Comics Daze

It’s -10C outside, so I think today’s an excellent day to be a couch potato and read some comics. And for music… stuff from 1978? Why? Why not?

Mars: 3E

15:25: Agent 327 (1966-1968) by Martin Lodewijk (E-Voke)

I’ve been reading this collection lethargically over the last couple of weeks. Agent 327 is a Dutch James Bond parody, and was never a big hit throughout Europe, so it’s a bit odd that they’re publishing a collection like this. It’s very well-made — we get 40 (!) pages of background material, for instance.

But the series (at this point, at least) consists of four to six page vignettes, and reading 160 pages of this tends towards the repetetive.

Peter Gabriel: Peter Gabriel 2

There’s one longer story included in this book, though, and it’s a lot of fun. Sure, the villain is called “Dr. Maybe”, and that’s sets the level for the jokes in this book…

… but the artwork is really lively, and the gags keep coming. It’s pretty good! There are apparently six more of these collections planned, and if future collections have less of the short gag strips and more of the full-length albums, I’m on board.

Yes: Tormato

16:17: Ronin Book II #1 by Frank Miller, Philip Tan and Daniel Henriques (FMP)

Huh! I guess I’m both surprised that there’s a continuation to Ronin (which wasn’t that successful commercially in the first place) and also surprised that it took almost 40 years for the continuation to arrive (since Frank Miller is, you know, A Name).

Oh, Miller isn’t doing the artwork at all here? Well, that brings my excitement down to a sub-zero level.

It’s not that Tan’s artwork is bad, but it’s totally normal. At least he tries to emulate Miller here and there.

The book consists mostly of two-page spreads, and it’s one long fight scene. Spoiler warning: They kill the monster; issue over.

It’s boring.

16:33: Doctor Strange: Fall Sunrise #1 by Tradd Moore & Heather Moore (Marvel Comics)

This is really cool… I’ve seen Tradd Moore illustrate some other Marvel comics (Silver Surfer?), so I was expecting a lot of splash pages (it’s a common go-to when artist write their own books). But instead it’s a lot of little intricate panels, and an intriguing storyline.

And it’s gorgeous — both Tradd Moore’s artwork and Heather Moore’s colouring. Love those colour.

I’m on board for the series, obvs.

16:45: Cult of the Ibis by Daria Tessler (Floating World)

I remember back in the 90s, alternative comics artists would be hard-pressed to be able to get a couple of issues of whatever 32-page series they were doing per year. These days, it seems like people are casually dropping 200-400 page books, and I wonder whether people just have gotten that much faster at drawing? Do they all work in animation and have gotten used to churn the stuff out?

Being faster allows people to do really decompressed storytelling, and that’s great. I mean, these two pages of not answering the phone could have been half a panel, but then that wouldn’t have been as much fun.

The artwork here is really accomplished. It’s an action paced story, with a surprisingly moving ending.

Steve Reich: Music for 18 Musicians

17:08: Sorte historier by Alfonso Font (Tegneseriekompagniet)

This book collects a large number of two-page stories with “ironic” twists. I don’t quite understand why they’ve chosen to publish them this way instead of having each story span a two-page er spread? It makes for awkward reading.

A couple of the stories are longer, and are more humorous, but they’re basically just a collection of atrocities that end with an obvious twist. After a while, it seems like the point behind these stories is less to point out some injustice or other than to just be able to draw torture and sexual abuse. It all seems sophomoric.

But then! It turns out that that’s just the first 50 pages, and then the rest is hagiographic “essays” about how awesome Font is, and a whole bunch of random pages from a whole bunch of albums Font has done. It’s the most pointless thing I’ve seen — it’s a book that should have been a blog post.

17:44: In His Time by Jason Novak (Fantagraphics)

These are adaptations of short stories by Hemingway, I guess, and they seem to distill the stories down into their essences — without becoming recaps, but instead becoming gripping little vignettes.

It’s fantastic. Absolutely riveting book. And I’m not even a Hemingway fan.

Tom Waits: Blue Valentine

18:01: Ti kniver i hjertet by Nora Dåsnes (Aschehoug)

This book won a bunch of prizes for “best comic” in Norway the other year, and was also selected for Angoulême, but it flew under my radar.

Oh, OK, the conceit here is that this is a read diary by a twelve-year-old, complete with drawings and everything.

But it deviates from this pretty soon, and becomes a mixture of diary entries and more straightforward comics bits.

The colours are wonderful, and the artwork is cool. It’s a pretty compelling story about growing up — well-trodden ground — but it really hits all the right notes. My copy here is the fifth printing, so it sounds like it’s a major hit? And that’s understandable: It’s really good.

It does sometimes feels a bit over-digested: The protagonist is very precise in her analyses of what she’s going through. But it doesn’t get too annoying.

Kraftwerk: The Man Machine

18:48: Sala Ni Yalo: Path of the Shades by Clarence Dass (Living the Line)

Living the Line started out as a Cerebus adjunct (sort of), but they’re branching out into other stuff.

And… this is pretty odd? A 24 page freestanding floppy, mostly wordless?

It’s pretty neat, though.

