Comics Daze

Wow, I’ve gotten a lot of comics lately, and I’ve been busy with other things, so I haven’t had time to read them. So it’s time for another Day Of Doing Nothing Except Reading Comics. And for music today — albums from 1996 only. Because.

Oval: 94diskont

12:27: Warnebi by Wiebke Boldvan (Fieldmouse Press)

This is excellent — it’s a pretty quiet book without much drama, and it feels very true and accurate.

And it’s never obvious where it’s going, so it’s pretty exciting. Nine thumbs up.

(The translation is sometimes a bit clumsy, though.)

12:43: Voyage d’hiver by Anne Brouillard (& esperluète éditions)

This is one of those er “accordion books”? Or whatever they are called.

I.e., it’s one long painting, really, but it’s kinda sorta slightly narrative, I think: We start with these people getting on a train…

… and then I think the rest might be what they’re viewing from the train? And it ends with them arriving at a new train station.

Lovely artwork and a fun concept. And the indicia says “quatrième edition”, so it’s a big hit.

12:53: Poor Helpless Comics! by Ed Subitzky (New York Review Comics)

This looks very cool… Design by Mark Newgarden.

It’s got interviews and stuff.

Oh, wow — these are very intricate (but amusing) works. Hm… OK, I think I’m gonna bounce — this looks like something I’d rather read some late night while drinking tea, so I’m shifting it over to the magazine holder next to my reading chair. But here on my comics couch, I’m instead continuing with:

Spring Heel Jack: 68 Million Shades

13:02: Girl Juice by Benji Nate (Drawn & Quarterly)

Oops, I’ve already read this.

13:06: Holy Fools & Funny Gods by Izar Lunaček (Uncivilized Books)

I buy everything that Uncivilized release by reflex, but this doesn’t really look like my kind of thing? I mean, it’s about religion?

So this is a comics version of a scientifictic (that’s a word) book Lunaček has published.

But the language here is often very awkward. “Those that see laughter as deriding the funny”? Uhm? Lunaček is Slovenian, but there is no translator listed, so perhaps he wrote this in English himself? There’s a guy credited with “language check” and a “translation editor”…

And… I’m sure this there are people that will find this interesting, but I read about a third and then ditched it. Sorry!

13:43: Galago #162 edited by Anders Annikas (Galago)

Sweden’s oldest running comics anthology has gone to a quarterly schedule (bad news) but has doubled its size (good news), so let’s have a look at the latest new-format issue.

As usual, there’s a theme for the anthology, and this time around it’s “music”.

So in addition to the comics, we also get a few articles, like this one about album covers done by comics artists.

But it’s mostly comics.

Heh heh.

It’s a solid anthology — varied in style, but somewhat unified by the theme.

Morcheeba: Who Can You Trust?

Hm, perhaps 1996 wasn’t the best year for music…

14:12: Mini Kuš (Kuš)

Five more minis I bought from here.

Tiina Lehikoinen does a very unsettling thing about a boy with a horse head.

Emelie Östergren’s book is very ambiguous.

Michael Jordan goes on a strange odyssey.

Anna Vaivare’s book is lovely and affecting.

Jyrki Heikkinen’s book is strangely unnerving (and looks great).

Five great little books!

DJ Krush: Only the Strong Survive

14:25: Return to Eden by Paco Roca (Fantagraphics)

This starts off with 20-ish black pages. Very portentous!

As usual with Roca, this book looks like it’s excavating more of his family’s history.

This is mostly about Antonia, which I’m guessing is either Roca’s aunt or mother? Probably mother, I’m thinking.

The bits about the family are interesting and sometimes gripping, but when Roca goes into Spain’s Fascist history, the book sort of collapses, I think? And this is something I’d be interested in, but the tone here is just… off.

And, yes, it must be about Roca’s mother, because we’re told that she has a son named Paco.

Anyway, it’s a good book, really — the ending is incredibly moving.

The Black Dog: Music for Adverts (and short films)

15:28: Smoke Signal edited by Gabe Fowler (Desert Island)

Most of the recent issues of Smoke Signal have been focused on illustration more than comics, I think? Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s fun to get comics in this huge format.

Here’s Kade McClements on the dangers of small press comics publishing. Hm… is this a roman à clef kind of thing? A midwestern small press publisher (financed by selling both his kidneys) that pays in copies of comics only? I’m sure that’s not a reference to anything!

All the artists here get two pages each, which in most anthologies would have meant a pretty choppy reading experience. But since these pieces are (almost all, I think?) made with this format in mind, you get bigger stories than you’d have thought (Molly Dwyer here).

