The Best Comics of 2019

When reading comics, the ones that seem particularly interesting end up in this little shelf in the living room that I can then sit and ponder.

I meant to do this blog post at least a month ago, but time flies, so here goes. And I don’t have time tonight to write anything insightful (hah! as if), so just a list and some snaps, OK?

House of the Black Spot by Ben Sears (Koyama)

There’s been so many comics in the past few years drawn in styles similar to this, and I’m rather fed up with it. Especially since it’s a signal that the book is coming from a video game/TV cartoon kind of place, and I have no interest in that.

But I bought it anyway, since it’s on Koyama, and it’s is funny and intriguing. It’s got a real mystery plot and everything.

Strange Growths 16 1/2 by Jenny Zervakis

Spit and a Half did a compilation of her comics, and it was amazeballs. This is one is somehow slight and heavy at the same time.

Guts by Raina Telgemeier (Scholastic)

Yeah, yeah, I know, but I really enjoyed this. It’s a peek into a totally different psyche. She sort of made me understand what it’s like to feel like the character in the book, and that’s something. Besides, it just reads so well. It’s almost transparent. You have to wonder what the comics made by people growing up with her comics are going to look like. They should start arriving in… five years time?

Non 7 edited by Eric Reynolds (Fantagraphics)

I think Non is as close as we get to an anthology that defines comics in 2019. I don’t think there’s a dud in this issue, and it’s got a great mix of longer and shorter pieces. Still hate the shiny, thin paper.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #50 by Ryan North, Derek Charm, Erika Henderson and people (Marvel)

They totally spiked the landing on this one. I laughed, I cried. Wish there had been 50 more issues.

You Don’t Get There From Here #48 by Carrie McNinch

The regular issues (with the one-strip-per-day) are kinda hypnotic, but this special issue about her trip to Japan is a lot of fun.

The Death of the Master by Patrick Kyle (Koyama)

This one annoyed me for some reason I can’t remember now, but I also remember being drawn into the rhythm of the book. You sit there flipping and flipping and flipping the pages and it’s just this thing.

The Hard Tomorrow by Eleanor Davis (Drawn & Quarterly)

I love Eleanor Davis, and in particular her previous (I think?) thing; that biking thing? That was awesome. This isn’t that awesome, but the artwork is gorgeous and the storytelling goes against the grain, but on purpose. Which is interesting.

Are You Listening? by Tillie Walden (First Second)

Since it’s on First Second, I was totally prepared to hate it, but it’s kinda great? Her best work yet? Somewhat randomly, what I remember most about this book is the colouring: Those blotches everywhere fascinate me.

Hot Comb by Ebony Flowers (Drawn & Quarterly)

This comic seems to arrive out of a alternate, much better timeline, where Carol Tyler is the touchstone from whence comics sprang. I love the artwork, and I was just fascinated, every page, by the stories and anecdotes being told.

Blood and Drugs by Lance Ward (Birdcage Bottom Books)

This has the rattiest drawing I’ve seen in quite a while, but there’s an in-story explanation for the style. I have absolutely no idea whether anything in the book is true, and perhaps it has a bit too much story-like structure to be true, but it doesn’t make much difference: This is gripping.

Pittburgh by Frank Santoro (New York Review Books)

Wasn’t this released in 2019? The indicia says “2018” and that’s when it was originally released in France, but didn’t this edition arrive in 2019? Anyway, it’s Santoro’s best work. I was really disappointed by his previous book (the Pompeii one), but this is just about perfect. This could totally have read as a private project of interest to nobody, but instead it’s a person project of interest to all.

Tongues #3 by Anders Nilsen (Fantagraphics)

Nobody makes comics like Nilsen. The mundane and the extraordinary exist on the same plane. (And look at those colours. Just look at them.) And the plot here is mystifying and intricate. I love the materiality of the comic, too. It’s just so pleasant to hold and read.

Glenn Ganges in The River at Night by Kevin Huizenga (Fantagraphics)

Everybody has this on their “best of 2019” lists, right? It’s still good, though. I love Huizenga’s deceptively digressive style, working on the same points over and over and diverging and then coming together into something unexpectedly weighty. And it’s just compulsively readable.

OK, that’s it for 2019? I read a ton of comics last year, but not a lot of the new stuff made an impression on me… or perhaps I just forgot to read some stuff. Because I did read a bunch of great stuff from 2018 (and before), so I may just have missed stuff…

Speaking of which, here’s older stuff that I liked:

Never in a Million Years by Cole Johnson

This is super cute. Yes, it screams “young person’s comic”, but it’s a good read.

Greenhouse by Debbie Fong (Pommo Press)

This one starts off innocently enough and then grows progressively weirder while everything seems normal. I love all the objects in the book.

