Comics Daze

I got a whole bunch of comics in the mail yesterday, so it’s a comics readin’ day today. This time around, the comics are from all over — that is, mostly ordered directly from publishers and stuff, and very little from shops.

And I’m feeling kinda nostalgic today, so for music it’s (once again) gonna be all Talking Heads & Friends.

Talking Heads: 77 (Sire)

13:54: Sammy the Mouse III by Zak Sally

A slight wait between issues — this is a continuation of the series from Fantagraphics more than a decade ago, I think? Or… er… no, those were much shorter, and this book seems to be starting on page 200? Uncivilized also was in on this? Hm. I think I have to dig out my Fantagraphics issues of this…

I have absolutely no idea what’s going on, of course — I don’t remember even the premise of this series. But it’s lovely nonetheless: It’s a pleasant kind of befuddlement. I also like the format of the book — it’s printed on a newsprint-like paper (including the cover), which makes it very floppy.

It’s also very funny. (And features Ed the Happy Clown?)

Well, I guess I have to buy the previous two books from La Mano, which I thought just reprinted the Fantagraphics books, but I guess not.

14:18: Sleepwalking by Lauren Monger (Silver Sprocket)

Wow, lovely colours and the animal drawings are great.

The story is of the “young people hanging around” type, but feels very genuine. It doesn’t really have much of an ending, but still quite compelling.

14:25: The Karman Line by Mitsuhashi Kotaro (Glacier Bay Books)

This book uses a couple of different art styles…

It’s a collection of short, vague pieces, and this would usually be my kind of thing, but it’s got a kind of forced whimsy going on. And in addition, it’s very “deep”. Perhaps something got lost in the translation.

Talking Heads: More Songs About Buildings and Food

14:41: Boy Maximortal #4 by Rick Veitch (King Hell)

This is the concluding bit of the second volume of Veitch’ Heroica thing. (You know — Bratpack and all that stuff.) And I have to say that Veitch manages to carry it off very well; it’s very consistent with the Heroica stuff he did in the 90s.

But did we really need a Kennedy conspiracy thing here?

It’s a 100 page book, so the last half has a reprint of the Maximortal specials (which I think I’ve read before). It’s good.

Talking Heads: Fear of Music

15:27: Oglaf Book Three by Doug Bayne & Trudy Cooper

Whee. My favourite web comic. There’s fewer continuing stories these days and I really liked those — gags are great, but when reading collections like this, some continuity is nice, so I’m hoping there’s new sequence in here.

Oh, this book is from 2020…

Still hilarious, and really attractive artwork. But it’s almost all single/double page gags, and that’s exhausting to read in one sitting, so I’ve just read a third of this book now, and I’m saving the rest for a different day.

Talking Heads: Remain In Light (vinyl)

16:06: Parc by Jul Gordon (2d cloud)

Yay! 2d cloud is back!.

Love the artwork. It’s a funny but also unnerving book.

The storyline is pretty clear, but what it all means is pretty obscure. Which I like. Excellent stuff.

16:19: The Amazing Camel Toe by Claire Duplan (Black Panel Press)

The artwork is charmingly wonky, and the story is pretty sweet.

But the storytelling is just really choppy — the story seems to grind to a halt all the time.

(And what’s up with the super shiny paper? Doesn’t really fit the aesthetic of the work at all.)

Talking Heads: The Name Of This Band Is Talking Heads (Disc 1: 1977-1979)

16:42: Desert Island Mystery Mail

Oh yeah; new package from Desert Island. What’s this book, then?

I’m not quite sure what this book is… a collection of sketches and other random stuff?

Or things that have been mysteriously sent to Desert Island? It’s very random indeed. But nice.

16:50: Cyanide Swamp (Reptile House)

This is a collection of horrorish stories, I guess. Some are slightly abstract…

… and others are very referential. There’s some good pieces in here, but I didn’t feel like it really cohered as an anthology.

17:02: Everything Together by Sammy Harkham (PictureBox)

Oh, I think I have this already… it’s from 2012? Hm; not sure actually — it looks awfully familiar, but I can’t really see it in the bookcase here.

This is a fantastic collection — especially the longer pieces, which carry a substantial emotional weight.

And the shorter pieces are pretty amusing.

Talking Heads: The Name Of This Band Is Talking Heads (Disc 2: 1980-1981)

17:36: A Favorable Wind on Full Sails by Arantoochika (Glacier Bay Books)

The artwork’s interesting, but the stories are like they’re trying to win the World Ennui Championships.

And succeeding!

Towards the end of the book we get some very rough-looking strips that I assume the artist did in high school? In a way these strips are more interesting than the later ones…

18:12: True Friends by David Collier (Spare Parts Press)

I’ve been a fan of Collier’s since his appearances in Weirdo (so mid-80s?) and this is another strong book. It combines new comics (like above)…

… with older stuff, and some stories of unstated provenance about Collier’s friends in the early 80s. Collier has such an easy, digressive flow to his comics — he’s very chatty, but it’s all interesting. And, of course, his line is very appealing.

He’s done a number of very strong books, and this book is among his best work.

Talking Heads: Speaking in Tongues

It concludes with a long “appendix” of sketchbook stuff that he’d done in the period the stories are about. Nice. And there’s a note here… hm… Oh! Florida! Yeah, I’m using a mail forwarding service in Florida. Tee hee.

