Comics Daze

It’s a lazy Sunday, so even though it’s been just a few days since the last Daze, I guess I’ll just have to spend all day reading comics again. *pout* And today’s musical accompaniment comes courtesy of the year 1990.

Skinny Puppy: Too Dark Park

12:14: Tender by Beth Hetland (Fantagraphics)

Half a year ago, I was actually getting kinda worried about Fantagraphics — for instance, they had a month where they didn’t publish a single original work: It was all reprints and Disney stuff. But I guess that was just a publishing glitch — they’ve come storming back with a huge number of new comics.

This starts off like a sweet story about a pregnancy…

… but from the start, there’s something off — an unnerving disconnect, sometimes from something trivial as a weird sandwich eating habit…

… to some really horrible nightmares and stuff. (I’m not snapping a pic of the most gruesome stuff, because this is a family oriented blog, of course.)

It’s such a tense reading experience! You never know what new horrors are going to confront you on the next page, and the violence is so much more convincing for being realistic than for being over the top — small, likely wounds. And it keeps on escalating, and reading the last few pages was an ordeal.

It’s the most horrific horror comic I’ve read in years, and I’ve read Vacuum Decay.

It’s a masterfully done comic — absolutely fantastic. But hard to recommend.

12:38: Makinaphobe by Rafael Zaiats (Strangers Publishing)

This is introduced as being a fever dream about a car accident the author was in when twelve.

There’s obviously a lot of talent here, but I can’t really say that it reads much like a dream?

It’s more like video game physics or something? But I guess people dream in video games these days.

Steve Martland: Glad Day

12:58: Out of Left Field by Jonah Newman (Andrews McMeel)


Anyway, this is a pretty fun book — almost surprisingly so, I’d say. The artwork doesn’t do anything for me, but the book zips along nicely — there’s fun bits and dramatic bits — and it’s just well executed.

Some weird choices, like mangling the names of any references to real things, and somehow making them seem all… “Rings of the Lords”? OK, I guess that one’s a joke, but…

Towards the end, though, it starts feeling a bit like he didn’t quite know how to finish up the book, and we get some rather stilted scenes.

Galaxie 500: This Is Our Music

13:32: Mythologies & Apochrypha #1 by Tim Lane (Fantagraphics)

A new Tim Lane series! Wow!

The main story in this book is structured around the guy in the middle panel up there watching TV and clicking around.

So what we get is a documentary on Frank Sinatra, basically, and as someone who knows zilch about Sinatra, and who absolutely loathes talking head documentaries, you’d think this would be totally not in my wheelhouse… but it’s fascinating. I have no idea whether Lane made up the stories about Sinatra or not, and I don’t really care, because it’s riveting.

And those sharp lines! Inhuman artwork.

We also get a few fake ads and a couple shorter stories at the end. So it’s a classic one person anthology indie comic book, and I hope Lane keeps doing these.

My Bloody Valentine: Glider

13:55: Fatcop by Johnny Ryan (Fantagraphics)

I haven’t read a Johnny Ryan book in yonks, but this was pitched as a “graphic novel”, so I thought I’d give it a try.

Ryan’s stuff is usually short gross out pieces, and that’s how this book starts off, really — just a bunch of gags about Fatcop doing heinous things. Then it starts cohering into a story, and the story seems to be built around cop show clichés, and it’s actually kinda fun?

Ryan gets easily distracted, though, and keeps on dropping in these… hilarious… bits, and the storyline rather implodes. But Ryan stakes the ending.

It’s not my thing? But it’s OK.

Front Line Assembly: Caustic Grip

14:36: Club Microbe by Elise Gravel (Drawn & Quarterly)


And very edumacational.

14:41: Dinner Plates #1-2 by Stefan Sadler

This is very odd.

It uses gross outs extensively, but in a completely different way than Ryan — it’s both more absurd and more disturbing at the same time.

It’s got teenage energy, I think? Feels like that, anyway.

Massive Attack: Blue Lines

15:02: Poison City by Sophie Margolin

Oh yeah, I bought these minis from Toy Box Coffin. They’ve got an interesting range of comics.

This is a very powerful little book.

15:09: American Vortex by Carlos Gonzalez

Can’t tell me what to do! I’m reading this on the couch!

This is kinda fantastic. It’s so weird.

15:14: Low Tide 5 by CF (Paper Radio)

That is, I think this is by CF — the credits aren’t totally clear… in any case, this is a Toy Box Coffin reprint of a book that was originally published in 2001…

… so it’s before CF found his distinctive style.

