I hadn’t planned on doing a comics reading day this week, but then I got a whopping new package of brand new comics in the mail… like ten kilos? I think this means that the Book Season is upon us — publishers like to get a certain kind of book out this time of year so that they’ll be fresh in the minds of people doing Best Of
And what kind of books are these? They’re the hefty, brick kinds of books that are all “literary” and stuff.
So I think that’ll be most of today’s reading? I’ve felt the heft of the books; I haven’t actually looked at them… let’s find out if I’m right.
And for today’s musical accompaniment — let’s do calm, calm music.
|Two Nice Girls: 2 Nice Girls|
13:40: Roaming by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki (Drawn & Quarterly)
OK, this is gonna be on top of all the “best of” lists, I think. But also… possibly not? Because it’s not completely typical…
I mean, it’s diffuse than books like this usually are. More ambiguous, less resolved, and I love it. This book has some of the best scenes ever in a comic book. And it perfectly captures so many little things.
It’s also extra amusing for me — I was touristing in New York a few weeks back, and it’s eerie how many of the places the kids here are visiting I saw on that trip, too.
Anyway, it’s a pretty wonderful book.
|Two Nice Girls: Chloe Liked Olivia|
14:43: Restless by Joseph Kai (Street Noise Books)
Huh, really original colour scheme…
Anyway, this is fantastic. It starts off slowly, but the tension builds and builds — several different threats mount (that ship in the harbour, TonyX, the gummint) and… it’s a real page turner. Such an exciting read.
And while it’s a point of view seldom seen in comics, it doesn’t succumb to catering to the reader with exposition, but instead just holds that point of view.
|Two Nice Girls: Like A Version|
15:12: Eden II by K. Wroten (Fantagraphics)
This brick of a book comes in a plastic sleeve, which is pretty unusual for Fantagraphics… (I mean, it’s unusual for them to have design flourishes like that.)
Or I guess it’s more like a phone book than a brick.
OK, this is some kind of near-future satire or something? (“Satire” is code for “not actually funny”.)
But then we abruptly shift gears, and we’re in Sit-Com Land. Sitcoms rarely translate to the page because the rhythms don’t sit the same way on the page. And you’d need a laugh track here to underline where the jokes are, because they’re not that funny.
“I’m adrift in a timeless void. Only stopping to sell my tears to rich sadists online.”
OK, I’m out. If you tried to design a book that’s less for me you couldn’t have made a more perfect book: This is 1) all philosophical (but kinda dumb), 3) about video games, with d) uninteresting drug sequences, 4) as a papery sit-com and (I’m mostly guessing based on the name) ii) with some “spiritual” dimension.
It gives you the uncomfortable feeling of being condescended to by a moron.
I ditched it after 120 pages. (Of 450.)
|Laura Jean: A Fool Who’ll|
16:18: Osha Violation by Seohsahm (Superpose)
OK, I’m gonna divert a bit from the thick September tomes and read some small press stuff.
Oh, it’s a bondage porn book.
16:21: Despair by Charlotte Pelissier
This is from the Desert Island Mystery box — Gabe showed me pics of this being made when I visited. The covers are all hand spray painted. Looks great!
This is pretty wild.
And very funny.
|Laura Jean: Eden Land|
16:33: Memoirs of a Man in Pajamas by Paco Roca (Fantagraphics)
OK, back to the corporate (ahem) comics.
This starts off with a longer, very amusing story…
… but the rest of the book seems to be shorter pieces. That is, the book collects three albums (I think), and I was exhausted after reading the first album (about 80 pages of this stuff) that I’m going to postpone reading the rest to some later date. (Some things work better when left as thinner comics.)
It’s not that these aren’t funny pages — several of them are very amusing. The problem is that Roca has a lot of “observations” about everything, and they’re mostly (well, I’m being kind — all) trite.
|Laura Jean: Our Swan Song|
These pages originally ran in a magazine — one per week I’m guessing — and I think they probably worked very well in that context. Roca really plays up his schlubbiness, and reading page after page of this, it’s hard not to start to dislike him. I know, I know, these aren’t documentaries — what we’re reading is the way he chooses to portray himself, and he does this to get a laugh — but it’s a difficult genre. Joe Matt was a master of this genre: He, too, exaggerated his annoying qualities to make entertaining strips, but there was something really lovable and endearing about it all. Roca doesn’t have that fine-tuned control, and at the end of this I was going *gngnngng* at the pages here a lot.
