (Adhouse Books)

I really enjoy Ankeny’s colours and pacing. He’s really talented.

However, he seems to over-reach when it comes to subject matter, and it feels like he’s going for plots and emotions that seem un-earned. It’s the opposite of “write what you know”; it’s more like “write like you know some really good books”.

But that page about giving a talk at Parsons made me smile.

Minimal Compact: Minimal Compact

11:44: Akissi: Tales of Mischief by Abouet & Sapin (Flying Eye Books)

Oh yeah, I read those Aya books, so I got the Akissi books, too. Were these also published in a different format before? I feel like I’ve read some Akissi, but perhaps I’m just getting it confused with Aya.

Oh yeah, I definitely have read this before. So I’ve re-bought this book, I think. If only I had started live-blogging comics reading before, then I could just google what I have. You know that’s the only practical way of knowing what comics you have, right? Right.

Anyway, I remember now that these stories are a 180 from Aya — Aya was one long, long involved soap opera. These are all six page vignettes, and reading 170 pages of them is a bit exhausting. Were they originally serialised in some magazine? The six page format was probably more successful then, because they pack a lot of action into each little story.

*ding dong* It’s the mailman, and he’s got comics from Denmark! That’s gotta be the most I’ve bought in one go…

Oh, yeah — I read that Les Cités Obscures comic the other week, and in the extras, the author was talking about how dangerous it is to rework comics (before going on to explain that they’d reworked that album anyway). But as an example, he used L’Île noire, and said that the 1943 version (the second version) was magical and amazing, while the 1966 (third) version sucked. And I realised that I’d only read these 60s versions of Tintin, and I should fix that.

The Danes have gone hog wild with different Tintin editions. If I counted correctly, they have 1) the “standard” edition (i.e., 60s redrawn), 2) the “facsimile” edition (this one; first colour version), 3) the “fundamentalist” version (black and white; most albums are twice as long), 4) over-large edition of 2), and 5) mini edition.

I think that’s all.

The Danes sure like Tintin.

This looks very nice? But I’m not reading Tintin now, I’m reading Akissi.

The Honeymoon Killers: Les tueurs de la lune de miel

I’ve always thought that that hairstyle looks really painful.

Anyway, Akissi is really sweet, amusing and well-told. I only wish there was some variation in story length, because all these tiny vignettes (even as good as they are) is a bit wearying.

Hermine: The World On My Plates

12:58: Š! #44 (Kuš)

This issue is “back to nature”, and it’s got more non narrative pieces than usual?

Some are really lovely.

But, like, I don’t think this is the strongest issue… many of the contributors go all didactic and stern. The above is a rare exception.

Blaine L. Reininger: Broken Fingers (vinyl)

13:14: White Clay by Thomas Herpich (Adhouse Books)

This is a number of short, mysterious vignettes.

It’s good — well-told and surprising little things.

Blaine L. Reininger & Alain Goutier: Paris en Autumne

13:24: Marie Antoinette by Rodolphe & Annie Goetzinger (NBM)

I think I’ve got some kind of Internet shopping aphasia — I see a comic book on the screen and my brain goes “I have no recollection of ever having seen this book before”, and then I get the book, and my brain goes “why did you buy this? you’ve definitely already bought this before”.

Hm… but perhaps not? The story seems vaguely familiar, but it’s not really that much of a story anyway.

The attraction here is Goetzinger’s elegant artwork — it’s got an attractive stiffness and formality to it, like a livelier version of fashion illustration.

13:55: B+F by Gregory Benton (Adhouse Books)

Uhm… it’s one of those days — everything seems oddly familiar.

This is a huge book, and from the design, I assumed that it was a book for children — but it’s not; it’s super violent.

Like many of these Adhouse Books (I’m now discovering), it seems vaguely “spiritual”? Is Adhouse run by a religionist or something?

The artwork’s fine, and the storytelling is good, but it doesn’t really grab me as a story. Is Benton into video games?

Benjamin Lew & Steven Brown: Douzieme Journee: Le Verbe, La Parure, L’Amour

14:04: Kisses for Jet by Joris Bas Backer (Nobrow)

This is a pretty original book — I mean, structure, wise. It doesn’t have the three act structure that apparently all editors are insisting on, and instead it slinks and snakes its way to the end. It’s a very appealing reading experience.

But on a panel by panel basis, the storytelling is really choppy.

Zazou, Bikaye & Cy1: Noir et Blanc (vinyl)

14:45: John, Dear by Laura Lannes (Retrofit)

This one I have read before, but I didn’t discover that until after I bought this copy, so I might as well read it again?

