Eep! I got a bunch more comics, so lets start reading.
|Test Card: Patterns
12:46: Monica by Daniel Clowes (Fantagraphics)
This is, of course, the Major Publishing Event of the year, but for some reason or other, I didn’t get a copy until now from DCBS…
Like everybody else, I was a big Clowes fan in the early 90s, but unlike most people (I think), I grew disenchanted with his comics pretty soon after Eightball #10. Not that they were actually bad, or something, but I found them to be kinda … not as good as everybody were still saying that they were? And that’s continued until this day, really. So I’m not sure what my expectations for this book is: Everybody’s saying it’s the best Clowes has been since ever, which makes me even more dubious, I guess? But on the other hand, I wouldn’t really be surprised if it’s actually good?
Let’s find out.
Hey, sharp artwork. But as is often the case with Clowes, the faces are drawn so similarly that it’s hard to tell who’s who, and there’s about seven trillion characters in this book. But then again, confusion comes in handy in a book like this.
It’s basically a story about a woman trying to find her long-lost mother; slowly piecing together her past. So it’s structurally in very familiar territory — we’ve all read beaucoup de books like this. And there’s, of course, plenty of mysterious happenings and stuff.
The problem with these things is that the author has to make the reader sure that it’s worth paying attention to all the different twists and mysteries — because these narratives usually work by teasing the reader with a bunch of things that connect, and those connections make the reader go “aha!” and that’s all very satisfying, but the payoff is usually not very interesting, because the author just has a bunch of mysteries but nothing much else to say.
|Bill Callahan & Bonnie Prince Billy: Blind Date Party (2)
And we get these seemingly totally unconnected shorter stories sprinkled here and there in the book. What’s the connection!11!1
I’m happy to report that Clowes nails the ending of the book — it’s a hoot and a half, and everything is made clear. The ending is so satisfying that I laughed out loud. But on the other hand, he takes his sweet time getting there, and much of the book reads like a shaggy dog story: Several chapters are just plain boring. Basically everything to do with the cult, but perhaps that’s just me — I just find cults tedious, and Clowes’ cult isn’t particularly original.
So — is this book gonna end up on all the “best of” lists this month? My guess is yes, if Fantagraphics’ publicity dept managed to place it with all the magazines… let’s see. The Guardian, of course. WashPo, yes.
So, feeling a bit confused i went looking for answers. First i watched the cartoonist Kafabe review of the work. And though they gushed over its pages and gave glowing reviews neither of those guys seem to understand the book any better than i did. They kinda of left it at, “this book needs several more read throughs”.
The book is totally clear… there’s no mystery, is there?
I’m probably going to be in the minority on this, but I’m tired of books that prioritize a clever and groundbreaking message over readers actually understanding the message. I did like that the book challenged me to think through how all the chapters were related. Up until the last chapter, I thought I was making progress, chipping away at those connections. But then the end blew up all of those hypothesis, leaving me feeling frustrated and dumb.
There are 18 one-starred ratings on Bookreads! That’s even funnier.
Anyway, I think it’s a pretty good book — Clowes’ best since the 90s. But it’s not fantastic. It’s OK.
|Mourning [A] BLKstar: Reflections on the Passing ID (ep-secret tapes)
15:07: Wipeout and stuff
I got all these from the Wipeout store.
The largest anthology (spiral-bound; I really like the format) has all these people…
There’s a few illustrations, but it’s mostly shorter (jokey) narratives. It’s a good read, but the anthology doesn’t seem very… ambitious?
This book is by Walker Mettling, and it’s one of those fun books where the pages are sliced in two and you can construct your own monsters. Hours of fun for the entire family.
And this one folds out into one very rad sheet…
The magazine-sized Wipeout also has these fun printing flourishes, like this band thing here…
OH MY GOD HOW HORRIBLE Not Pink Floyd
And a little comic insert…
Oh, is this a Corben sci fi thing that’s been re-edited?
And one thing that folds out into a very tall comic.
Wipeout books are fun.
|Mourning [A] BLKstar: The Possible
15:34: One In A Million by Claire Lordon (Candlewick Press)
This seems like it’s becoming a mini-genre — it’s about having some obscure disease while in high school.
But this one is different — some of these books feel like they’ve been really heavily edited for maximum pedagoguery (that’s a word), possibly in the hopes that they’ll end up on the curriculum somewhere? This feels very unmediated.
It really feels like we’re hearing directly from a 17-year-old, and it’s a very moving book. It’s also unexpectedly sort of a mystery, since we don’t know what’s wrong with her at the start, or what’s going to happen to her.