Gustave Flaubert Trois Contes by Christopher Adams (2d cloud)

What 2019 needed was 2d cloud; in previous years they’ve been the ones to publish the most interesting books. But they’re more or less defunct now? I ordered a bunch of their early minis, and they didn’t disappoint. The storytelling here is like nothing else.

Fowl Weather by Rachel Katz and Stephanie Davidson (Pyrite Press)

Love the clean, slightly abstract artwork. The story, building up from unnerving little details into a whole thing is spiffy, too.

Malarkey #2 by November Garcia

I love Garcia, and these perhaps-autobio-perhaps-fiction little vignettes pack so much into so little space.

I Love You by Sara Lautman (Retrofit/Big Planet)

Was this the best comic I read in 2019? I think it may have been, flipping through the pages now? Impeccable comedic timing and a feeling that everything is all too real.

Alack Sinner: The Age of Disenchantment by Muñoz and Sampayo (IDW)

On the other hand, here’s 300 further pages of Alack Sinner, and is anything better than reading pages drawn by Muñoz? IDW has published a lot of nonsense, but they can do no wrong for me now after publishing the two Alack Sinner volumes.

Parallel Lives by Oliver Schrauwen (Fantagraphics)

Perhaps Schrauwen is taking the piss, but reading this book is quite an experience.

The New World by Chris Reynolds (New York Review Comics)

Finally a comprehensive reprinting of the Chris Reynolds bits from Mauretania. All together like this they do lose some of the mystery that comes from having read only half the installations before, but it’s still wonderful.

One Dirty Tree by Noah van Sciver (Uncivilized)

I have no idea how I missed this when it was published. I usually buy everything Uncivilized publishes, and I’m a Noah van Sciver fan (you always have to have the first name there when typing “van Sciver fan”), but still… Anyway, this is a harsher look at his childhood than I would have expected. It does work, though: The back-and-forth between Noah van Sciver now and his childhood mediates things somewhat.

New Construction by Sam Alden (Uncivilized)

I must have read this before, but I re-bought it by accident? I think? Anyway, the artwork is fabulous, and the first story is perfect. The second story reads like the script to an indie movie.

The Artist by Anna Haifisch (Breakdown)

Post-DeForge? Yup. But funny and affecting and original.

Retrograde Orbit by Kristyna Baczynski (Avery Hill)

Yes, it sometimes is a bit stilted and stiff and reads like something from a movie, but there are other moments that make up for that, and we end up with a really affecting story.

All the Answers by Michael Kupperman (Gallery 13)

Kupperman’s comics in the 90s and the first decade of the 2000s were the funniest comics ever made. This isn’t that, and when I read about the somewhat high concept here (it’s basically a biography of his father who was a childhood star) my expectations were very low. But it’s fascinating to read how Kupperman tries to understand his father, and the story of the fame thing itself is interesting.

Chlorine Gardens by Keiler Roberts (Koyama)

As usual from Roberts, these are short vignettes about her home life. Most of the anecdotes can be classified as “aww, cute”, but the cumulative effect is… almost… savage. It’s weird.

OK, that’s it. Took less time than I thought, and now I can go back to the stuff I really really have to do AARGH

Totally Epic

I don’t really have time for this, but I’ve started blogging about yet another 80s comics publisher: Epic Comics.

Or rather “publisher”: It’s an imprint of Marvel Comics, but was initially running as a somewhat separate entity within the Marvel offices.

Don’t expect very frequent posts. Or at least not to begin with, as the initial batch of things Epic published included series that went on for quite a while, which means that I have to read thousands of pages to blog about them.

But if you’re interested: Here’s the link to the Totally Epic blog.

Comics Cavalcade Day 12

Look at that pitiful selection of comics remaining! Will this be the day when I finally conquer the Window Sill Of Too Many Comics?

Let’s find out, and as usual: No reviews.

The Structure is Rotten, Comrade by Viken Berberian and Yann Kebbi (Fantagraphics)

This is a pretty odd book. The authors seem to want to say something about the demolition of old architecture (I think), but do it mostly through really weak jokes and so many layers of irony that it’s… just… odd.

Perhaps one of the problem is that some of these jokes don’t really translate so well.

Anyway, the artwork is rather spiffy.

OK, I snickered at that one. And I liked the constant wrecking balls in the skyline.

Heavy Metal #291 & 292 allegedly edited by Grant Morrison

A couple of years ago, I signed up for a Heavy Metal subscription. It’s nice getting stuff in the mail, right? Unfortunately, the contents of the magazine wasn’t very… good… so I was going to drop it.

