Comics Daze

I got a big shipment of comics a week ago, but I’ve been sorta holding off reading them — not chomping at the bits to read them, really. Because this is mostly non-small-press books (Fanta, D&Q, etc), and the likelihood of being them middle-of-the-road books is greater… I mean, with movies and novels and stuff, I like art and I like junk and I don’t much care for the stuff in between. But I love the comics art form so much that I’ll read just about any comic book, even if the comic book is kinda stodgy and “Pulitzer prize worthy”…

But I haven’t actually looked at which books I got — perhaps it’s all bangers? *crosses fingers*

OK, let’s get readin’.

Saya Gray: QWERTY EP

07:58: Nejishiki by Yoshiharu Tsuge (Drawn & Quarterly)

Speaking of respectability… this is the Screw Style book, right? So why is it called Nejishiki? Yup. I guess D&Q just can’t publish something called Screw Style these days… What would the community say… And that’s an aggressively boring cover, isn’t it?

And I think we’ve reached Peak Japanese Comics Essayification — there’s 180 pages of comics here and about 70 pages of essays.

I’ve read the Screw Style story before, but it’s still pretty wonderful. The reproduction is kinda meh, though… Hm…

Jockstrap & Taylor Skye: I<3UQTINVU

It’s a collection of short pieces (from Garo, as always), and some seem more autobiographical than others, but they’re all rather dream-like.

With lots of sex, as befits a dream-like book.

It’s great stuff, and rather unnerving.

Oval: Now, Never, Whenever Vol. 1

08:48: Night and Dana by Anya Davidson (Graphic Universe)

Oooh! I’ve been a fan of Anya Davidson for yonks… Her stuff is so wild.

What the… This looks nothing like her older stuff — it’s got a subdued palette (all the rage these days) and everybody’s shouting all the time and the characters all look oddly short and dumpy…

Joni Mitchell: Archives: The Asylum Years (1)

And everybody’s drawn the same — like in that next to last panel, it looks like two men are playing in the sea, but then it turns out that it’s a teenager and a toddler.

Everything just looks so odd — I mean, look at that last panel. How are those people sitting at that desk? How do those figures make sense? For that matter, how does that table make sense? Is it just hovering?

It’s so weird — Davidson is really talented, but this looks like she took an assignment to do a young adult comic book and dashed it off on an Ipad over a couple of weeks. In addition to the artwork being uninspiring, the storytelling is choppy and the story is… not very thrilling.

09:40: My Picture Diary by Fujiwara Maki (Drawn & Quarterly)

Hey! This isn’t comics!

Oh right, her husband is Tsuge, and this depicts the same period as his The Man Without Talents. I guess that’s the main interest here — it seems like a kinda fannish thing to be publishing this (and of course, with a hefty essay at the end about it all). But… it’s pretty good, actually? I like the artwork and the “story” gets more interesting at the books proceeds.

The Unthanks: Here’s The Tender Coming

10:18: Nap Time

I got up way too early, so I think I’ll take a nap now.

[time passes]

Eek! That was a bad idea. I slumbered for a couple hours and then finally fell asleep…

15:20: Night Cruising by Harry Nordlinger (Floating World Comics)

So this is a little horror story…

It’s Harry Nordlinger, so you get some pointless mutilation and then it’s over. Très transgressif.

The Au Pairs: Equal But Different: BBC Session 1979-1981

15:25: Not a New York Love Story by Julian Voloj/Andreas Gefe (FairSquare)

Oh wow, I really like the artwork on this… very expressive, and very accurate at the same time.

The story is pretty intriguing — until you get to the end, where it’s *doh*. The end comes as a surprise, most of all because there’s 30 “bonus pages” of sketches and stuff, so you’re reading along expecting the book to be much longer, and then it just stops over a couple of pages.

15:39: Dan’s Secret by Jasper Krents

So what is his secret?


It’s pretty funny, and it’s original.

15:43: My Brilliant Friend by Chiara Lagani/Mara Cerri (Europa Editions)

Wut. Why did I buy this, then? I’ve read the first two books in the Ferrante series, and I guess I liked them well enough, but I was pretty fed up with it all, too… so why get a comics adaptation? I must have been drunk.

Huh, this isn’t what I expected — comics adaptations have a tendency to try to preserve too much text, so that you end up with an illustrated version of the novel instead of a comic book. But this is quite the opposite.

Doing it in this style means that you can only get a few scenes from the novel into the book, so it’s like the comic version is more of a souvenir, reminding the readers of key scenes.

But does it work as a comic book? Well, it’s interesting… it’s a really brisk read, but it does have the mood of the novel. I’m not quite certain somebody who hasn’t read the novel would be able to understand what’s going on, though.

I enjoyed reading this version — I like the artwork, and the storytelling is good.