18:53: Crowbar 9 by Steven McArdle (Floating World)

Oh, I assumed that this was by the people who did All-Time Comics… but it presents itself as being a reprint of a series from the 90s?

I guess that could be true, or it might not be, but I’m not really interested in this, so I ditched it after a dozen pages.

Kate Bush: The Kick Inside

19:13: Des milliards de miroirs by Robin Cousin (Epic)

As with the previous Cousin book, we’re dealing with a near-future science fiction setup. It’s depressingly accurate wrt. where the planet is going etc, what with all animals dying and all that fun stuff.

But it’s a frustrating read. First of all, I just find the art style to be really, really off-putting — it’s a style apparently designed to leech any possibly enjoyment from reading the pages. And there’s so many characters that have to have their character arcs that I just grew tired of the entire thing.

The book kinda sucks, but the frustrating thing is that is has a germ of interest, so I couldn’t make myself ditch it, either.

Lester Bowie: The 5th Power

20:24: The Stoneware Jug by Stefan Lorenzutti & John Porcellino

So these are poems by Lorenzutti illustrated by Porcellino?

It’s just lovely. It somehow seems like an even more Porcellino book than the ones that are just by Porcellino. It’s magical.

Sun Ra: Lanquidity

20:37: Evig inre kris by Nina Hemmingsson (Kaunitz-Olsson)

Oh, this is a career-spanning collection. I’ve read bits of this before, but most of it seems unfamiliar to me… (But she’s been going for 20 years, so that’s perhaps not unexpected.)

It’s a mix of more narrative comics in black and white(from a couple to a handful of pages, mostly) and one-panel strips in colour. And it’s both harrowing and hilarious.

I feel seen! That’s totally me.

This book is brilliant, and the funny stuff is hilarious. But it’s more than 300 pages of this stuff, so I’m thinking I shouldn’t be reading this all in one setting, because it’s also exhausting to read all these shorter pieces, one after another. So I’m pausing this half-way through, and saving the rest for a later date…

Alice Coltrane: Transfiguration (1)

21:38: Boat Life 1 by Tsuge Tadao (Floating World)

Huh. Floating World Comics is really stepping up their game, aren’t they? Publishing more and more stuff, and larger books than before, I think? Did Drawn & Quarterly pass on this, for some reason or other? They published the previous Tsuge books, I think?

And starting to read this, I kinda understand why that might be — the earlier books (like Slum Wolf) are a lot more immediate… this is a book about growing old and stuff.

Tom Robinson Band: Power In The Darkness

And it’s absolutely pure genius. It’s got such presence, such mood — it’s a wonderful reading experience.

Genesis: And Then There Were Three

It’s hypnotic. Tsuge’s best work ever, I think. The storytelling is so seemingly effortless, with nothing tripping up the story, and with the occasional burst of beauty breaking through quotidian life.

Public Image Ltd.: First Issue

23:15: Valérian et Laureline: Là où naissent les histoires by Pierre Christin & Virginie Augustin (Cobolt)

Mézières died in 2022, but hadn’t drawn the series for a while. So this is a “Valérian par…” album (the third one). But it’s written by Pierre Christin!

And amazingly enough, this feels like a real Valérian et Laureline album — the first in decades, really. The series had been at a standstill a long time before it ended in 2011. And this is really good. I’d say it’s the best album since, say, Les foudres d’Hypsis (from 1985). (The highpoint of the series was Métro Châtelet direction Cassiopée / Brooklyn Station terminus Cosmos, of course, from 1980/81.)

Virginie Augustin’s artwork is perfect for this, and the slightly elegiac tone is appropriate. But it’s a story without much baggage — it’s a fun adventure, without The Entire Universe At Stake, which was sometimes a problem with the series. It’s kinda perfect as a Valérian et Laureline album.

Which makes the “The End (… for good?)” on the final page rather distressing. But Christin is 85 years old, so…

Public Image Ltd.: First Issue

00:05: Stripburger 62

I’m making my way through the stack of Stripburgers I bought a while ago…

This is a particularly strong issue.

It’s all intriguing stuff.

From all over Europe, and variety of approaches. It’s not a grab bag of stuff, though — it all fits well together as an anthology.

The high point is the excerpt from Barrel of Monkeys, though.

Class anthology.

Devo: Q: Are we not men? A: We are Devo!

00:20: The Complete Crepax 7: Erotic Stories, Part I by Guido Crepax (Fantagraphics)

Oh, so the other volumes have been non-erotic?!

I haven’t kept up completely with this series, but I’ve started getting the volumes now. These are heavy, large books that leave indentations on my thighs, but I’ve found a fix: I put another book flat underneath the Crepax book.

I’m a genius.

I’m fading, though, but perhaps I can read a couple stories here before turning in for the night.

This has more story than I imagined… It’s fun.

Various: No New York

But the two Emmanuelle things are quick reads indeed, so I ended up reading the entire book.

It’s good. Not as wild storylines as some of the other books, though.

Grace Jones: Fame

01:17: The End

And now it’s sleepytime. That was a solid bunch of comics. The Novak and Tsuge books were fantastic, and the Hemmingsson book, too, but all around good stuff.

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