Comics Daze

It’s another rainy day, so… comics!

This time around I’ve got a bunch of small press comics — both from the UK and from the US (including a whopping package from Domino Books). I’ve also been shopping at a sale here at a local comics shop, as well as getting some corporate comics. My inclination would be to just read all the small press books, but then I’d have to read all the “literaries” later, so I think I’ll mix things up… try to get, like, half and half small press and not? Let’s see how that goes.

They Hate Change: Now, and Never Again

13:42: Penny by Karl Stevens (Birdcage Bottom Books)

This was published in 2021, but I randomly happened across it while browsing something else on the web. And I’m a fan av Stevens — I think I’ve got basically all his other books, but it’s just so hard to just learn what’s being published out there, even if you’re trying to pay attention. There’s just no way to do publicity… I mean, it’s not even publicity — you just need to tell people that this thing exists.

It’s a collection of (mostly) one-page strips featuring Stevens’ cat Penny ruminating about life and stuff. It’s fun. I’m guessing these were originally published on Instagram?

The artwork is gorgeous.

It does get slightly monotonous reading single page after single page, but Stevens breaks this up once in a while with longer stories.

Still House Plants: Fast Edit

14:26: Keeping Score & Two Minis by Jesse Reklaw (Fantagraphics)

Hey! It’s another book of single page cat strips. What are the odds.

It’s a sneaky book, though — it turns out to be kinda devastating, and it’s not really about the cat.

The second mini is a comics tour diary thing, and it’s quite amusing. But also horrifying.

Pizza Hotline: Level Select

Right, I got these books from Reklaw’s web site

So this is another diary comic, but without much of a concept this time around — just daily strips.

There’s also a bunch of guest strips.

It’s a pretty exhausting thing to read, because Reklaw’s like just seems impossibly busy and chaotic, really. But the book is compelling reading — it does shape itself into a kind of narrative, and you want to know whether the laptop problems were going to get fixed, and so on. It’s a solid book.

Ministry: Toronto 1986

16:32: Punkserier by Mare Kandre (Kartago förlag)

Found this at the sale. This is a collection of comics done by an apparently famous Swedish punk musician who died in 2005. I think the artwork is really striking, right? The story doesn’t really go anywhere, though.

The one about mental illness is more fully formed, storywise.

Interesting stuff, anyway.

There’s also a biography (which I didn’t read)…

… and a CD, which I should have been listening to, but I didn’t know that it was there. Ooops!

Musson, Edwards, Sanders: Bibimbap

16:50: Six Minis by Lando/Tsemberlidis (Decadence Comics)

I got these from Decadence Comics, a British publisher. The books themselves don’t really seem to say who’s the artist behind these, but there’s “Lando” on one and “Tsemberlidis” on two, and the rest are anonymous.

Mysterious little objects.

They’re all propulsive — just short wordless vignettes filled with action.

Oh, and some flyers…

It’s all vaguely sf action stuff…

… and they’re drawn in a kind of mid-point between late 70s French comics and Japanese comics?

They’re really attractive.

Natural Wonder Beauty Concept: Natural Wonder Beauty Concept

But extremely quick reads.

17:01: I Spent Too Long on this Lettering by Heather Loase

Loase did last year’s funniest comic book, Puttana Cartoonist. This is a collection of slightly older one-page comics, presented in reverse chronological order, I think?

It’s totally wild and out of control, and it’s pretty funny. But not as funny as Puttana Cartoonist. But then again, very little is.

Oh right… I also got these… “tapestries”. Which is a fancy word for “blankets”, apparently.

But they’re great — this is the Jim Woodring one…

And this gorgeous one is by Lisa Hanawalt. Now I’m ready for winter.

17:33: Rattfylleri by Tara Booth (Lystring)

This is an expanded version of the D.U.I. book that was originally published by Colorama in Berlin.

The first half of this is the story of Booth being put in a holding cell overnight for drunken driving.

It’s fun! The last half is about how she stopped drinking, and it’s not as much fun, but it’s heartfelt and moving.

Joëlle Léandre & Paul Lovens: Off Course

17:44: Machine Detective by The Holland Boys

This looks really wild, but it’s actually a straightforward story — it’s two cops investigating a massacre. (One is a robot and the other not.)

Hijinx ensue.

I like it.

Oops, gotta run some errands. Be right back.

The Cure: Join the Dots (3)

18:53: Girls Named Meghan by Beth Heinly

Hm… this book feels like it’s print-on-demand. (No that there’s anything wrong with that. Some of my best friends are on-demand.)

This is an autobio book about being fifteen and friends with somebody who has a lot of drama. It’s pretty good! The art style sometimes makes it a bit difficult to remember who is who — I mean, they’re all drawn differently, but you have to cram to remember who’s who…

The storytelling is also sometimes a bit choppy, and there’s a certain uneasiness about word balloon placement and reading order. But it’s an enjoyable read.

19:32: Husky Tales by Andrew Field

Well, this is something else, isn’t it? It’s a series of stories presented as Jewish folk tales (I don’t know if that’s true or not).

I’m not sure whether they actually connect in a meaningful way, but it’s an interesting read anyway.