Still, it is entertaining, but I think it’s best consumed in smaller quantities, which I’m going to do with the rest of the book. I think it might make for a perfect read-a-couple-pages-before-bed-time book.
|Morgan Caney & Kamal Joory: Magic Radios|
17:48: A Book to Make Friends With by Lukas Verstraete (Fantagraphics)
Well, isn’t this a fancy book… it comes with a slipcase that has handles embedded that you can pull out…
Kinda like this Ben Katchor book, but fancier.
Oh! I don’t know what I expected, but it wasn’t this… With such a lavish production on this huge book (almost tabloid size), I guess I was expecting something more finicky. More like Chris Ware or something. Or something wilder than this, like Gary Panter?
Not that this isn’t wild.
It’s a pretty slight story — it’s about somebody stealing a MacGuffin, and this guy losing his identity, and… stuff.
It’s an enjoyable read, but I guess I expected more? In this case, I think the fancy design worked against the book — a simpler presentation wouldn’t have raised the expectations so high, perhaps.
18:19: Damnation Diaries by Peter Rostovsky (Uncivilized Books)
This is an unusual-looking book for Uncivilized — I mean, it looks and feels just like an Image TP collecting a handful of issues. The same format and similarly glossy paper.
And this really is a honest-to-god satire, so none of the jokes are actually funny. I mean — two digs at modern art over the first few pages? I know that modern art is the bugaboo of certain “I know how to draw a hand” comics artists, but c’mon.
And then an Ikea joke? The jokes are just painful. Hey! Perhaps that’s a meta comment on it all, since the book is set in hell? So reading it should be painful?
Anyway, this book is about a former art teacher stuck in hell, visiting a psychologist to work out his real problems, and then there’s a resistance group in hell that wants to make things better, so they explode a huge bomb, burying lots of people. Like one does if one wants to improve things. I wonder whether Rostovsky works as a writer for Marvel/Disney:
Anyway, the book sucks. (But he does know how to draw a hand.)
|Telebossa: Garagen Aurora|
19:03: Ursula/This Disease We Call Skin by Erika Price/Lane Yates
I like the obsessive qualities here. And I guess this strip is about cell phones?
19:31: The Hills of Estrella Roja by Ashley Robin Franklin (Clarion Books)
This has a lot going for it — it’s got likeable characters, artwork inspired by Japanese comics, and a fun X-Files-but-for-2023 plot.
|Various: Erased Tapes: 1 + 1 = X (1)|
Oops; it’s eight — I should eat something. Be right back.
It’s got some problems, though — I was having a hard time telling some of the characters apart, and the usual way artists deal with that is by giving people different hair colour (Expert Tip Time) — but here that strategy is being defeated by the tendency to colour everybody by mood instead.
The plot is also just kinda seems to be lacking in general sense. Like — she drove out here, and there’s no time limit or anything to what she’s doing. She could just go back to Austin and return the next week with better equipment for monster hunting. And SPOILERS the ending itself: Those people taking care of The Secret sure did a bad job. I mean, a cave where anybody can just walk in? A defence that relies on nobody dragging their feet across a line of dust? A stray can could have released those monsters. How about installing a door? Or laminating the Anti Monster Dust Line Of Defence? Just something?
I know I know, those are very very nerdy things to be bitching about, and if you say that I must be fun at parties I have to tell you that you’re wrong.
Still! It’s a good, fun read.
|Various: Erased Tapes Collection VIII|
21:34: This Country by Navied Mahdavian (Princeton Architectural Press)
This is about a couple moving to a very remote place in Idaho.
Nothing really dramatic happens there — they grow some veggies and meet the neighbours (all of whom are pleasant towards them (except for asking him where he’s from)).
And then there’s this.
The artwork is really attractive throughout, and especially the drawings of wildlife are great.
The storytelling is really on point, too — like I said, nothing dramatic happens, but there’s still a nerve going through this: It’s not boring for a microsecond. (It’s also quite funny here and there.)
It’s really good.
|Various: The World Is Everything|
22:40: The End
So I think I’ll call it a night here. The day started with two really solid books, and then there were some mixed books, and ending it on a high seems like a good idea. (Besides, I have to do some French learnin’.)