Comics Daze

I’ve been doing too much computering the last week, so it’s time to read some comics instead. And all albums played today comes to you courtesy of the year 2015 (because why not).

Véronique Vincent & Aksak Maboul: Ex-Futur Album

12:51: Causeway #14-17 by CF

The previous issues has mostly been narrative, but a couple of these are more sketchbook like…

But a couple of stories, too. It’s cool.

12:57: Alte Zachen by Ziggy Hanaor/Benjamin Phillips (Cicada Books)

This is an ingeniously simple little book — it’s basically the story of a kid taking his crotchety old grandmother? great grandmother? out for shopping…

… and we also get to see allusions to her reminiscences about her life — not like, huge infodumps, but the opposite — just glimpses… but glimpses that are so telling. It’s fantastic! This should be on everybody’s Comic Book of the Year lists! The artwork is so charming, it’s funny, it’s incredibly moving, and it just has that magic — it flows so well.

Jlin: Dark Energy

13:15: Fox Comics #17 & 19 edited by D. Vodicka

Some years back, I wrote a blog post about Fox Comics and how much I enjoyed it. And a few weeks back, Philip Bentley left a comment there, explaining much about Fox Comics’ history that I’d wondered about, and also offered to send me some missing issues (because they’re impossible to find).

And look what I got in the mail the other day! Thanks, Philip! Not only these two issues of Fox Comics, but also some issues of Inkspots and a book about comics in Australia!

I’ll be reading the rest a bit later, but let’s read the Fox Comics issues first, because I’ve been wanting to read these for years.

These two issues are from 87/88, which was an exciting time in comics, and these issues reflect that. (Ed Pinsent.)

Most of the pieces here are very short (many single pagers, but mostly two-three pagers). You’d think that that’d give a choppy reading experience, but there’s a really strong sense of unity here — there’s a very strong mood going on in these pages. (Michael Graham to the left and Phil Elliott to the right.)

The page to the left here (by Michael Graham) is pretty typical for the approach used by many — we get a kind of oblique little story, kinda poetic and quite mysterious. And it works!

There’s also more straightforward funny bits, but still not exactly just a joke (Lazarus Dobelsky and Ian Eddy).

Heh. Chloe Brookes-Kenworthy (on the left page there) is one of my absolute favourites. She also did a fantastic solo book… And on the right hand page, we get an appreciation from Ian Eddy of her work! Nice.

Ooh, this Dylan Horrocks/Kupe thing (at six pages, among the longest pieces) is wonderful.

Fox Comics was such a great anthology, but like most anthologies, lost to the ages… I mean, anthologies never sell much anyway, and contacting everybody to allow a reprint (even as an ebook) would be very difficult. So all this fantastic stuff is just gone, for all practical purposes.

Now I really want to read the Inkspots issues, but I think I should space these things out a bit.

Miss Kittin and The Hacker: Lost Tracks vol 1

14:20: Chef’s Kiss by Jarrett Melendez, Danica Brine and others (Oni Press)

Hm… this looks very… busy? No, I know what it is! The angles are like off everywhere? Like that hallway in the bottom right panel on the left hand page? None of those angles make sense, and the doors seem off proportionally? Perhaps the artist is going for a super-exaggerated Japanese comics perspective style, but it’s just bewildering here.

The artwork is otherwise pretty attractive.

I also found the dialogue to be awfully sitcomish, so I was thinking that’d ditch the book if it didn’t pick up soon…

And it did! It leaned into being an absurd comics version of a cooking show (with added Young Person Drama), and it’s kinda fun? That is, it mostly held my interest.

They definitely could have edited down some of the verbiage — especially in the So Much Drama pages — but it’s fine.

New Order: Music Complete

15:30: Ding Dongs hævn by Henriette Westh

I like the colours here, but the artwork doesn’t do much for me. Drawn on a computer, I guess? The line has that slightly lifeless look.