It’s really good.
|Shopping: Why Choose
16:16: The Sparkle by Walker Mettling
Oh, here’s another one of the Wipeout books…
OK, so this book has little stories improvised by kids, but drawn by Mettling from his notebooks.
They’re very kid-like stories. It’s fun.
|Fontaines D.C.: Dogrel
16:35: Silence, Full Stop by Karina Shor (Street Noise Books)
Really attractive artwork.
This book starts off pretty oddly — the family moves from Moldova to Israel, and Moldova is portrayed as a pretty backwards country, and Israel not, and still there’s this rage against having to move to Israel anyway. As if it’s unfair that her schoolmates look upon her as a weirdo for having garlic in her school bag to ward off demons? It’s just an odd approach.
And much of the material feels very processed — the opposite of the One in a Million book — but there’s bits that feel very true, like the above, where she’s angry at a guy for insinuating that she’s a good kid and would never take drugs. That’s the worst thing ever!
Then halfway through, the book spirals into a maeltrom of abuse and horror, and it’s just a lot.
I don’t know. It feels very inspired by Ulli Lust? But it’s not carrying it off — it’s both too distanced and too personal at the same time, for some reason or other. It’s like… AAAAAH.
|Black Dice: Mod Prog Sic
17:39: The Audra Show by Audra Stang
Hey! Nice sketch!
I think colours are on their way back? There’s been a trend towards desaturating comics (after Nick Drnaso) over the past half decade, but hopefully it’s tapering off now…
Anyway, I’ve read most of this before, but it’s nice re-reading these comics in this collection. But the confusing thing is that it’s more confusing reading them all in one go than reading them over a few years!
But it’s a pleasant confusion. I like it.
|Dry Cleaning: Boundary Road Snacks and Drinks EP
18:22: Nap Time
I think I need a nap, though.
|Max Tundra: Remixtape
21:20: Cuckoo by Joe Sparrow (Shortbox)
I’m awake! I’m awake!
Well, this art style isn’t really my thing — the closer something looks like modern animation, the sooner my brain goes “eh nah”. But that’s just me! Billions of people prefer animation-a-like drawrings.
The plot, though — this girl gets Jean Gray’s powers from an alien, and her first thought isn’t “oo! I’ve got X-Men powers now!” but instead gets all angsty about it. I think I can speak for everybody when I say that everybody’s checked whether they have telekinesis at multiple points in their lives. But perhaps this takes place in an alternate universe where Marvel Comics never happened?
|Various: Muggy vol.1
Then we get to the normal super-hero training scenes and then Cosmic Revelations. The End.
I don’t think it works, but what do I know.
22:07: Majnun and Layla by Yann Damezin (Humanoids)
Oh deer. I there’s one genre I find unbearably tedious, it’s fairy tales, and if there’s another that’s even more unbearable, it’s “myths”, so here we have a fairy-tale kind of myth? What on Earth compelled me to buy this?
It looks kinda pretty, though.
And I gave it a fair go, but it’s indeed not my thing, and I bailed after about 30 pages.
|Brigitte Fontaine: Comme à la radio
22:22: Pebbels & The Shriekers by Moly Colleen O’Connell
This is very funny.
And it’s got an easy flow — from one absurd situation to another. It’s a good read.
And pleasantly insane. Class stuff.
22:32: Chicken Scratch by J.M.K.E. (Breakdown Press)
So this is a sketchbook collection…
|Billie Eilish: When we all fall asleep where do we go?
22:33: Red Harvest by Michael Cherkas (NBM)
Cherkas? Is that the guy who did the Silent Invasion comics etc back in the 80s? Indeed it is.
And I guess this is another comic book about the Holdor, so I’m setting my expectations to Be Depressed.
He’s developed a scratchier style over the years — it used to be really stylised. Looks pretty good. The dialogues though… nobody talks this way.
Cherkas leans into the melodrama, and if there’s something that shouldn’t need that, it’s something like the horror what’s going to happen here.
Instead Cherkas chooses to depict scenes like this — where a (Communist) father objects to a priest sneakily baptising his child in secret. It’s like… what? In comparison, the later scenes of people dying from starvation seem less dramatic, really. It’s an odd choice.
But the book’s OK, I guess.
23:25: Striking a Pose by Anita Kunz (Fantagraphics)
This is a collection of male nudes. It’s pretty straightforward…
… but she gets some jokes in.
And it even ties in with the previous book!
|The Cure: Bloodflowers
23:37: Curses by George Wylesol (Avery Hill)
This is a collection of shorter pieces.
Done in a range of different styles.
It’s good stuff.
00:11: The End
But now I think it’s time to consider going to bed.