Comics Daze

I’ve been doing French on Duolingo for half a year now, so I can’t read French yet. But it’s becoming harder and harder to hold back on shopping French comic, because soon… soon! Well, in half a year, perhaps? I’ll be able to read them!

Oops! Look what I did.

I’ve actually been reading Modeste et Pompon by Franquin — it’s for kids, so the language isn’t very complicated. I’m about halfway through, but even comics for kids are too hard for me, really, so I definitely shouldn’t be buying comics for adults.

But what! Oops.

Yeah, I can’t read that. I’m getting like every other word… Duolingo is more into doing grammar and stuff, which makes sense — if you can’t even tell what a construction like “tu ne manges que des pommes” is supposed to be parsed (“you only eat apples”), it doesn’t help to learn three thousand verbs and nouns. But I’m hoping the next few months will give me a larger vocabulary.

But these French books sure look nice.

Like this huge, heavy Comès book.

So gorgeous.

Hm… hey! I can actually read most of what’s on these two pages! Perhaps I should just start reading? Or perhaps not, because I got a whole bunch of non-French language comics the past couple of weeks, so let’s start reading.

Emma Tricca: Aspirin Sun

13:39: Oglaf Book Four by Doug Bayne and Trudy Cooper

I started reading this a couple days ago, so I just have the last quarter left to read. Oglaf can get a bit exhausting to read in book form.

As usually, it’s totally hilarious.

It’s exquisitely stupid — it’s just amazing. Get it from here.

14:01: We Will No Longer Have To Cover Each Other’s Wounds by Siyuan Wen (Fieldmouse Press)

I’m guessing this will be less funny than Oglaf. Just going by the title.

Yes, I was right. Instead this goes way, way into deep grief — it’s about a guy coming to terms with the death of his mother.

Everything is pretty vague and there’s symbolic things here that I’m not quite sure I totally get, but it’s a fascinating book. And quite affecting.

Oneohtrix Point Never: Again

14:20: Their Use Continues, Little Visitor and A Cordial Invitation by Adam Szym

I got these from here

Heh heh. The first one is a very sly satire on Hollywood — it’s not clear at all what’s going on at first, what with the wobbly tenses and fractured storytelling and all — but then everything snaps into focus at the end. Great fun! (And biting satire, as they say.)

The second book is also about movies, and has a similar storytelling approach — that is, it’s not quite clear what’s going on, and there’s a reveal, but it’s a bit more straightforward. It’s spooky and it’s thrilling.

The final book, A Cordial Invitation, is properly scary.

In addition to being all mysterious and scary, it manages to stake the landing, which is really unusual for this kind of stuff. Great stuff.

15:11: Convoy by Molly Stocks (Breakdown Press)

Oh, gorgeous.

This story is both very sweet and deeply unnerving. Fantastic — absolutely original and riveting.

Nihiloxica: Source of Denial

15:20: Mauretania Comics #4, 5 & 11 by Chris Reynolds and others

Much (most?) in this series has been reprinted in various collections, but I’ve still been doing periodical ebay searches for the series. And this time around, I managed to score three issues! (One from the US and two from the Netherlands!)

The stories here have such a vibe… everything is mysterious and little is explained.

And the series isn’t just Chris Reynolds — here’s Paul Harvey, who’s doing scratchier art, but just as mysterious little vignettes. (Funny, though.)

And Trevs Phoenix doing the artwork on this thing…

And of course Carol Swain, who’s in most of the issues, I think.

Like I said, much has been reprinted, but reading the original issues is really satisfying — they have such an unique mood. Everything fits together, but in a playful way. Somebody should just reprint the series as it was instead of picking bits from it. (But that’ll never happen.)

So now I only have three more issues to go before I’ve read all the issues. I still haven’t found #1-3. I guess I’ll check back with ebay next year.

Wow, I’ve been really lucky with the comics today — everything so far has been fantastic. To avoid getting over excited, I should read some mainstream book now.

Pale Saints: In Ribbons (1)

16:06: Monstress vol 8 by Marjorie Liu/Sana Takeda (Image Comics)

Such large heads…

Anyway, this volume isn’t as confusing as most of them have been, even though it’s been years since the last one? Hasn’t it? Or am I even more confused than normally? I mean, the plot until now has mostly been that huge war with a gazillion characters, which I think ended a couple years ago? But now we’re on a different planet and there’s less than a dozen characters, so it’s all much simpler.

