Comics Daze

I hadn’t planned at all on spending another day in a comics daze now, but I got, like, 20 kilos of comics in the mail this week. I’d forgotten that I’d put in orders with Glacier Bay, Uncivilized, and some Canadian art comics shop.

What a shame! Now I have to read comics again.

Moor Mother: Jazz Codes

14:35: Crickets #7 by Sammy Harkham (Secret Headquarters)

And the reason for the Canadian excursion is this — it was sold out in most shops approximately two seconds after it went on sale? Did Harkham want to keep the release on the down low, so he printed 100 copies or something?

Was there some Twitter drama about Harkham and… er… a movie theatre or something? The page to the left there seems to be obliquely commenting on something, but I don’t really know what.

Anyway, I don’t remember what’s going on in this serial at all, or who all these people are. But, I mean, that’s what happens when there’s half a decade between chapters, and that’s fine.

I was rather annoyed after the time jump with the non-specificity of the environment. Confusion and vagueness can be a powerful storytelling device, drawing the reader in by having to pay more attention, but honestly — here it didn’t feel like Harkham was doing it on purpose. The artwork from the “present day” was just really unspecific: Very few clues to what year it is, or where on Earth it takes place, or even whether this character in this panel is the same as this character in this other panel.

That is, I think the artwork’s a bit lazy and generic.

Everything becomes clear by the end of the issue (because Harkham resorts to having the characters infodump at each other), so it might well be an actual artistic choice. Perhaps it’ll read better when collected.

Joan as Police Woman, Tony Allen, Dave Okumu: The Solution is Restless

15:25: Red Riding Hood’s Wolf Apprentice by Sayaka Mogi (Glacier Bay Books)

Glacier Bay usually publishes Japanese art comics, but this reads pretty much like any Japanese comic for teenagers?

The artwork’s nice, but I found the storytelling to be rather tedious, brief as it is.

15:48: Gullivera by Milo Manara (Humanoids)

As usual with Humanoids, there’s no information about when this was originally made, but googling seems to show that it’s from 1996? Anyway, finding some pages to snap here is difficult — I mean, this is a family oriented blog, after all.

It’s a goof off of Gulliver’s Travels, of course, but it feels oddly under-developed; as if Manara’s heart wasn’t really in it. Each of the porny tableaux don’t really go anywhere, as if Manara is just sketching the outlines of a book without actually making it.

Even for a Manara porn book, this is pretty slight, is what I’m saying.

But his artwork’s as pretty as always.

Moby: Reprise: Remixes

16:07: Roaming Foliage by Patrick Kyle (Koyama Press)

I really like Patrick Kyle’s comics, but this one didn’t quite connect for me.

I mean, I like the artwork and the playfulness and the associative logic, but it has my least favourite structuring device: A quest. It feels very video game influenced?

So it’s not my thing.

16:41: Musnet 2-4 by Kickliy (Uncivilized)

I read the first volume of this years ago, but then I forgot to buy the rest.

Yes, these are comics for children, and they’re sweet and odd, and the stories don’t quite go where you’d expect them to go.

This sort of restrained colour palette is very in right now, but I think it works well here.

I think if I were a child, I would have been kinda obsessed with this series — it’s witty and kind of obliquely daring in many ways — it’s funny and moving, and has a very strong narrative arc.

Soft Cell: Happiness Not Included

17:47: Dear Sara by Ohuton (Glacier Bay Books)

Another nice little Glacier Bay book — this one has a rice paper dust cover. (I think.)

This story is sweet and all, but it’s also pretty clichéd.

And the artwork doesn’t really do much for me.

17:57: Meet Me in the Unkempt Garden by Soejima Asuka (Glacier Bay Books)

I really like this. It’s got an attractive stillness to it.

It’s a melancholy and moving.

Sugarcubes: It’s-It

18:06: Stonebreaker by Peter Wartman (Uncivilized)

Hm… The artwork is very accomplished, but it’s really generic? It’s like a distilled version of the serious-but-for-kids comics style? Even the hairstyles look like what you’d find anywhere.

*ding dong* pizza time. No time to make food when reading comics, so I got another pizza from the new pizza place down the block, and…

I like pizza bianca in general, but this was very one note. It’s got one flavour: A very rich mushroomey cheesey salsiccia. It’s nice on the first bite, but I was over that after eating three mouthfuls.

Oh well.

I don’t know — I’m just a bit irrationally annoyed by this book. Even the storytelling beats, like the incessant pauses after saying something (third panel here) feel like they’re inveighing every moment with Importance. It’s probably just me, though: The talent and professionalism comes off to me as being trite instead?

Even the fun stuff, as colour-coding the various time periods/milieus just gets risible when bunched together this way.

OK, this book isn’t for me — it’s squarely aimed at children, so I’ll stop kvetching now.

*time passes*

The last half of the book, which gets to more interesting world building stuff (and lots of action) is pretty exciting.

Sugarcubes: It’s-It

19:16: 978-91-87325-43-3 by Mushbuh (Peow)

Oh, I love this. It’s funny, inventive and has a really distinctive point of view.

Even as it varies its approach, it’s all forms a whole.


Anyway, this is a brilliant little book. I laughed, I felt existential dread — what more can you ask for?

Ingebrigt Håker Flaten: (Exit) Knarr

19:32: Gay Giant by Gabriel Ebensperger (Street Noise)

This is by a Chilean artist, which is pretty unusual.

It’s done in a kind of breezy clipboard art style — it looks kinda optimised for the web? Which isn’t really my favourite kind of thing, but this is a really sweet, and quite amusing book.