But it’s weird and fun.

15:24: Antarctic Seal by Leomi Sadler

This is another reprint…

… and it’s also really weird, but compulsive. And rather unnerving.

OK, I think I should go get lunch/dinner or something… I forgot to eat dinner yesterday. And I feel like taking a walk. Be back in a bit!

Chris & Cosey: Reflection

16:39: Victory Parade by Leela Corman (Schocken Books)

Bizarre dream sequences seem to be a theme for the day…

Anyway, I find Gorman’s artwork to be thrilling — the colours, that line…

However, there’s a certain sameness about many of the characters that just makes it hard to tell them apart. Some of the sequences are pretty confusing if you can’t even tell how many characters are there are supposed to be in them, and the abruptness of the dialogue (like in the left-hand page above) makes it even more abstract.

There aren’t that many comics about women professional wrestlers from the 40’s, so that’s original…

OK, I’m griping a lot here, but I think this is a pretty special book — it’s really accomplished in many ways.

The last 40 pages feel like a separate story that’s been tacked on — to make the book long enough for publication or something? I mean, it involves one of the same characters (he was part of liberating a concentration camp), and it’s a powerful sequence, but it still feels like a non sequitur.

Cabaret Voltaire: Groovy, Laidback and Nasty

17:20: Alex et Daniel Varenne by Un tueur passe (l’Echo des Savanes)

Varenne has been one of my favourite artists since I was a child, and this is an album I’ve never read before (it hasn’t been translated).

It’s pretty late Varenne, though, so the artwork isn’t as raw and wild as before. It’s pretty mannered here, so I can see why this has remained untranslated. It’s four stories about a contract killer, and we follow his plans for assassination (which are mostly successful, and they’re all er too complicated, really).

I’m learning French, and this is not ideal for a beginner like me — they talk really thick slang, going for a 50s wise guy gangster patois, and Google Translate can’t help much with that. Still, struggling through the book like this almost makes it more enjoyable in a way — everything is slightly more mysterious (for me) than perhaps intended.

It’s minor work, really, but the mood is wonderful. I see that some French people agree with me:

Les deux frères Varenne ont vraiment tout misé sur l’atmosphère et ce n’est pas assez pour soulever mon intérêt…

Pale Saints: The Comforts of Madness

18:30: So Long Sad Love by Mirion Malle (Drawn & Quarterly)

Really attractive artwork.

This book starts at a comics festival, which is fun…

Steve Reich: Works (3): Music for Mallet Instruments, Voices and Organ – Clapping Music – Six Marimbas

… but it’s about warning signs in relationships and stuff. The refreshing thing is that things don’t go the way you expect at all! I almost thought it was going that way after that scene in the middle (you know which one) and I groaned out loudly (inside). But then it didn’t!

The last chapter (or whatever you want to call it) is pretty weird, though. It almost feels like a dream?

Anyway, it’s a captivating book.

Morrissey: Bona Drag

19:28: To Have & To Hold by Graham Chaffee (Fantagraphics)

See? So many Fantagraphics books. But this is from 2017! I missed it back then, I guess.

I’ve always liked Chaffee’s artwork — the sharp lines, the hairdos, the correct anatomy, the schlubby postures, the nice blackspotting…

… but I didn’t really enjoy this book. The book is basically a papery version of a 50s Film Noir, and as much as I like that genre, this doesn’t really bring anything new to it — it just another one, you know?

But perhaps my dissatisfaction with this is more due to how every scene seems to be written according to the tenets of How to Write a Damn Good Novel, which tells us that the point of any book or film is drama. You have to have a primary and a secondary dramatic point in every scene, and people who are into that sort of thing end up resorting to what we see above: You can’t have a single phone going off unless somebody’s in a bathtub so you can get the drama from almost missing the phone.

You can’t have cops arriving to interrogate somebody without a vicious dog almost mauling them, etc, etc, etc. Fake drama like this just gets on my tits.

Might just be me, though!

But I mean, it’s well made? If Chaffee set out to create his own pitch perfect version of a 50s Film Noir, he did that — the plot is satisfyingly convoluted, and there’s twists and an ironic (sort of) ending. So I think if you like that sort of thing, and don’t have a hangup (like me) on Too Much Drama, it’s quite likely that you’ll like this book.

Consolidated: The Myth of Rock

20:20: The End

But I think that’s it for the day. And the next few days I have to read Glamourpuss (*sigh*) so that I can finally wind up the Renegade Press & Aardvark Vanaheim blog series.

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