Comics Daze

I’ve been continuing to order comics from diverse sources, and this week a got a nice little package from Domino Books (once again; he gets a lot of new stuff in), and from Breakdown Press, who I’ve never ordered directly from before… but unpacking, I was most struck by the books from Glacier Bay Books.

Previously, I basically bought everything they’d published themselves (mostly translated Japanese comics), but this time around, I went spelunking around the rest of their offerings. And when I opened the package, it was like being back in my recurring dream where I’m in a store totally unknown to me, and then I find first one interesting comic, and then I find another, and then there’s all these comics that look awesome and I must have. Unpacking this box was like that, except that I didn’t wake up at the end.

It was just so striking looking all these books are once — many of them were really compelling as physical objects, and looking through a few of them, they looked really interesting art wise, too… and most of them were from people I hadn’t heard about before. It was like *gasp*

But then it turned out that I’ve been really busy and haven’t had time to read any comics — but every morning I’ve heard the siren call of the Window Sill Of Unread Comics and finally today, I’ve carved out a day for comics reading.

So here goes. I’m all aflutter.

Kid606: I Dance For Planned Parenthood DJ mix

09:33: Steamy Buns by Misaki Kawai (Nos Books)

Whaa… it’s got spiral bindings on both sides?

It opens into a triptych! So you basically open every other page to the left and to the right. Fun!

It’s a non narrative book (I think), but this format has potential for doing stuff narratively — instead of opening every other page in one direction, you can do one left/two right etc and get a different adventure.

Really well made (and very pretty). Printed in Taiwan.

09:48: Colorama Clubhouse 13

Another unusual binding technique — split pins.

So this was put together at a residency in Berlin? Trey hip.

It’s a collection of short narrative pieces (and riso printed).

It’s really cool — a wide variety of approaches, with some going for humour…

… and some not.

Ooo. Gorgeous.

Nice one.

10:06: Weird #2 by Mr. Freiberg

The cover here has stitching — somebody ran the cover through a sewing machine?

Truth in advertising — this is very weird.

It’s a collection of mostly one-page strips, but the themes are pretty consistent, so it doesn’t read choppy. It’s unnerving and fun at the same time.

Jockstrap: I Love You Jennifer B

10:24: Glaeolia 3 edited by Emuh Ruh and zhuchka (Glacier Bay Books)

This is an anthology of Japanese comics — it’s a good variety of story length: Some brief pieces, and some longer ones. (It’s an almost 400 page book.)

But… Some anthologies have a problem with consistent tone; that there’s just all sorts of work thrown in, which leads to the book having no identity at all. This is totally on the opposite side of the scale — all but a couple of the story are symbolic and/or absurd.

Some Japanese comics from children have a problem of overbearing editors insisting on consistency, and I wonder if this has the same problem? Editors going “this need more symbolism. MORE SYMBOLISM!!! Redraw this until there’s symbolism on every page!!!” While there’s a range of approaches taken to the artwork, every story is kept in the same tone, and is basically… the same story.

But I’m guessing that the editors for this collection just love this stuff, so this is what they picked.

I got so sleepy while reading this that I went and took a nap.

None of these pieces are bad, exactly, but the cumulative effect of so many similar stories is soporific. I think many of these pieces could have had an impact in a different context? But having them bunched up all together like this is a disservice to the work.

There’s two pieces that stood out:

Yokoyama Yuichi is great as always.

And the book ends with a simple slice-of-life diary comic, and it’s such a breath of fresh air after the over-stuffed symbolism of the other pieces.

So… not a good anthology.

Oliver Sim: Hideous Bastard

14:31: Night on Earth by Mississippi

This is great — it’s a collection of paintings? But narrative paintings.

Almost every painting has an entire story going on.

Very nice.

Playgroup: Previously Unreleased (1)

14:43: John’s Worth #1-4 by Jon Chandler (Breakdown Press)

These are four smallish comic books, and start off as a riff on eXistenZ, I think?

But then seems to grow even more mysterious.

I really enjoy the artwork here, and it works as a mystery — the storytelling’s quite good — but unfortunately, the fourth issue ends with “to be continued” and that didn’t happen? Too bad.