And there’s Laurie Anderson, so how can you not love it?

Thee Oh Sees: Help

20:12: Ultrasound by Conor Stechschulte (Fantagraphics)

Ooh! New book from Stechschulte! That’s an event.

Stechschulte uses so many innovative storytelling techniques that reading this is a thrilling experience.

Merzbow & Lawrence English: Eternal Stalker

There are many pages that are straightforward like this…

… but then he keeps dropping in these stunning pages that makes you go “whoa”; stepping back; figuring it out, and continuing. It shouldn’t work, but it’s just amazing and fun.

And look at that water-damaged page!

That said… I’m just not taken with the actual plot? Many people write comics as if it’s a storyboard for an indie movie: This is definitely not that in any way (even if he did make a movie out of the material).

Instead it’s like a storyboard for a New Era of Quality TV series.

I know what I just wrote comes under the rubric of “hate speech”, but as one twist after another kept on coming, I was reminded of all those TV series from the last decade which are all like this, where you pull the rug out from the viewer (and the characters) all the time. After I sussed that this was basically what this is (halfway through?) I started expecting the plot developments and then they happened one after another, and I just got annoyed.

Sorry! Stechschulte started this book a decade ago, and perhaps these twists hadn’t been used all that much back then, but reading it now, it felt pretty hollow.

But man, the storytelling and the cartooning: Wonderful.

Hercules & Love Affair: Omnion: The Album

22:08: Our Colors by Gengoroh Tagame (Pantheon)

I wasn’t very impressed with his previous book, My Brother’s Husband (it read like an after school special), but the artwork was nice, so here’s the new book.

Uhm… this looks like it was meant to be reproduced a lot smaller? In normal Japanese tankōbon paperback? There’s so much emptiness on these pages. And this is on very white, thin paper, so there’s a lot of bleedthrough. It’s just… kinda… unattractive?

Yeah, looks like it was originally published in three normal paperback volumes. Did Pantheon decide to publish in this format so the book would sit better next to the other books they’ve published by Gengoroh Tagame? (Or was that Fantagraphics?)

Anyway… annoying…

This is a very brisk read, and is really aimed at teenagers, which is why it makes no sense to use this format.

It’s sweet enough, but it’s also kinda boring?

Richard and Linda Thompson: Hard Luck Stories (2): I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight

23:11: Sleepy Child And… by Shinnosuke Schnell (Glacier Bay Books)

This is a very odd book. I mean, it’s so brief it’s hardly there.

But it’s kinda perfect that way? It’s a gust of wind and then it’s over.

A Certain Ratio: ACR:EPC

23:20: Schappi by Anna Haifisch (Fantagraphics)

Fantagraphics have stepped up the past few years and are publishing a lot of interesting stuff now. (Well, they always have, but the schedule (say) ten years ago wasn’t as impressive, I seem to remember?)

This is a collection of short pieces, and I think I’ve at least read half of them before?

It’s great! I love Haifisch’s sardonic sense of humour and the sense of melancholy in these stories. And the perfect artwork, of course.

Jandek: Chair Beside a Window

23:39: Chui Gai by John Grund

The storytelling here is very accomplished — it’s got great flow.

And the format seems to be just right for the story.

23:47: Maudit, sois-tu tome 1: Zaroff by Pelaez & Puerta (E-Voke)

This is very dark. I mean, lots of ink.

The storytelling is really choppy, and the story makes 0% sense.

The artwork is… fascinating? Many artists use photo reference for their figures, often snapping pics of their friends acting out things, and then drawing from that. This artist, on the other hand, looks like he’s just taken screenshots from TV and movies, and then drawn on top of that. So the faces of the characters change from panel to panel, and I was going “oh, that’s that actor! And now she’s that actor! And now…” all the time while reading this.

Bizarre way to do a comic book.

Even the backgrounds look traced from screenshots.

And then he grows tired of doing even that, and just drops the actual screenshots into the strip.

John Zorn: A Garden of Forking Paths

00:30: The Mermaid and the Prince by Tada Yumi (Glacier Bay Books)

I think this is the last of the Glacier Bay books, and again it’s a very small book. This time, though, the brevity works against the material.

Nice pin-up section, though.

I think it’s time to go to bed soon, but just one more.

00:35: Mickey Mouse: Zombie Coffee by Régis Loisel (Fantagraphics)

Loisel doesn’t really draw like Gottfredson, but he gets many things about Gottfredson’s stories pitch perfect right, so parts of this is a joy to read.

But the storytelling is really, really choppy. It feels like he’s going over the same plot points too many times. The story isn’t that complicated — it’s a classic Gottfredson Mouse vs. Capitalist Scum story — but it feels like it’s been padded out to twice the length it should be.

The artwork’s and the colouring is really pretty, though.

Bailey, Tacuma, Weston: Mirakle

01:11: The End

It’s dark and rainy outside, and I really should go to bed before the birds wake up. (There’s a seagull nesting on the house next door.)

Today’s comics were a… mixed bag. I was pretty disappointed by a couple of books I was looking forward to read, but there were some positive surprises, too.

One thought on “Comics Daze”

  1. So, I think the story is this. Sammy Harkham (or members of his family?) were (part?) owners of this amazing movie theater in L.A. called Cinefamily. I used to go there when I was doing business in L.A.

    Unfortunately, behind the scenes, there was some nasty Me Too stuff going on and the theater basically had to shut down. I don’t believe Sammy was directly involved.

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