David Byrne and Brian Eno: My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts

19:36: Daughters of Snow and Cinders by Núria Tamarit (Fantagraphics)

Oh deer. This art style really isn’t my kind of thing — it’s in a vague no-man’s-land between Japanese children’s comics, cartoons and Corporate Memphis. All the characters have similar faces but different hairdos, which lets us tell them apart, but even within those confines, Tamarit makes some weird choices: She has three characters that have their right eyes poked out? I wondered whether that was symbolising something, but nope — perhaps she just likes drawing the characters that way?

And there’s a dog, because of course there is.

I guess this is a comic book for teenagers, but even as a teenager I would have kept rolling my eyes while reading this.

Yay! Food! Can’t make dinner myself when reading comics.

(Unfortunately, it wasn’t very good.)

I wonder whether Tamarit’s background is really in illustration — there’s a few spreads like this that are really quite good, whereas the storytelling is er not. The book goes nowhere much, but is quite annoying (not) getting there.

David Byrne: The Catherine Wheel (expanded)

20:30: The Essential Spread Love Comix edited by Uncle Gil

This is a “best of” collection from a dozen Spread Love issues, apparently.

And it’s pretty bad, actually. I mean, even for this kind of thing — it’s just so unambitious. It’s mostly single page strips, mostly having some kind of gag, and mostly not actually funny.

20:41: Š! #47 (Kuš)

The theme this time is “obsession”.

It’s a good theme; lots of things you can talk about.

And as usual, there’s a wide variety of approaches to comics here.

It’s another strong issue of Š!.

20:59: Frozengirl by Iku Kawaguchi (2d cloud)

This little book collects a whole bunch of sketches, I guess?

And other illustrations. It’s pretty cool.

David Byrne: The Knee Plays

21:03: Danger and Other Unknown Risks by Ryan North & Erica Henderson (Penguin)

Yay! North & Henderson reunited!

This is more of a straight-up adventure book than I was expecting.

Plenty of amusing repartee, but the action sags a bit here and there. But then! Ka-pow! I don’t want to give anything away, but it gets very entertaining, and I can totally see this becoming lots of teenagers’ favourite comic book ever. So — well done, even if it’s not perfect.

22:06: Pandora by Hagiwara Rei (Glacier Bay Books)

The artwork’s lovely.

But as with the other Glacier Bay books in this batch, it’s not really my sort of thing. It’s very “spiritual”.

22:24: One Strange Day by Shinnosuke Saika (Glacier Bay Books)

Now, this is more like it. It’s super cute and quite amusing.

But best of all, it’s got a kind of magical mood going on. Very nice.

Tom Tom Club: Tom Tom Club

22:30: Compact Magazine 1 by Raighne, Stephen Z Hayes (2d cloud)

Well, the Morgan Vogel strip certainly throws down the gauntlet — on the next three pages we get some real atrocities going. Very bracing! (Not showing any snaps because this is a family oriented blog.)

And the rest of the book is a lot er milder. Yvan Alagbé has some fun riffing on The Phantom and its colonialist sensibilities or something.

Puzzlingly enough, we get a short story by Samuel Delany. I mean, I love me some Delany (I’ve read all his books, even the essay, letters and diary collections, up until like 2005), but why this story from 2022? Which was published by The Baffler last year? It’s a pretty… mild… short story as Late Stage Delany goes, really, so er caveat lector, as they probably didn’t say in Rome.

Tom Tom Club: Close To The Bone

Oh, right, Blaise Larmee! His inclusion in this anthology led to a lot of Twitter Drama. Let’s see…

But I never quite understood what Larmee was being accused of at the time when all the drama was happening. Like… 2018? His book, typically and obscurely called “3 Books”, was pulped and stuff: One of the stories in that book detailed what seemed like abuse in an autobiographical manner, but everything in that book screamed “look, everything here is made up even if I’m saying nothing is”, even going as far as making a fake blog to prop up the claims of things being real. If Laurence Sterne could have fun with doing those kinds of shenanigans, then you’d think somebody now could, too.

On the other hand, if you’re publishing a book saying “LOOK! IT”S REAL” and then people think it’s real, I guess you can’t be surprised if people thinks it’s real…

Anyway! I know nothing.

The anthology ends with a 50 page long preview section, and everything seems excellent — put me down for one of each!

In conclusion: Much drama and Very Controversial Anthology, but it’s a very good anthology.

Jerry Harrison: The Red And The Black

23:50: Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe (Oni Press)

This is from 2020, but it’s being banned all over the US now, apparently, so I had to get a copy to see what the fuss is about.

Extremely clear storytelling — it seems effortless and has no snags.

And… it’s really enjoyable. I’m reading the whole book with a smile on my face, really.

Oops, I ran out of good Talking Heads-ish albums…

Yukihiro Takahashi: Neuromantic

It packs a lot of information, but it’s also funny and moving, and feels very… open? So many of the books in this area feels like they’ve been thoroughly digested and edited to death, but this one doesn’t have all the answers, but feels like a welcoming reading experience. It’s very nice, and I can see why it’s being banned a lot.

00:48: The End

OK, that was a very mixed bunch of comics. The Collier and Gordon books are going on my “best of 2023” list, I think, but there was a whole bunch of other good stuff, and only one book that I straight-up disliked, I think?

So now I’m exhausted. Night night.

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