Playgroup: Previously Unreleased (1)

15:06: Escape to the Unfinished by Dash Shaw (Breakdown Press)

I guess this is a collection of unfinished things?

But it really works — the pieces seem to resonate with each other, and there are callbacks, so the book functions as a mysterious little object. Really good.

Playgroup: Previously Unreleased (1)

15:14: Insula volume 1 by Vincent Longhi (Fidèle Éditions)

This riso printed book started off somewhat abstract, but then quickly resolved itself as a post-apocalyptic sci fi thing.

It’s gorgeous, but was just getting going when it ended. But it’s “volume 1”, so I guess the story is to be continued?

Playgroup: Previously Unreleased (1)

15:24: Decoboko: Visual Arts Zine vol. 3 edited by Chou, Jiaxi

This has a mix of non-narrative and narrative pieces, but everything is… like… quiet. It’s definitely got a mood.

It’s really good.

Luis Yang’s piece is outstanding.

Playgroup: Previously Unreleased (1)

15:33: Los Angeles Times by Sammy Harkham

This was included in the package from Breakdown Press. Thanks! I’ve been meaning to try to get a copy, but I kept forgetting, and now here it is unexpectedly.

I don’t know the story behind this — was this really published by LA Times? Anyway, there’s no text in the newspaper to contextualise whatever it is, and I love that. And the contents feel really random in a way that suits the format. Some of these have to be older bits or reprints (like the Julie Doucet/Max collaboration here)…

Most of the pieces seem to be made specially for this paper, and riff on the lockdown and/or newspaper strips.

Whoa. Ron Regé Jr.

It’s just a strange artefact. I can imagine people finding this in a second hand shop in 40 years time and being delighted again by the randomness of it all.

Breathless: See Those Colours Fly

16:03: DCXXXL by Michael Olivo (Cold Cube Press)

This is a very mysterious book.

It’s a narrative work, but it’s really obscure what it’s all about. I mean, even telling what’s happening on a page to page basis is a (deliberate) struggle, and overall I have to summarise the book er “er… something about detectives”…

It makes books by, say, CF or Yuichi Yokoyama seem perfectly straightforward.

But it’s an appealing book.

Donna Summer: Love To Love You Baby

16:25: Windowpane by Joe Kessler (Breakdown Press)

I think I’ve read bits of this in serialised form? But this is the collection.

Nice; a strip on the inside of the dust jacket…

Kessler has a unique art style — just using colour markers, I guess? On… overlays? Straight onto paper? I don’t know, but it looks great.

It allows him to have pages that are really, really dark, when all the colours are printed on top of each other, I guess.

But you can still make out stuff in the almost-pitch-blackness of some of these pages… and it really contributes to the mood.

Oh yeah, and the stories here are really interesting, too. Sometimes a bit unnerving, but very emotional little things. *thumbs up*

17:14: Sap by Jul Quanouai (Colorama)

This small book reproduces a whole bunch of paintings of flowers, and then a surprising text in the middle.

I like it.

Donna Summer: Love To Love You Baby

17:19: Natura Comics #1-2 (Shabo Shobo)

Err… I guess the texts here are in Chinese? Darn. Well, I can use the translation app on my phone…

Err… perhaps the texts aren’t really that helpful here anyway.

Oh, there’s a paper included here with translations to Japanese and English. And, indeed, the texts aren’t helpful at all.

The other book has more text, and as the first book, what’s going on here is pretty abstract.

Even with the translator sheet, it’s all pretty vague…

But it looks good.

Orbital: Thirty-Something (1)

17:36: Tel-Tales #2 by Dan Zettwoch

I’ve never seen a comic printed just like this before — it’s folded vertically, so you get narrow, high pages. And the cover is screenprinted (I think?) on “liberated” paper from AT&T in the 80s.

It’s autobio comics, and it’s pretty amusing.

17:48: Orochi by Kazuo Umezz (Viz)

This is an old Japanese horror comic? Apparently about a supernatural woman, Orochi, who goes around meeting people, and then experience the horror of their lives.

