Comics Daze

Man, it’s been a while since I did some comics readin’, and look what’s happened in the meantime:

So. Many. New. Comics.

Gotta get readin’.

The reason for my lapse is twofold — I’ve been tinkering with the search engine for magazines about comics extensively, but the main reason for that is that I’ve had a lingering cough after visiting London. And tinkering with CSS is something you can do no matter how poorly you feel.

Last week I was getting better, so I went out and saw a few live shows and stuff, and:

Yes. My very first covid. “Yay.”

But that seems to have been a very mild thing — I mean, I was really down in the dumps for a couple of days, but now I feel fine. Except for having lost my sense of smell and taste, but nobody’s ever accused me of having much taste anyway, so…

(It’s so weird, though — I had imagined losing those senses would be more dramatic; like a really noticeable huge black hole in my senses — but it’s basically “this dinner is really bland, isn’t it? Can’t really ta… Oh yeah, covid, never mind”. I’m not that … “food motivated”, anyway, but not being able to eat chocolate is a bummer. I mean, I’m able to, but there’s no point?

Anyway! Comics! I’m finally up for reading comics again! I think it’s been almost a month? Geez.

Kraftwerk: The Man Machine

10:02: Love and Rockets #14 by Gilbert & Jaime Hernandez (Fantagraphics)

Ever since I was, like, 12, I’ve had the ritual of unpacking boxes of comics and then sitting down to read them and then choosing the first one to read. It used to be Uncanny X-Men, but then it was Love & Rockets, and it still is, 40 years later.

Wowsers. Beto is doing two versions of the same “movie” at once. It’s fascinating, and especially in the second version, there seems to be echoes from the “real” story of Maria… it’s great.

And then Jaime does both Locas and Anima! It’s such a rich, dense issue — I’m totally flabbergasted. I’m floored. Amazing issue.

Tom Robinson Band: Power In The Darkness

Oh yeah, I’m only doing music from the late nineteen seventies today…

10:34: Bowser + Luigi Are In Love by Ariel Ries (Shortbox)

I got a whole bunch of stuff from Shortbox.

This is so not my kind of thing, but I thought it’d be more amusing than this?

That artwork’s fine, but it’s so under-developed — there’s gestures towards stories, but nothing really happens. But apparently people into video games find this to be super genius.

10:42: Hineko Their Only Child by Nagasaki Batten (Breakdown Press)

Oh yeah, I got a lot of stuff from Breakdown, too.

This pamphlet collects some strips from the 1920s — these were apparently the first comics in Japan that used speech bubbles.

It’s pretty interesting, but it’s not exactly a lost masterpiece, either.

Talking Heads: More Songs About Buildings and Food

10:49: Time Under Tension by M.S. Harkness (Fantagraphics)

Man, reading comics without snacking feels so weird… how long does it take to get my sense of taste back, anyway?

I think I’ve read all of Harkness’s books — the artwork and the pacing are really attractive.

This book is more structurally adventurous than most — it’s not just the skipping back and forth in chronology for the first er fifth of the book (which is a device that works really well), but also the micro-callbacks we get to previous events constantly — I mean, this book is basically “what happened the year after I left college”, which is a tried and true genre, but these things can devolve into “first this happened, and then this happened”, but this book avoids that wonderfully.

Joe Jackson: Look Sharp!

It’s also got some really fun “Inside Comics” bits… (That’s, I guess, Frank Santoro on the left-hand page there…)

Anyway, I’ve always liked Harkness, and she takes things to a totally new level here: It’s so accomplished and thoughtful. It’s got a real… mood. It’s touching, but it’s also funny, and compulsively readable. If this doesn’t land on everybody’s Best Comic Of The Year lists, there’s no justice in the world.

Blondie: Parallel Lines

12:19: I Wish I Was Stupid by Ebisu Yoshikazu (Breakdown Press)

Dreamlike comics with lots of sex and violence sure is a big genre in Japanese underground comics, eh? These dream stories are pretty masterful, though — they feel like real dreams.

And they’re funny, too.

The stories that go more in for all-out shock are perhaps less successful than the more pure dream comics? It’s a solid book anyway.

Ryuichi Sakamoto: Thousand Knives Of Ryuichi Sakamoto

13:01: Baby by Patrick Kyle (Breakdown Press)

I like this — it’s a collection on riffs on growing up (or not), I guess.

It’s funny and wistful.

13:21: Poison Pill

Didn’t I read an issue of this last time I read comics?

I think I did — it’s by these people. It’s unnumbered, though…

Uhm… this looks very familiar. Oh! It’s the same issue! But with a different cover. I guess I bought this twice…

Grace Jones: Disco (2): Fame

13:24: Mano Opuesta #1-4 by Ana Pando

These books are really enjoyable. It’s mostly quite short stories, and they usually start off with a pretty realistic premise (much of it autobio) before swerving off into bizarre and very funny situations.

It really works — it’s got an easygoing improvisational rhythm and you never know where anything is going. (It’s not perfect — sometimes things don’t go anywhere and the story just stops.)

I got the books from Domino Books. They’re a lot of fun.

14:21: The Mmuh/Doofus by Brian Warfield

These are two very brief, but intriguing books.

Somewhat allegorical, I guess, and hinting at larger things. I like them.

14:26: a9 by Tana Oshima

This is really cool. It’s a brief narrative, but told in this slightly abstract way. Very interesting.

14:29: I Am Only A Foreigner Because You Do Not Understand by L. Nichols (Secret Acres)

This is a book that feels more private than personal. There’s iconography that’s obviously important to the author (like the button eyes) that’s never really explained, for instance.