Ah, there’s a TV series, too:

Readers unfamiliar with the works underlying this iteration of the story—Ferrante’s original books and the hit HBO miniseries from which Cerri drew visual inspiration—may find some incidents puzzling to parse, such as schoolgirl Lila’s apparent fall from an apartment window.


This graphic novel is my first experience with the material. As a stand-alone volume, I found it pretty confusing. I did read it cover to cover, and there were multiple times that I wasn’t sure what was going on or which characters were which.

Yeah, I can see that.

16:13: Mangaka 1 by Floyd Tangeman

I’ve gotten more small press comics than I remembered…

As usual with Tangeman, the book is wild, and is wildly enjoyable.

16:23: Röhner by Max Baitinger (2d cloud)

I’d also forgotten that I’d gotten a mystery box from Desert Island, and the past two months have been heavy on old books from 2d cloud. Which is nice — most everything they published was good. But the problem is that I’ve already got almost everything. And this book looks really familiar, too, but I can’t find it on my shelves, so perhaps this is one I’d missed?

… and… it’s fantastic! And I don’t think I’ve read it before after all?

I think I would have remembered.

It’s about a passive aggressive (very) guy, his neighbour and a possibly annoying friend that visits. It’s fascinating and rather gripping.

Ida: The Bottom of the Hill (1)

16:58: Vanishing Perspective by Alexis Beauclair (2d cloud)

Another 2d cloud book that looks really familiar, but I can’t find it here, either…

These are pretty minimalist comics…

… but some of them are weirdly narrative. I mean, the “stories” are about being in a labyrinth (above), or watching from the perspective of a bird flying by, but all told in this minimal way. It’s fascinating.

And the final section piles on the patterns to such a degree that they start resembling those optical illusion bits, and start shimmering in the eyes and moving around…

It’s great stuff.

17:10: Bloodlines 3 by Rob Walton

Here it is — the final book in the Bloodlines series (started more than four decades ago). I’ve been a bit surprised that this book hasn’t gotten more attention (surely I can’t have been the only fan of the original series (partially published by Vortex)), but then again, this is a print on demand book available from Amazon only… and you can’t really find it by searching on Amazon:

You only get the old series. You have to use Google to search:

Bizarre. Perhaps there’s some kickback scheme where you have to pay Amazon extra for them to show people what you’re selling… Anyway, here’s the actual page where you can buy this book.

Anyway, this book is mostly the final showdown between Manasseh and Deborah, and it’s drawn in Walton’s super duper sharp style as usual. There’s a lot going on — I’m guessing there’s a lot of religiousey symbolism that I’m probably missing — but it’s a kind of thrilling read anyway. It’s just gripping.

So many 80s comics series just disappeared before they finished, but over the last decade more than a handful have been belatedly completed and collected. And… most of them have kinda failed? That is, it’s obvious that the creator(s) have lost all enthusiasm for the work over the decades, and are grudgingly adding some new pages to finish off the book. (I’m looking at you, Puma Blues.) But that’s not the case here at all: This feels like it has all the enthusiasm and conviction the original series had back then.

Ida: The Bottom of the Hill (2)

17:48: 40 Men and 12 Rifles by Marcelino Troung (Arsenal Pulp Press)

OK, this isn’t my kind of thing — having characters recap their dilemmas for the reader is just really boring. (If efficient.)

And when they’re not recapping their own lives to one another, they’re recapping the history of the country to each other.

My god.

OK, I just have no interest in this — it’s like everything I don’t like piled into one book, so I’m ditching it.

Emma Tricca: Aspirin Sun

18:17: The Out Side edited by The Kao, Min Christensen & David Daneman (Andrews McMeel)

This is a collection (on very shiny paper) of very brief… er… I don’t even know what to call them. They’re not even vignettes, most of them?

They’re more like itsy bitsy little presentations on why these people are trans (or adjacent) — I think the shortest one is one page, but most hover around the five page mark. So it feels like I’m reading a Xitter thread. And most of the er pieces aren’t very interesting in themselves, so after reading a dozen of them, I lost faith in the book and started skimming. There may be some good pieces in there; I have no idea.

I blame the editors.

18:45: Shadow Hills by Sean Ford (Secret Acres)

I like this — it’s got a late-90s indie comics vibe going on. It’s very mysterious and stuff.

It’s a kind of horror story, I guess, but also about fracking and drugs.

It’s a really enjoyable read, and Ford has an attractive line. It sometimes feels like he was losing confidence in the work, because he adds infodumps like this that feel really unnecessary? Anyway, it’s good stuff.

Oneohtrix Point Never: Again

19:11: Blackward by Lawrence Lindell (Drawn & Quarterly)

OK, I think I’m gonna stop reading soon, but one more…

This is pretty amusing…

… and it’s an entertaining story. The humour sometimes (especially in the last half) veers a bit into sitcom territory, but that’s OK.

19:48: The End

OK, now I’m going to make dinner.

And I’m gonna cut back on ordering so much stuff from Diamonds Previews and buy more small press comics. For sure this time!

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