It’s pretty good? It keeps things mysterious for the most part, but occasionally resorts to the characters telling each other what the mystery is, which is a bit meh.

But there’s some real twists here — it makes O. Henry seem like See Dick Run — and it’s more gruesome than you’d expect.

Orbital: Thirty-Something (1)

18:22: Single Camera Sitcom no. 2 by Lane Yate

This is just hard to read. I mean, for me — I’m getting new reading glasses in a couple of weeks, but meanwhile, there’s about a half centimetre range I can actually read the words in those speech balloons due to the size and colour choices used here…

It’s pretty inventive?

18:53: Trent: Miss Helen by Rodolphe/Leo (Cinebook)

This looks like it’s part of a series? Oh! It’s the seventh album, and Rodolphe has a tendency to write his series as if they are continuous wholes instead of self-contained stories.

Perhaps this would have been more entertaining if I’d read the previous albums, but I’m not sure? Leo’s artwork is dead-eyed as always, and it’s lazily (but efficiently) told in recap fashion. It’s just kinda dull?

Orbital: Thirty-Something (2)

19:20: Redbird 3 by Dan Zettwoch

Oh, another Zettwoch book… also with a nice silk-screened cover.

The first story here is the most nauseating thing ever — Zettwoch gives us an overview of all the places he’s barfed at in his life. Autobio comics are sometimes accused of sharing a bit to much, and…

The rest of the book is less er less. It’s amusing anecdote time, which is fine, and Zettwoch’s manic energy carries you along.

Orbital: Thirty-Something (2)

19:43: Today’s Desserts 1-3 by Byun Young Geun

Uhm… I’ve gotten two versions of this? One larger and in colour, and one smaller and in black and white… hm…

Oh! The black and white version is the English version.

It’s a ruminative, low key book about walking around in Tokyo…

… and eating cake. It’s kinda entrancing? Even if this two language version isn’t the ideal way to read it. Lovely art work.

19:52: Cold Cube 05 edited by Aidan Fitzgerald and Michael Heck

I didn’t know that there were this many small press art comics anthologies out there. This one, too, is riso printed.

And it’s a good match of things, going from somewhat non-narrative…

… to very non-narrative…

… to hilarious. It’s a good book.

Kelly Lee Owens: LP. 8

20:02: Le profil de Jean Melville by Robin Cousin (Epic)

Man, this is brutally, miserably ugly. Did Cousin see Nick Drnaso’s work and go “yes! that’s the way to respectability and mainstream success! I’ll make it even uglier!”

Black Midi: Hellfire

The translation also seems slightly off? Not that there’s a bunch of typos or anything, but it just doesn’t seem to flow naturally. But perhaps it was that way in the original French, too.

One thing that is this edition’s fault, though, is the way they vary the lettering size. At first I thought they were suddenly whispering at times, because the lettering went down a couple of sizes in some speech balloons. But I think they just adjust the size down when they have too many words to fit into the bubbles. That’s really, really amateurish — you can always adjust the text a bit to avoid problems like that.

This apparently won awards and stuff in France… and… I guess the plot is OK? It’s a standard paranoid “Facebook is coming for you” thriller, and it goes through all the twists you’d expect.

Coming soon to a Netflix near you?

Lizzo: Special

21:36: Showtime by Antoine Cossé (Breakdown Press)

I like the storytelling in this a lot — it’s basically a shaggy dog story, but it’s got great flow.

Lots of distancing effects etc, and the artwork’s kinda lovely, isn’t it?

OK, I’m fading, so just one more:

Lizzo: Special

21:51: Mineshaft #42

Mineshaft is still keepin’ on keepin’ on, and it’s still as unassuming as ever.

So it’s mostly sketchbook stuff and the like.

But we also get excerpts from two works in progress — the next books from Bill Griffith and Mary Fleener. I’m looking forward to both.

So I guess Mineshaft works as a periodical… postcard from those underground people you like?

Pan Amsterdam: Eat

22:04: The End

And I’m totally exhausted now, even if I had a nap in the middle there somewhere. Lots of great stuff in this haul, and nothing that was a total miss? And the latter is rather unusual.

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