Pale Saints: In Ribbons (2)

There’s a reason this series keeps on winning all the mainstream rewards — it’s really full on intense 100% of the time, and it’s pretty entertaining. The main storytelling schtick is to have something weird happen for a couple of pages, and then the characters stand around explaining what happened for twenty pages. It shouldn’t work, but it does. It the power of confusion.

Emma Anderson: Pearlies

17:26: Stories from Zoo by Anand (Bubbles)

The art style here doesn’t really do much for me, but some of these stories are really fascinating.

About a third of them don’t really go anywhere, but the rest are really good.

Various: In The Light Of Time

18:29: Cartoonshow by Derek M Balland (Oni Press)

This is about a single parent of three and his travails, and it’s sorta kinda structured around an imaginary laugh track — that is, you see the “ha ha ha” in the background sometimes, and there’s generally some kind of punchline.

That’s works well in many of these strips, but it sometimes leaves you wondering whether the thing that’s depicted really happened — like this woman taking “kafkaesque” for a swear word…

… or this er happening? I mean, I don’t doubt that it could have happened, but I’m not totally sure whether Ballard is saying it happened or that he’s exaggerating for comedic effect.

Anyway, I think the first half of this book is really good — there’s generally pretty short strips, but there’s longer strips to break up that rhythm, and there’s also a general feeling of things building up to a greater story. And then the last half is just random short strips, which is a let-down. It could just be a sequencing problem? Perhaps the strips could have been distributed in a different way? For instance, ending on the strip where he got the restraining order or something. OK, OK, I’m being oddly excessively nit-picky here, and I’m not sure why. It’s a good book.

Vanishing Twin: Afternoon X

19:31: Pigall, 1950 by Arroyo / Christin (Forlaget Zoom)

What? A French comic? Yes, but in a Danish translation. And… I’ve started thinking “but I’ll be able to read this in the original Greek in just a year! so why buy it translated!”, but then I come to my senses and thing “but if you buy this now, you’ll be able to read it now”. Which makes more sense.

Well, this is a very French(ey) book… I mean, the art style is the “standard French serious drama” style. And they’ve even gone all sepia in the colouring to underline that it’s a serious drama. I find this style to be stupefyingly dull.

Which makes this a chore to read, but the story isn’t that exciting, either. I guess you could say that it’s pretty untypical, at least — the viewpoint character doesn’t really do much, and while the events are dramatic, they don’t really add up to much.

Co-Pilot: Rotate

20:25: Cicadas edited by Riley Gale

Wow, these colours really pop. This is printed on pleasant, matte paper, but the colours are really vibrant, and the linework is so accurate. I don’t know who printed this, but publishers should hire them to print more comics.

(This is by Stathis Tsemberlidis.)

This anthology is a bit uneven — apparently the editor died in the middle, so it was put together by his friends. Many of the pieces are really inconsequential — brief vignettes that don’t go anywhere. This Josh Bayer strip (discussing S. Clay Wilson) is wonderful, though.

Ooo! Marc Bell! My favourite. Unfortunately, it’s just three pages.

See what I said about the printing? (Anya Davidson.)

And then it gets really creepy! By Josh Simmons, of course.

The good stuff in here outweighs the bad stuff, but it makes for choppy reading.

Irreversible Entanglements: Protect Your Light

20:59: Shelter for Lost Dreams by Alfonso Font (Dark Horse Comics)

Oh, is this some kind of Harry Potter ripoff?

Well, perhaps not, but it’s kinda really totally boring, so I’m ditching it.

21:06: The Hard Switch by Owen D. Pomery (Avery Hill)

Wow, this artwork is really attractive. It gives me early 80s vibes… like… Wininger line work and… Matt Howarth’s designs?

And it’s a really interesting science fiction book. It’s got a well-developed world, the characters are interesting, and the plot is exciting. It’s just a really, really solid book.

Kristin Hersh: Clear Pond Road

21:42: Threshold by R. R. Gladnick (Bulgilhan Press)

Oh yeah, I bought a handful of books from Bilgilhan.

This is a very metaphorical little book.

It’s inventively told.

21:47: Faster by Jesse Lonegan (Bulgilhan Press)

This is a lot of fun.

Lonegan has really nailed how to do a comic book about race cars. This is even more exciting than Michel Vaillant!

OK, I’m fading, but one more.

Robbie Avenaim, Chris Abrahams, Oren Ambarchi: Placelessness

21:54: Rubine: Midway by Mythic/Sano/Walthéry (Forlaget Zoom)

This is pretty standard stuff..

… but it’s mildly entertaining.

Radian: Distorted Rooms

22:37: The End

And now it’s time to call it a night.

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