It’s just an insanely good anthology (Angela Fanche here). I’m not sure whether it’s available via mail order? Doesn’t look like it… So I guess you all have to make a pilgrimage to the Desert Island shop to pick up a copy.

16:07: Tank Tankuro by Gajo Sakamoto (Presspop)

This is fancee — it’s a very serious-looking hardback that comes in a sturdy slipcase. Hm… Oh, the slipcase is by Chris Ware. Duh!

These are comics from 1934 (I guess from the cover), and I guess I can see why the publisher went with a Ware cover instead of a cover by the featured artist. And if I want to be snide (and I always do), I could also say something about how wise it is to have the book in a tight slipcase, wrapped in plastic, so that nobody can see the insides.

Thanks for that footnote, translator! I’m sure nobody knew that.

I mean, it’s not that it’s bad… it’s pretty inventive? And for 1934, it must have been quite something.

But whenever things seem to be getting interesting (is he doing anti war agitation here?)…

… we just get One More Absurd Thing.

You know what this reminds me of? Very early Tintin — for instance Tintin au pays des Soviets from 1929: Hergé hadn’t figured out how to actually tell a story (and struggled with that for most of the next decade), so he’d just add one mad-cap humour/action scene after another until he had enough pages to call it a day. I’m assuming that Gajo Sakamoto likewise turned into a big deal later? (There’s a big essay at the end of the book, but who’s got time to read stuff like that? I’ve got comics to read!)

Paul Schütze: New Maps of Hell

16:37: A Simple Truth by Kavin Sacco (SLG Graphics)

SLG? Is that a new name for Slave Labor Graphics or something? Haven’t heard about them in decades.

The storytelling in this is really abrupt — it’s about a couple that miscarriages and then adopts a child.

But it’s hard to know how to read this book — the start of it is so filled with dread and random bad things that happen that I thought it was going to be one of those books where one gruesome thing after another was going to continue to happen, and I was waiting for the other shoe to fall when things start going better. And then it doesn’t — it’s instead… er… autobio? I mean, the dedication seems to point to it being autobio, but I don’t think it can be?

Anyway, it’s confusing on several levels.

16:56: Masters of the Nefarious by Pierre la Police (New York Review Comics)

Wow, this book is wonderful — it’s the funniest thing I’ve read in yonks. It’s like Tales Designed to Thrizzle by Michael Kupperman — it’s totally absurd.

Here’s the plot:

See? Best plot ever. And the wonderful thing about this book is that everything really kinda ties together — it’s not just one absurd thing after another, but a book that feels like a proper epic (even if it’s too short).

And he does while doing one laugh out loud silly thing after another.

A wonderful book.

Bundy K. Brown, Doug Scharin, James Warden: Directions In Music

17:18: The N* Word of God by Mark Doox (Fantagraphics)

Hey! This isn’t comics! *shakes fist in the general direction of Fantagraphics* And the artwork is, like, Photoshop collages with some additional drawing? It’s not really my thing — it’s kinda Juxtapoz-ish.

So what we’re getting here is a sort of alternate take on creation myths from the Bible and stuff, which, again, isn’t my thing at all.

But it’s pretty amusing in places.

It’s a slightly lazy book, though — when we get towards the middle of the book, there’s sometimes dozens of pages of text without any illustrations whatsoever.

Beth Orton: Trailer Park

*gasp* He’s right! I never thought of that! My god! I mean, Saint Sambo!

Sarcasm aside, it’s a more entertaining book that I thought it would be when I first opened it.

18:34: Uptight #5 by Jordan Crane (Fantagraphics)

The Mystery Mail sometimes has some really mysterious books — like this ten year old issue of Uptight.

The longest thing in the book is a chapter of Keeping II, which was collected and released to great acclaim a couple years ago.

But there’s a lot more stuff in here — a mysterious short story about a woman in a hotel room.

A mysterious longer sci fi story about some space miners.

And a shorter, but still mysterious, story about a guy floating at sea.

It’s a pretty amazing issue.

18:48: Undead by Pakito Bolino (Desert Island)

Actually, I’m not sure who the creator is here…

Another collagey book…

It’s fun, but I found it pretty disturbing by how much of this is sourced from low resolution JPEGs — there’s so much artefacting going on here that I found myself looking more at the artefacts than the collages.

Manic Street Preachers: Everything Must Go

18:59: The End

OK, that was a weird selection of books, and I think I should stop reading comics now because I’m getting annoyed, and I’m expecting whatever I’m going to read next to suck, which is the wrong attitude to have.

Might also have something to do with the music — I didn’t remember 1996 as being this uninspiring musically?

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