Comics Daze

I was thinking about going to Oslo Comics Expo and buy some small press stuff, but it’s really pouring outside… or it was five minutes ago, and now it’s sunny!?

OK, we’ll see — I may suddenly disappear. But in any case, today seems like a good day for reading comics, so let’s get started. And for today’s music: Albums from 1987 only.

Cabaret Voltaire: Code

12:32: Spiral & Other Stories by Aidan Koch (New York Review Comics)

And I gotta read comics today, because I got a whole bunch of comics yesterday that I absolutely have to read right away. And this book is rather an event, eh? Most anticipated book of the year or something? At least by me — so much of what Koch has published has been in minuscule quantities, and I haven’t been able to score a copy. This apparently collects a whole bunch of that stuff, if I understand correctly.

I didn’t! I mean, understand correctly — this is all newer work (from the last four years). The first (and longest) piece has been published in French before, and there’s one Mini Kuš, and the rest is new. So Koch’s earlier work is still uncollected…

But as expected, this is wonderful work. It’s a bit like an Éric Rohmer film in that it’s not quite obvious what it’s going to be about for a while.

Lovely artwork, and the storytelling has a really pleasant way of flowing.

David Sylvian: Secrets of the Beehive

12:59: Love and Rockets #15 by Gilbert & Jaime Hernandez (Fantagraphics)

What? Luba was abducted by UFOs? Sometimes I feel like Beto is gaslighting the readers — dropping in some new backstory as if it’s something we’ve always known… but this time around, the entire story seems to be about memory? The characters keep commenting on how it’s impossible to remember who other characters are, because they’re changing the way they look, and there’s two characters with the same name, and on and on. It’s a bewildering read, in all the best ways. It makes me want to go back and re-read all of the Palomar saga yet again.

Aww, poor Tonta. Jamie’s half of the issue is half Princess Anima (etc) and half Hoppers, and they’re both amazing.

It’s a fantastic issue.

13:24: The Bonito City Tragedy by Rick Geary

Ah, yeah, I kickstarterered this, so there’s extra stuff in here.

Geary draws the best objects.

Oh, wow! An original page! I don’t really buy a lot of comics pages, and I’m not sure why — I’m not really into illustration, but into reading comics, so it doesn’t really occur to me a lot? But this is nifty — just a teensy bit of white-out on the shirt…

Anyway, as usual with Geary, the book is about a historical murder — this time around, about a mysterious massacre.

Hey, that’s the page I have! Geary draws just a bit larger than reproduced, which is kinda amazing.

It’s a good book, if a bit on the brief side — but then again, I always want more Geary; I’ve been a fan since the 80s.

Prince: Sign ‘O’ The Times (1)

13:50: Peep #1 by Sammy Harkham & Steven Weissman (Brain Dead)

I got this big magazine from here

Wow, what a line-up. Makes me wonder why this isn’t an issue of Kramer’s Ergot instead? When I read that Harkham was doing a new anthology, I assumed that it was perhaps going to be more, er, low key, but this is an all-star lineup, and it’s a huge book (kinda like Raw Magazine? but wider, I think).

Most of the pieces are three pages long, like this one from Vanessa Davis.

OK, pet peeve time — for most of these pieces, it’s obvious who’s doing them (Gabrielle Bell to the right), but there’s no credits here, so I have to flip back and forth for many pieces… and the one to the left turns out to be by Art Spiegelman!

Anyway… this anthology is amazing! It doesn’t really have a theme, and the artists are really varied — we’ve got a few from the Raw Magazine cohort, a few people from the 2d cloud cohort (etc), and several up and coming artists. It’s a total joy to read.

What a way to start the day — four absolute bangers. And it still hasn’t started raining again, so perhaps I should toodle off to the the Comics Expo anyway and pick up more comics? Yeah, I need more comics.

Eurythmics: Savage

15:06: Promenade

OK, a quick shower, comics appropriate t-shirt and a backpack to carry purchases. And we’re off.

The market thing took place in this tent, which is smart (yes, it started raining again).

And it was pretty packed?

Lots of people selling stuff and lots of people apparently buying stuff.

The haul! OK, it was all I could fit into my backpack, so I had to stop shopping a bit before I reached the final table.

16:57: Marg magasin 1 by Ronny Haugland

This comic is mostly reprints of gags previously published on Facebook, apparently. There’s some really good gags here, but it doesn’t really make for a satisfying read…

But then there a long and pretty amusing story here, too, so it’s all good.

The Smiths: Strangeways, Here We Come

17:15: Uttrykk deg selv by Tim Ng Tvedt (Jippi forlag)

I’ve got at least two other book by Tim Ng Tvedt, and they’re all pretty abstract.