It all just feels pretty undigested.

Prince: For You

14:43: Little Tommy Lost by Cole Closser (Koyama Press)

This is kinda brilliant. It’s presented as a reprint of an old strip, and it feels really accurate. In many way. But it’s more filled with dread and horror than these things really used to be.

And as good as it is, as we get halfway through the book, it also emulates some of the faults of some of these oldee tymey strips — nothing seems to be happening, and that nothing happens again and again. That is, it feels like it’s treading water.

And it ends without us ever learning what’s really going on, which I guess makes it even more like a found object. There was never a second volume published, and my guess is that might never have been planned, either…

It’s kinda brilliant? But also frustrating.

The Police: Outlandos d’Amour

15:40: Layers by Pénélope Bagieu (First Second)

Hm… this looks familiar.

Oh! I’ve already read this. In Swedish. Gah.

15:43: Middle Distance by Mylo Choy (Selfmadehero)

This has an attractive starkness to the graphics.

It’s a very easygoing book — she’s telling you this little story about running and not running and stuff, and it’s very amiable. Towards the end, though, we veer dangerously close to self help territory, which isn’t my thing.

David Bowie: Welcome to the Blackout (Live London ’78) (1)

16:00: Fielder #1 by Kevin Huizenga (Drawn & Quarterly)

Wow, I’ve missed Huizenga, and I didn’t realise it.

This book is absolutely amazing. It’s so slippery — there’s many layers of meta, and it feels like we’re being given clues to a mystery, sort of? It’s a thrilling, engrossing read.

16:28: Visiting by Alivia Horsley (Shortbox)

This is a very sweet little book.

Charming artwork, too.

16:39: Pass the Baton by Hana Chatani (Shortbox)

This is also pretty cute, but it feels more unresolved.

Storytelling-wise, it’s really going for a certain effect, but it’s a bit clumsy and doesn’t get all the way there. But it’s cute.

David Bowie: Welcome to the Blackout (Live London ’78) (2)

16:48: Ralph Azham vol 4 by Lewis Trondheim (Super Genius)

This book collects the three final albums.

As usual, it’s and attractive (if small) book, and Trondheim does his thing. I really like his storytelling, but the thing has so much backstory — it’s basically one huge epic, and I’ve forgotten what some of this is all about. I should re-read the entire thing.

The Reasons: Hard Day at the Office

Since I can’t taste anything, I ordered in some kebab. But I tasted something! Is my tastelessness disappearing? I mean, I didn’t taste a lot, but it wasn’t the total lack of flavor I had earlier today… so does taste loss just last a couple of days? That’d be nice.

Siouxsie and the Banshees: The Scream

Trondheim delivers on the epicness of the ending, I think. It’s a really epic epic? I think if I were… fourteen? … this might have been my favourite comic book. Perhaps not EVER but at least for a while: It’s got a kind of elegiac ponderous mood while being quite funny, which is very appealing.

18:45: Boogsy by Michelle Kwon (Shortbox)

Yes, it is!

It’s a pretty fun book. I suspect there’s a metaphor lurking somewhere.

18:53: Copycat by Helen Borten (Breakdown Press)

Oops! This isn’t a comic book! Darn.

It’s pretty cute. I like the artwork. It’s all about accepting yourself as you are, but I wonder whether it’ll gonna be too simplistic even for a three year old, really.

Brian Auger & Julie Tippetts: Encore

19:00: The Great Beyond by Léa Murawiec (Drawn & Quarterly)

Nice — it’s got a cut out logo kinda thing sown into the book…

Well, this looks kinda interesting — a mish-mash of Japanese comics and 70s French pop art?

But I’m not feeling this — the character up there explains the conceit: If you don’t get enough attention, you die. So this is all a metaphor for being on Xitter, right, and going to “the great beyond” is a metaphor for deleting the app. OK, there’s some bits about celebrity culture, too, but… it’s all so tedious.

Neil Young: Comes a Time


There’s some fun art here, though, so it’s not a complete disaster, but I found the storytelling to be annoying and the story to be vapid, so:

It was named “Album of the Year 2021” by the editors of Actuabd 9and was part of the official selection of the 2022 Angoulême Festival.

19:52: To Wit by Raymond Pettibon

OK, this isn’t a comic book either.

But it was featured in the Best Of American Comics thing edited by Jonathan Lethem, and looked intriguing. And… it is! It’s really cool.

Sounds good to me.

Hm… there’s an interview by Kim Gordon (!) — didn’t read that now, but I’ll do so later.

I should call it a day, but one more book.

Joy Division: Unknown Pleasures

20:11: Good Girls Go To Hell by Tohar Sherman-Friedman (Graphic Mundi)

This artwork isn’t really my kind of thing — it kinda looks like illustrations for advertising or something?

Anyway, it seemed like this book was going to be about the author’s way out of religion — the first few bits are pretty cohesive…

… but then it all becomes pretty random — we get all these anecdotes about her life, with no discernible chronology, where characters drop and out randomly, and then suddenly one of her sisters tries to kill herself? Because… er… And then we get scenes like the above? Which seem so forced and staged that … well, OK, I believe that a 17-year-old could have brought cabbage to her grandmother’s grave (depicted on the next page), but… it’s…

It’s a very strange book, and a pretty annoying one, too.

But I like the trees.

The Clash: London Calling

20:52: The End

OK, I gotta end this daze, because I’m getting grouchy, I think.

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