Comics Daze

Finally another day I’ve got nothing planned so that I can do some comics reading.

David Bowie: Who Can I Be Now? (7): Young American

09:07: Mimosa by Archie Bongiovanni (Abrams)

The artwork’s quite attractive — open and friendly, like.

But while there are only four characters, I’m having a lot of trouble keeping them apart. And I generally like low-stakes stories — this is about four friends in their thirties and their dramas — it’s just hard to get invested.

Heh heh.

David Bowie: Who Can I Be Now? (8): Station To Station

09:50: Nikel Junk by Nakito Bolino

I bought a whole lot of stuff at Desert Island when I was in New York, so let’s read some of that…

Wow, this folds out into a very wide diorama…

Totally wild. Totally amazing.

09:54: USA Truck by CF/Mickey Zacchilli/Charlotte de Sédony

We get about 12 pages from each artist…

They’re all loosely tied to the “USA Truck” theme.

It’s fantastic.

10:01: Warm Television by John Pettinger

This is very funny.

But there’s like an emptiness here?

But it is indeed very funny.

10:11: Liquid Realm 2 by Samuel Hickson

This is very intriguing — three stories that all pack a punch (and are pretty funny).

Sliiightly political.

Good stuff.

David Bowie: Who Can I Be Now? (10): Live Nassau Coliseum ’76 (1)

10:27: Quarter Vomit “Gets Day Drunk” by Chad Gumbo

This has a lot of New Orleans in jokes (I’m guessing), but also a lot of fart jokes.

It’s very strange, which is nice.

10:47: Closed-Eye Hallucination by Cody Hudson

This is kinda gorgeous.

But very brief.

10:50: Palookaville #24 by Seth (Drawn & Quarterly)

OK, back to more mainstream stuff.

I love that Seth is still doing Palookaville, serialising his comics instead of just plonking out new graphic novels. However, the current story, where he mostly harps on about his utterly, totally original observation that it’s frequently quite difficult to remember what happened when you were a kid, is a bit disappointing.

It’s pretty good?

As usual, the final two thirds of the is “extras”: Here we get a lot of pics from making of a movie twenty years ago…

… and a whole lot of strips from his sketchbook, and they’re all kinda dream-like.

Also included is a DVD of the aforementioned movie.

David Bowie: Who Can I Be Now? (11): Live Nassau Coliseum ’76 (2)

11:20: Proof That The Devil Loves You by Gilbert Hernandez (Fantagraphics)

Anyway, what’s up with Fantagraphics these days? I know that comics publishers have to pay the bills, but it’s getting a bit out of hand…

Indie comics publishers have (almost) always had to publish profitable things to subsidise publishing the books they want to publish, but there’s an unfortunate progression to these things you can see with publishers historically. To take an example — Eclipse Comics started out very “pure”, just publishing things they obviously felt were good comics, and then when the market turned sour, they started publishing more mainstream adventure comics, before dabbling with collectables like non-sports trading cards, before publishing virtually nothing else. So, like, publishers “do business” to be able to publish comics, but then the “business” takes over, and we end up with a company that publish comics to “do business”.

Fantagraphics has always been in the former group, subsidising their real publishing schedule first with things like Amazing Heroes, then reprints of John Byrne comics, then porn, and then reprints of Italian Disney comics.

Looking at the September publishing schedule, these are the only new things they’re publishing:

PRINCE VALIANT HC VOL 27 1989 – 1990

This excludes things that they’re offering again (i.e., “AO” and “SS” in Previews parlance).

It’s all reprints, except for the last two books — which aren’t comics, but are books about comics.

And of the reprints, it’s all either Disney stuff or newspaper strips — except for the Bill Ward book and the Atlas book (which reprints pre-Marvel stuff).

So what’s going on at Fantagraphics these days?