It’s a very dark book. I mean, lots of ink.

And re-reading it, it’s even better than the first time. It’s absolutely fabulous.

Whatever happened to Retrofit, anyway? I’d almost forgotten all about them… they published so much good stuff. I guess they shut down in 2018? No, there’s a couple more published in 2019?

Zazou, Bikaye & Cy1: Noir et Blanc (vinyl)

14:57: Apple Crush by Lucy Knisley (Random House)

I think I remember Knisley’s books being quite cute? But this looks like a book for children, which didn’t er register when I ordered this…

It’s… it’s… it’s delightful? I started smiling on the first page and I kept smiling until the book was over.

Knisley’s artwork is cute, but not schematic, and the story flows nicely, hitting emotional beats, but (again) not in a way that hits you over the head with it. It’s gentle and funny and it feels like reading a proper story without it having to be all epic and stuff.

I’m getting the previous book, Stepping Stones.

Steven Brown: Zoo Story

15:41: Talk Dirty To Me by Luke Howard (Adhouse Books)

This starts off pretty amusing…

… but it soon turns out all squicky. It’s a comic written by a man about a woman seemingly without any qualities, except that she thinks about sex a lot, so we get her sexual history from childhood on, and… it’s… eww? Like I said up there about another book, it feels unearned and fake.

But the last half is better, even if the denouement is that she stops the phone sex job and becomes a happier person.

Steven Brown: Zoo Story

16:05: Wasteland #7 (DC Comics)

The Adhouse people included this in my package… this is a pre-Vertigo DC book, I guess?

I have absolutely no idea what’s going on in the first bit (which is apparently the conclusion of a serial).

I wish I didn’t understand what’s happening in the second bit.

The third bit has Don Simpson artwork, and it pretty sophomoric.

So it’s a pretty good DC comic, I guess? I mean, grading on a scale.

Band Apart: Marseille

16:20: Le loup by Rochette (Fahrenheit)

The artwork here seems very photo-referential, but it’s quite engaging anyhow.

It’s a Moby-Dick kind of story — man goes after some great beast (in this case, a wolf) and mysterious things (and an epiphany) happens. It’s very French.

Various: It’s a Crammed, Crammed, Crammed, Crammed World!

16:49: World War 3 Illustrated #42

Ah, yes, the hopeful days of 2011…

So this is all about the Arabic Spring (and Wisconsin), and we get a bunch of contributors we haven’t seen before.

Oh, wow — Mazen Kerbaj? Cool.

But then food arrives (because I don’t have time to cook when reading comics. GOTTA READ COMICS).

Minimal Compact + Benjamin Lew + Aksak Maboul + Tuxedomoon: Made to Measure

17:17: Nofret: Slave i Levanten by Sussi Bech (Eudor)

But I can’t read WW3 while eating, so I’m switching to Nofret.

I’ve been reading this serial since I was a teenager. At the time, it was basically the only Scandinavian series with the scope of a French(ey) series — drawn in a Belgian(ey) kind of style, but with deep knowledge and interest in ancient times in Egypt (and surrounds). And at the start, it was published at the reasonable clip of one album per year.

But then slower and slower, and the thirteenth and final album wasn’t published until this year.

This is a prequel, giving Nofret’s “origin story”. Which doesn’t really seem that necessary, since she’s a quite well-rounded character anyway.

This is, as usual, a rollicking adventure. One of the main attractions of the book back in the day was all the historical titbits Bech dropped into the storyline (she met all the big players), but there isn’t that much of that here. But I guess there’s really no space.

And then back to WW3. It’s not the strongest issue ever or anything, but there’s some pieces in here that are really strong (like the Kerbaj two-parter).

Hector Zazou: Geographies

18:13: Yoko Tsuno 30: Les gémeaux de Saturne by Roger Leloup (Cobolt)

I don’t know why I keep buying these — I was never a Yoko Tsuno fan as a child, and I haven’t become one later, either. But here we are.

Everybody basically has the same personality (and they bicker incessantly — I think it’s supposed to be witty repartee, but it’s… not), and they have pretty much identical faces. (With some hairdo and colour variations.) The artwork’s regressed a lot since the early days…

But the space ships are cool.

This album has a rating of 0.5 (out of 5) on Bedetheque (but only two votes).

Blaine L. Reininger: Night Air

18:43: The End

Now it’s time to go to bed. I’m totally zonked.

But I got to read some pretty awesome comics (and some er not-so-awesome).

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