Shearwater: Jet Plane and Oxbow

19:47: The Sleep Gas by Chris Cajero Cilla (Fantagraphics)

This has a 90s indie comics feel to it, except that it feels like the panels have been printed in random order or something. That is, the stories are stubbornly nonsensical — perhaps it’s a pot thing?

The other half of the book has more traditionally narrative stories, but I’m not really feeling it.

I should go make some food. Perhaps I’m just cranky because I’m hungry.

Mourning [A] BLKstar: Reckoning

20:43: Blueberry – Amertume Apache by Christophe Blain/Joann Sfar (Cobolt)

I think this is the first “special adventure of” for Blueberry (i.e., when they invite some famous comics artists to do their take on a character where the creators have died).

Well, they’re doing the general storytelling style quite successfully…

But it assumes that you’re really familiar with the old Blueberry albums. I’ve read them all, but it’s been a while (to put it mildly). This is like one of those Marvel mini-series that have an asterisk on page three that says “* This takes place between panels 3 and 4 on page 19 of The Uncanny X-Men #178”?

But my god, this is tedious. There’s way too many characters, none of which are very interesting, and way too many soap opera scenes. It just drags and drags — and the story isn’t even finished in this album, but in the next one.

Which I won’t be buying.

What a disappointment — both Sfar and Blain have done some really good things before, but they’ve really struck out on this one.

21:19: Laab Magazine #04 by Ronald Wimberley & Josh O’Neill (Beehive Books)

I’m a sucker for elaborately printed comics, and this is kind of fun:

It’s a number of folded-up broadsheets inside a cardboard sleeve. Folded out, these pages are huge.

There’s something thrilling about the sheer size of these pages.

Hey! They paid the contributors? Is that even legal for projects like this?

There’s also a bunch of text features here, which is perhaps a somewhat odd choice for a huge-format book like this. And many of the pages seem to be printed with really large margins?

Anyway, as a physical object it’s great, but the contents are… uhm… they don’t really feel that vital. I’d guesstimate that about a third of the pages are by the editors themselves, and the rest are mostly one-page strips that don’t really seem to have much to say other than “hey, I’m sure printed big”.

King Crimson: The Complete 1969 Recordings (18): Sessions 6

22:04: 3 Minis by Julia Gförer

Gförer’s comics are gorgeous, and brimming with dread.

I think this is the newest one? The linework seems simpler and less gothic than earlier… but the story is really intriguing.

This one is from a few years ago, and is very metaphorical or something.

Anyway, three class minis.

22:22: Trigger Shot/Flat Filters by Tal Brosh and Chino Moya

Trigger Shot is about artificial insemination, and then in-vitro fertilisation.

And it’s absolutely amazing. It manages to be both abstract and concrete at the same time — the entire story is told this way, but it’s not particularly confusing.

Except the ending — I think this is a horror story? But I’m not quite sure.

Wonderful book — utterly original.

Flat Filters is an earlier book, and is more traditional.

But still quite odd. It’s a compelling book, though — very original.

22:47: Frykt & medlidenhet by Ane Barstad Solvang (No Comprendo Press)

This is very full on — it’s about having a reunion with old high school friends, getting drunk and telling story after story about horrific gynaecological problems.

It’s funny, and the art really reflects the chaos of the stories being told.

Then things turn really serious in the third act, and there’s also a twist of sorts (perhaps the narrator isn’t totally reliable?)… I’m not sure that’s totally successful, but it’s a pretty good book.

Various: Fabric 75 (Maya Jane Coles)

23:24: Sell-Out Comics by Mike Dawson

This is a collection of short, chatty pieces. Dawson gets some good jokes in here, and it’s pretty thoughtful throughout.

It’s good, but it’s depressing, because he’s right.

23:38: Terraformonauts by Rodger Binyone

This is a narrative book, but I’m not quite sure what’s happening? I think something is being given birth to, or something.

I think the cover and this amazing spread are screenprinted? It feels that way — that slightly sticky feeling. The rest of the book doesn’t seem to be, but I have no idea. It’s a class book, anyway — quite compelling.

They Hate Change: Meters

23:43: Visages du temps/Rêve de Jean-Marie Massou by Sammy Stein (Lystring)

Is this risograph, perhaps? Or fake riso. In any case, the book is about a sort of static utopia…

The text is both in French and Swedish.

It’s kinda great.

The large book is a collection of short pieces that have previously been published in a variety of venues.

Many of the pieces are about exhibitions in museums or galleries, and feature conversations from people talking about the exhibitions in a kind of distracted way. It’s a meditative book, in a way?

It’s great — it’s a very pretty book, and teeters between abstraction and narrative in a very mindful way. It’s not dream-like, but it’s rather like being asleep.

Genesis P. Orridge & The Halfer Trio: Dream Less Suite

00:22: Københavnermysteriet by Sussi Bech/Frank Madsen/Jens Olaf Pepke Pedersen (Eudor)

I should go to bed — I’m pleasantly exhausted from all this reading. But just one more.

Uhm… is this book just a way to fool kids into learning snippets about physics and stuff?

Yes indeed!

I don’t want no book learnin’!

So I ditched this halfway through. There should have been a warning on the cover.

00:38: The End

So now I’m going to bed.

That was a very varied bunch of comics, and some really excellent ones in there.

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