Oh, I’ve read this before… this book reprints stuff from issues of Love and Rockets. But is this sequence long enough to be a standalone book? I remember this thing, which is a “Fritz movie” that uses the milieu from Hernandez’ first few stories, the ones collected as Heartbreak Soup, in an er sacrilegious way. I mean, Fritz (i.e., Hernandez) is making fun of his own work, with the “me and my symbolic screwdriver” bit, portraying Luba as a loon.

Yeah, I was wondering whether Hernandez was going to expand that “movie”, but nope — instead we just get a lot other things glued onto that one, without much rhyme or reason. I’m not sure how much of these things are reprints, but I recognise some of it, at least.

It’s a very strange book. Perhaps there’s some logic to the selections, but I’m not really invested enough to try to tease that out. (With Hernandez’ early stuff, I was, and that made for very rewarding reading — because there really was a lot to tease out, but I’m not sure that’s the case any more.)

Perhaps they’re just supposed to be separate “movies”? They’re brief ones if so.

David Bowie: A New Career in a New Town (1): Low

11:54: The Naked Tree by Keum Suk Gendry-Kim (Drawn & Quarterly)

Ah, right, another Korean book from Drawn & Quarterly… it’s their speciality these days, isn’t it?

It’s… kinda odd? It presents itself as an autobio book, but it can’t be (because of the dates involved). And it’s way odd for autobio — the main character seems to be introduced as a really harsh character that does seemingly inexplicable things — presumably to have a “character arc” where she learns stuff, probably involving some other character dying.

(I know, I’m so non-judgemental.)

So I did something that I never do: I turned to the back cover of the book and read what was written there, and then things became clear: This is an adaptation of an old, famous novel.

OK, makes sense, then.

David Bowie: A New Career in a New Town (2): Heroes

The layouts are cool, but the storytelling is a bit choppy. And… there’s a lot of clichés in the story, and I didn’t much like the book.

But I guess if you like this sort of book, this is the sort of book you’ll like.

David Bowie: A New Career in a New Town (4): Stage (1)

13:18: Epic Wayne Quarterly #1 edited by Teo Suzuki

OK, back to the Desert Island haul…

The format is cute (a small square-ish book), but few of the pages were drawn with the format in mind, so some things you have to squint at to read.

While other things come off better.

I guess this is more of a showcase for young artists than an anthology? It’s pretty entertaining.

13:40: Somewhere Far From Here by Darty Foroohar

This is utterly original, and makes for quite riveting read.

The story absolutely doesn’t go where you expect it to. Good stuff.

David Bowie: A New Career in a New Town (5): Stage (2)

13:58: Tourista Dibujos by Caroline Sury (Le dernier cri)

Desert Island had a whole bunch of stuff from Le dernier cri, but as I’m going to Paris next month, I thought it would perhaps make more sense to pick up books there. They’re located in Marseille, though. Anybody know a comics shop in Paris that carries their stuff? I should get googling…

This is a collection of drawings Sury made on various journeys.

It’s great!

14:14: Gleem by Freddy Carrasco (Peow)

This is a lot of fun to read. It’s really kinetic, propulsive.

And the stories are pretty original. The strongest piece is the middle story, I think, which ends up being rather touching, and the scene in the park is kinda magical.

David Bowie: A New Career in a New Town (9): Lodger (2017 Remix)

14:30: Mother Nature by Jamie Lee Curtis/Karl Stevens/Russell Goldman (Titan Comics)

Back to more mainstream comics… and… what the? Oh, right, I bought this because I’m a Karl Stevens fan. But it’s written by Jamie Lee Curtis? That Jamie Lee Curtis?

I’m guessing this is based on a movie script? Stevens is an odd choice for adapting something like this to comics, because his artwork is extremely photo-referenced, which doesn’t make for great action scenes. (It does make for lovely domestic and nature scenes, though, which is what he’s known for.)