And the storytelling is just odd. Here, for instance, we apparently see her friends getting killed, and it’s just choppy as hell. (It turns out that there’s an in-story explanation for this, but that doesn’t really help when you’re reading the book.)

And the story itself is just… kinda not very satisfying — it makes no sense why Our Hero takes the time to tell The Villain the story anyway.

Joanna Newsom: Divers

15:48: World War 3 Illustrated #53 (AK Press)

This is the newest issue of this amazingly long-running anthology. There’s few others that reach these numbers… Oh, right, Š! from Kuš published their 50th issue recently…

Which reminds me: See the number on the spine there?

Andy Oliver tweeted a tip about anthologies the other day, and says that they shouldn’t be numbered. WW3 and Š! seems to be counter examples, right? And as a somebody who buys comics, I don’t think it’s good advice at all. When I’m in the shop and see an anthology, I can generally sort of remember “yes… #23 seems like a much higher number than the last one! Oh, and I’ll buy #21 and #22, too”, but if I see Zoinks: The Ketchup Issue, I’ll have absolutely no idea whether I’d already bought that, and it’s not unlikely that I’ll just skip it.

Not to mention when shopping from the couch, and I have access to My Shopping List:

These are the issues I want to buy, and if the issues only had names, I’d have no idea which ones to buy. Of course, buying back issues doesn’t really bring in money to the people who made the book (if it’s an out of print issue), so perhaps that doesn’t feature into the calculation at all..

Anyway, World War 3 Illustrated #53: My Body, Our Rights:

Those fuckers at the supreme court have brought out a lot of major name contributors to this issue. Well, OK, Sabrina Jones is in most issues…

… but not Roberta Gregory.

Elaine Schulman & Nicole Schulman have been in previous issues, I’m pretty sure, and this piece is a strunner.

Wow! Trina Robbins! This must be one of the last pieces she wrote before she died earlier this year.

Barbara Morgenstern: Beide

Most of the pieces are about how horrible things wre before abortion became legal, so it’s refreshing to read Lee Marrs’ story, which is about how we have to fight back now.

Jamie XX: In Colour

Sue Coe is, as always, correct.

Joyce Farmer!

Anyway, it’s a really solid issue. There’s a small handful of weaker pieces (strangely enough, all dealing with trans issues), but it’s solid.

And now I think I should go make dinner or something before I plotz.

17:48: La piste de Yeshe by Cosey (Forlaget Fabel)

Wow, this is the final Jonathan album — almost 50 years since it started.

And as usual, Cosey has recommendation for accompanying music, so I’ll have to halt my 2015 cavalcade and play one of these… hm… I don’t have any of those albums, but the Brian Eno one is on Youtube, so I’ll put that on.

Huh. Very atmospheric. Doesn’t bode well for Jonathan’s fate.

Oh, and there’s a print in here. For a second I thought it was signed, but it looks like it’s an er printed signature. Still, very pretty.

I’m not telling how it ends! It must have been weird doing a series like this — I mean, it was a pretty big deal in the late 70s, but rather petered out as the 80s arrived. You could see the series growing ever more out of step with the cultural environment: The 70s were big on Buddhism and Tibet and all of that, and the 80s definitely weren’t. And in addition, it just seemed more and more er condescending? to have this Jonathan guy driving around on his motorbike, fixing things for the locals.

So when Jonathan made a return in the late 90s, Jonathan was much more passive character, and even in this one, the final album, he doesn’t really do anything… but the Tibetans handle things on their own.

It’s a really good ending to a good series.

(And Cosey’s artwork is still lovely, even as it has become much more rough hewn over the years.)

AFX: Orphaned Deejay Selek 2006-08

18:22: Återvinningscentralen by Ulrika Linder (Galago)

This book was written by somebody who works at a recycling station (one of those places where people bring their recycling and has to separate things into the correct container; it’s a European thing), and she’s so so so angry at people putting things into the wrong container. It’s funny and it’s interesting.

We also get some shots of amusing stuff people have thrown away.

But mostly about how annoying people are.

