Comics Daze

So, I’ve been Duolinguing French for half a year now, but I still can’t really er read French with any comfortable speed, so it makes no sense to start buying French comics already.

And look:

I’ve managed to not go too wild. Right? Right!

But I’ve been trying to find some comics that I can attempt, because reading actual stuff instead of the typical “I put the penguin that I got from you on top of the fridge” sentences in Duolingo is more, er, more better. Yeah. It’s more better.

I tried some children’s comics first, but they were mostly humour books, which is not ideal, because there’s too much punning that I don’t get at all. I managed to read the entire book above, written by Tardi for a radio play, but the problem was that Tardi loves using Parisian slang, so that’s not ideal, either. It took me like three hours to get through this album, abetted by Google Translate.

But I think I’ve found the ideal thing: Maurice Tillieux from the 50s — there’s some punny stuff going on, but it’s mostly straightforward action and mysteries and stuff. It easier to read things when they make sense, hein?

So I think I’m gonna get more stuff like this, and within a few years I’ll have the reading comprehension of a three-year-old boy from France in the 1950s! Whoho!

Oh, OK, I also bought a whole lot of comics by Annie Goetzinger.

ANYWAY! I’ve gotten a bunch of comics in comprehensible languages, so today is a comics readin’ day. Let’s get started.

Japan: Quiet Life

13:37: The Legens of Deerskin Dan by Jack Turnbull

This looks really nice — I live the graphical approach here.

It’s about a kid rebelling against the world being all shitty and stuff. It’s cool.

13:49: Hot to Trot by Veronica Post (Conundrum Press)

Oh yeah, I remember reading the first volume of this… er… but only vaguely. Oh right, the guy had gone to Europe to try to run away from some crime he had done in Canada, of all things.

The character design is just very confusing. The hairstyle (or lack of it), body shape and the way he dresses all seem to point to him being in his mid-60s, but he was arrested for doing graffiti, and I guess that woman (also of ambiguous age) wouldn’t be traipsing around with him if he’s 60, so I guess he’s supposed to be like what 25?

Even Walt Wallet didn’t look that staid in his 20s.

David Bowie: Lodger

Is the dog meant to be symbolic or something? They never interact with it, and they brought it from Germany to the US without anybody putting it in quarantine or anything…

Oh, finally, after a couple hundred pages, they acknowledge the dog. Once.


Anyway, I didn’t really enjoy the book.

And now I think I have to run some errands before it starts sleeting again.

Simple Minds: Empires And Dance

15:14: Tetanos

I’m guessing this is a Mexican book? There’s some text in Spanish, but almost all the comics are in English. (But many are wordless.)

The indicia is in Spanish, too, so I have no idea who did what.

Anyway, it’s pretty good — a wide array of approaches, with many of the strips leaning towards abstraction.

15:22: Internal Affairs by Mel Tow, Michael Furler & PC (Peow)

This is a printing extravaganza — wrap-around cover, metallic inks, a band, a fold-out page…

I don’t think I’ve read Internal Affairs before, and this is the tenth anniversary book, and it’s three pretty short stories — and it’s a bit inscrutable.

The second story is pretty self-contained, though, and goes all out.

The third story is incomprehensible (to me, who knows nothing about these characters). So I guess this book just isn’t for me…

15:43: Looking for the Cat by Matthew Thurber

This is a very brief book — I guess there’s only ten story pages? And it’s a kind of improvised shaggy dog story, but it’s really compelling. More, please.

Vinicius Cantuária: Tucumã

15:52: Freak 11 by

This book is printed on really thick, matte paper. It’s nice. (Yasmeen Abedifard.)

The art styles are varied, but there is a kind of unified feel going through most of the pieces — it’s mostly kinda distracted vignettes, if that makes sense. (Daniel Zhou.)

But some are pretty intense. (Jonathan McBurnie.)

Hey! Inside Comics by Angela Fanche!

It’s a really attractive anthology — not a single dud, and some very interesting pieces.

16:12: Swamp Parade, Heel of the Shovel & Playbill by Steven Arnold and Michael Kamison

I bought a whole bunch of comics from these guys after reading one of theirs the last time around (I think), so let’s read er four of them.

The first book is a kinda-sorta metaphorical play thing. It’s fun.

The second book is varied storytelling wise, but has a very consistent mood.

It’s hypnotic.

Heel on the Shovel is a three volume story, and it’s insanely ambitious. The obvious touchstone is Daniel Clowes, and er I’m afraid I don’t think they pulled it off.

The Notwist: Neon Golden

There’s a lot of interesting bits here, but the tone is uncertain. Most of the time it seems like they’re going for real pathos, but then there are things that just seem like offhand jokes (especially in the more Franksteinian sections).

If I google things correctly, the second volume was done in 2018, and the third and final volume has never been published. So perhaps they lost faith in the book as well? Because it’s really creaking under its own weight.

David Bowie: Station to Station

18:05: Tales of the City by Isabelle Bauthian/Sandrine Revel (Ablaze)

I don’t know what the Ablaze people are doing… I mean, they’re a pretty new company, aren’t they? Or at least I seem to have discovered them recently. And they’re doing a lot of translations of French comics, and they publish them all in the wrong form factor (and shrink them down to boot). Those huge top/bottom margins and the almost nonexistent gutters look fugly, and makes for uncomfortable reading to boot, since you have to keep bending the book.

Ablaze, you can do better.

Arto Lindsay: Mundo Civilizado

The artwork is certainly attractive.

But this book is a total mess. I’ve read the original series, and even so, this book was borderline incomprehensible. There’s so many characters, and so many of them look similar… I think this book basically covers the first Maupin novel (well, collected serial), and it’s a short novel, but even so it feels like we’re fast-forwarding through the novel; just getting glimpses. The Maupin series wasn’t well-written or anything, but it did have a real mood going, and this doesn’t have that either. The only thing this has going for it is the artwork. What a shame.

19:15: Stray by Molly Mendoza (Bulgilhan Press)

Again, the artwork is attractive…

… and the story is certainly intense, but I dunno. Perhaps it’s just my annoyance with the previous book carrying over, but I just couldn’t get into this one.

Sandy Denny: The North Star Grassman and the Ravens

19:27: Far Distant by A Liang Chan (Bulgilhan Press)

This has a good mood going on.

And very mysterious. Good stuff, if very brief.

19:33: Highlands by Philippe Aymond (Cinebook)

Wow, this looks pretty turgid…

But it’s not as bad as all that. Once it gets going, it’s not totally without charm. But it gets pretty annoying after a while, despite the nice scenery.

Japan: Oil On Canvas (2)

19:58: The End

Well, OK, that was too many bad comics in one day, so I have to call it a day, even though I’ve only been reading comics for what six hours? I mean, there were good comics, too, but…

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