And… while the colours are beautiful as always, it’s just hard to tell what’s actually going on. Too many of the characters look similar, and the storytelling style leaves a lot to the characters to convey what’s happening, and they just don’t — it’s usually impossible to tell what they’re supposed to feel, or just what they’re doing. Like who is that woman flipping off anyway?

David Bowie: A New Career in a New Town (10): Scary Monsters

The further on the book gets, the less I understand what’s happening. This book could have been helped by captions like “Meanwhile, back at the ranch, they were worried that it wasn’t a good idea to clad the fallout shelters with radium” (!), or whatever — it’s frequently just totally impenetrable.

I suspect that the script is kinda bad, too, but I just don’t know, because I don’t know what’s supposed to be going on.

So I was wondering whether I’d had some sort of brain trauma and suddenly become unable to read a comic book, but nope:

This is such a mess. I can’t write a summary of it ‘cause I’m not sure what exactly was happening in it. There’s something about an oil drilling company, but also about radioactive stuff, and also Diné spirits. It’s an adaptation of a movie script, but unfortunately the art does not do a good job of communicating what’s unsaid, and the dialog on its own isn’t quite enough. The art style makes it hard to tell characters apart. There are too many close-ups, that it’s hard to tell what is actually happening in different situations. It skips around so much at times that it feels like there are panels or full pages missing. It is just a mess.


I wanted to love this. It was about what we’ve done to our planet, and written by Jamie Lee Curtis, whom I love. Yet the story was so confusing. I couldn’t follow what was happening, and the artwork between two of the main characters made them look so like I kept confusing who was who. I felt like I was missing things and reread the beginning at least 10 times going back trying to see if I had missed something only to realize that it just wasn’t there. Such a huge disappointment!

OK, after that I think I need a break to make some dinner and unfuddle my brain.

David Bowie: Loving the Alien (1): Let’s Dance

16:35: Ashes by Álvaro Ortiz (Top Shelf)

This is a very griddy book — it starts off on a 4×6 grid (with many panels combined in various fashions)…

David Bowie: Loving the Alien (2): Serious Moonlight (1)

It gives the book a stark graphical quality.

David Bowie: Loving the Alien (3): Serious Moonlight (2)

Then after about 60 pages, the book shifts to a 4×5 grid for no particular reason, as far as I can tell.

Sometimes with comics that follow a strict grid, it makes the panels sort of stop being noticeable? But here I found that I’m almost doing nothing but looking at the various grid configurations.

Anyway, this is a classic road movie comic book, with a classic setup: Three friends are going to bring the ashes of a fourth to a specific place, and then things happen along the way. There’s a lot of enjoyable scenes, but I’m not quite sure it works as a whole? That is, I’m finding myself growing rather impatient with the entire thing…

The ending was really fun, though.

David Bowie: Loving the Alien (4): Tonight

18:23: Cartoon Dialectics 4 by Tom Kaczynski (Uncivilized Books)

I enjoy Kaczynski’s books — I think I’ve read all of them — but this one feels more distracted than usual.

And it’s about Atlantis and stuff? It’s just not my thing.

18:39: The Other Option by Soso Capaldi

This comes with a quizzing glass, which is very handy if you want to quiz somebody.

This book is largely narrative, but in a kind of vague way. It’s actually kind of moving? Really lovely.

David Bowie: Loving the Alien (7): Glass Spider (Live Montreal ’87) (1)

18:58: ABC of Fears and Anxieties by Simone F. Baumann

*gasp* That’s so frightening!

*gasp* Even worse!

This is a very funny book, and I love the artwork.

OK, I’m fading now… reading comics is exhausting. But just one more.

19:04: What Did You Eat Yesterday 20 by Fumi Yoshinaga (Vertical)


The food they make usually seems delicious, but that just seems… wrong. I’m glad he was able to use that ketchup, though: It must have weighed on his mind.


I can’t stop smiling while reading this book.

David Bowie: Loving the Alien (8): Glass Spider (Live Montreal ’87) (2)

20:09: The End

And now I really have to stop reading.

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