Yeah, that does look more than a bit annoying, doesn’t it?

It’s a fun book, but it could have been a bit tighter — it starts getting a bit repetetive towards the middle, but then has some really amusing anecdotes towards the end.

Lamb: 5

18:57: Batman Year One by Frank Miller/David Mazzucchelli (DC Comics)

By the time this was published (late 80s, right?) I had stopped reading super-hero comic books, so I missed this one at the time. But I do like Mazzucchelli, so I bought it now.

So it’s Batman’s origin story, of course, but it’s told in a very compressed way — I think they assume that you already know everything about Batman already…

The artwork’s very good, as expected.

This book is as much about Gordon’s introduction to Gotham as Batman’s origin… Which reminds me: A friend of mine said that he’d seen Batman Shampoo in the shops, but bemoaned the lack of Conditioner Gordon.

Hey, the linework here looks more like Muñoz via Keith Giffen than Mazzucchelli.

Anyway, it’s a pretty good four issues of Batman collected here? But it doesn’t really work well as a book: The Catwoman subplot peters out, and… well, everything just peters out, really. The last issue feels like they were just going through the paces.

Tracey Thorn: SOLO: Songs and Collaborations 1982-2015 (1)

20:06: Inkspots edited by Philip Bentley, Steph Campbell and others

Oh, I assumed from the look of these that they were later than Fox Comics, but they’re before Fox Comics! The first issue here is from 1981!

Inkspots is very different from Fox Comics — it’s not only much more of a 70s book (which is natural, since it’s earlier), but it’s more into illustration and fantasy/science fiction, and Fox isn’t about that at all. (Daryl Lindquist/Steph Campbell.)

There’s other stuff, too, like this UK travelogue.

(Hm. Is my white balance off again? It’s hard with this shifting weather — it was sunny, and then rainy, and now it’s cleared up…)

(OK, that’s better.)

And there’s a smaller comic book inside the magazine, and this is the weakest part — it’s all jokey underground-like stuff, but it’s just not funny enough.

Well, this piece by Stuart Mann is very striking… but storywise it doesn’t really go anywhere much.

There’s interesting pieces here, and there’s a lot of good artwork, but there’s too many weak pieces to make it an altogether satisfying read.

Róisín Murphy: Hairless Toys

With the fourth issue, they have US distribution, it looks like, and there’s ads from Aardvark-Vanaheim, even.

This issue also has a whole bunch of text pages — mostly about comics and the state of the comics business etc.

Fil Barlow’s artwork is very accomplished. He’d go on to publish Zooniverse at Eclipse Comics, if I remember correctly?

Wow, this is striking. As with much of the artwork here, there’s definitely French influences, but melded with The Studio… like… er Moebius with Jeff Jones? Or rather Michael Kaluta? In any case, the artwork is fantastic.

It’s not all pretty 70s science fiction, though.

Anyway, very different from Fox Comics — I don’t think there’s much of a contributor overlap, either? (At least not with the two Fox Comics issues here; I haven’t checked with the rest of the issues I have.)

Telepathe: Destroyer

21:27: Det geometriske selskab by Aksel Studsgarth/Craig Frank (Afart)

The artwork hree doesn’t do anything for me…

Are the colours so ridiculously dark so that we can’t really see the linework?

Anyway, I found this pretty uninspiring, so I ditched it one third in.

21:41: The End

And perhaps that’s a sign that I’ve read enough comics for one day.

One thought on “Comics Daze”

  1. On the topic of using subtitles for standalone anthology issues in general, and WW3 Illustrated specifically, I also have to say I find subtitles do more harm than good. My own search for WW3I issues is often frustrating because some stores (mostly online, but sometimes physical stores) list the issues by their subtitles instead of the series. Or both, but not for every issue. So for each issue I’m looking for, I have to see if there’s anything under the series title, then labouriously check for each subtitled issue–if I even know what the subtitle is. That fellow’s advice seems, at best, highly situational.

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