This one is even more so. Really cool, though.

17:24: The Starsip/Fluff by Mari-Helene Hvalbye

I really like the artwork.

Starship also has a pretty vague story, but is oddly compelling.

17:30: Nameless by Hella Brandal

Again, really attractive artwork.

And it’s really funny! Not only that, but it has a classic amusing plot. Definitely an artist to watch.

Bel Kanto: White-out conditions

17:42: Uppvaknanden by Juliette Mancini (Lystring)

There were a number of Swedish publishers and creators present, too.

This starts off really interesting…

… with an original approach to doing the artwork and stuff. But it’s pretty one note? It feels awfully unresolved and undigested.

Sussan Deyhim & Richard Horowitz: Desert Equations: Azax Attra

18:00: Mye onsdag og litt helg by Inga Sætre (Jippi forlag)

This is a collection of strips that have basically one schtick: Two grouchy women, grouching about annoying people and things.

And it works! It’s funny and smart.

But I think I need a nap now.

Pet Shop Boys: Actually

20:23: Self-Esteem and the End of the World by Luke Healy (Drawn & Quarterly)

I’m awake! I’m awake!

This book is pretty oddly structured. And meta (as Healy has one of the characters comment on) — but basically, it’s about a character called Luke Healy, and it seems like an exaggerated take on something that might be autobio, really.

But then things go off in a more whimsical direction…

… and then we keep skipping five years into the future, and get a story at each stopping point.

So it ends up feeling like a collection of four separate stories featuring the same characters (well, ok, five with the appendix), and I just started feeling a bit impatient with it all. There’s things that are hugely successful (like the bickering cops in the hotel section, the seagulls, and flooded LA above), but all in all it feels a bit… “vapid” is too strong a word? Yeah. But…

Pieter Nooten & Michael Brook: Sleeps With The Fishes

22:02: Monster Crime by Johnny Damm

I got this from here.

Damm’s previous comics have been about police violence, mostly, but this one is about that incredible lie that retail corporations were spreading starting in 2020 about organised shoplifting.

So we get a whole bunch of actual quotes from these assholes set to pictures from old horror comics. It’s fun for the whole family.

Tuxedomoon: You

22:11: Good by Flux & David Good (NBM)

That’s a really er unique way of drawing people — everybody has an extra outline?

In the US everything is in black and while and in the jungle everything is paradise.

Flux’ artwork isn’t really up to conveying scenes like this — I’m guessing it’s heavily based on pictures, so they’re as convincing as his models. And on the right-hand page the father goes from “give me smarm!” to “give me d’oh!”, and neither are successful.

I’m guessing this is a true story (you never know these days), and Good certainly has a pretty unique story to tell: He’s the son of an man from the US and a woman from the Amazon Forest, and his mother abandoned her family apparently because she was fed up with living in the US half of the year.

The book is both overly digested and unexamined at the same time: We get the story of David’s bout with alcoholism, with the reasons behind it being the most pat imaginable. And we never really get a glimpse into the mother’s real reasons for leaving (was it just because she couldn’t deal with living in the US?). It’s all surface, and after a while it starts becoming really grating.

The most alien thing about the book isn’t the author being born in the Amazons, but scenes like the above from US child rearing: David (who here is 14-15 years old), snuck out to be with his girlfriend, and when he’s found out, his father forbids him from ever seeing her again. This is just so loopy that I thought we’d get a later reveal showing the father to be clinically insane or something, and that’s the reason the mother left, but no — this is apparently something an American parent is supposed to be able to do?

It’s a distressing book, but not for the reasons the author wants it to be.

Steven Brown: Searching For Contact

22:58: Hexagon Bridge by Richard Blake (Image Comics)

I bought this because I liked the cover design, and I thought it was time that I tried some science fiction from Image Comics again — some of those series are pretty good.

Well, this starts well — not much exposition, but just dropping us into it all.

But then we get 50 pages of characters infodumping at each other…

… before we go to a world with all the complexity of a shoddy video game.

Basically nothing of interest happens, but it looks quite nice.

Jane Siberry: The Walking

23:21: Louis Undercover by Fanny Britt/Isabelle Arsenault (Groundwood Books)

I bought this because I read an excerpt from it in the er 2017 Best American Comics book a few weeks ago.

It’s about growing up…

… and all that stuff, and it’s absolutely wonderful. Great artwork, good dialogue, a plot that doesn’t quite go where you expect. It’s funny and it’s moving.

23:55: The End

So I think I’ll end this day of comics reading (and shopping) on a high note.

But that was a day of many excellent comics, man.

2 thoughts on “Comics Daze”

    1. No, I don’t think so. And I didn’t see the book at the fest, either, but I jogged through quite fast…

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