And then Grant Morrison took over as the editor (sure) and I renewed the subscription, because I was curious as to how that was going to turn out.

And there wasn’t a big change: It’s still mostly vaguely 70s sci-fi, but kinda missing something.

Some older creators (like Richard Corben), but also a lot of younger ones. (Geez, look at that character design…)

Like Ed Luce. Unfortunately, it seems like everybody is pretty much conforming to the Heavy Metal template. It does mean that it’s pretty coherent as a reading experience, but it’s also so… samey…

Perhaps Enki Bilal is the biggest attraction here, which may explain why they’re serialising him at a totally glacial pace. It’s like six pages every issue from a very long story, so virtually nothing happens per issue.

It’s very pretty, though.

Hey! Gerhard!

There’s also a lot of “artist galleries” in here. It’s mostly comics-adjacent illustration, though.

Wow. A rare experimental piece by the editor and Rian Hughes.

Anyway, I let the subscription lapse.

Anti-Gone by Connor Willumsen (Koyama)

Yeah, yeah, I’m the last person in the world to read this book, which was The Official Best Comic of 2017, if I remember correctly.

As usual with Koyama, the feel of the book is excellent. But I’m somewhat nonplussed with how this got so much attention at the time. I mean, it’s good, and it’s exciting to see a new talent stretching, but…

… it’s basically a story about two young people getting stoned.

I guess that’s as universal experience there is, and it’s satisfyingly unnerving, but…

The artwork’s cute.

Willumsen’s piece in the newest Kramers was much stronger, I think.

Krazy + Ignatz: Inna Yott on the Muddy Geranium by George Herriman (Eclipse)

When I did the Eclipse blog thing I read all the rest of the Krazy + Ignatz volumes Eclipse published way back when, but this volume took about a year to arrive. So I’m reading it now.

It is, as usual, totally fantastic. And it’s a miracle that Hearst managed to force as many editors as he did into carrying it.

Mmmm… pancakes… I should make pancakes. Be right back.

Mmm… pancakes…

Tempo vol 25 (Egmont)

Hey, didn’t I just read one of these? *bing* Oh, right, they’re no longer publishing these nostalgic collections of action series for boys quarterly: They’ve stepped up to bi-monthly, which either means that it’s selling better, or that it’s selling worse and they’re trying to step up the pace and sell more to a diminishing audience before they all cancel their subscriptions?

I don’t know!

Anyway, it’s a standard mix of action stuff with more action stuff. The Bruno Brazil thing by Louis Albert/William Vance is pretty good: Vance’s noodly, dynamic and sharp artwork holds the attention.

The same can’t be said about this Ringo album, drawn by, er, William Vance. But five years earlier! 1968. It’s about a northern and a southern soldier teaming up. Sort of. I guess you could charitably describe the approach Vance takes here as chiaroscuro, but I think it’s probably just sloppy.

And finally, a Michel Vaillant short by Jean Graton. VROAROOA VROOAM! Everything a boy needs.

Father and Son by E. O. Plauen (New York Review Comics)

This kind of gag thing isn’t really my kind of thing.

But you have to admire the inventiveness.

I think the sentimental strips work better than the ones that are just going for the gag.

Still… not really my cup of oolong.

Shrimpy and Paul and Friends by Marc Bell (Highwater Books)

Oh, yeah, I got this 2003 book as part of the kickstartererd Worn Tuff Elbow #2.

With this nice thing, suitable for sowing onto my jacket.

Anyway, it’s a collection of 90s strips that I kinda guess were serialised in a free newspaper or something? Just guessing. It feels a lot more “underground” than just about anything else I’ve read from Bell, and more improvised. I mean, his other stuff seem to have a kinda floating logic to it, and a structure that isn’t obvious at first but then locks in. This feels a lot more random.

But I mean, it’s Marc Bell. The artwork is super cool and there’s jokes.

Oh, OK, not all the jokes work, but it’s a satisfying package.

Shipping Saver #1 by Marc Bell (No World Books)

Hm… Oh, yeah, the text up there explains what this is. Gotta love Marc Bell.

The booklet is pretty random, but fun.

Kindred by Damian Duffy and John Jennings (Abrams)

I normally avoid comics that are adaptations of novels like the plague… but I was kinda obsessed with Octavia Butler when I was in my 20s, and I kinda accidentally on purpose bought it.

Oy vey.

I viscerally hate this artwork. It’s got an “edgy”, “angular” sheen, but is just boring as fuck illustration. Why did Abrams go with this pair as doing the adaptation, anyway? Very strange choice.

What isn’t strange is doing Kindred as an adaptation. It’s Butler’s only… uhm… I want to say “clean book”, for some reason. But it’s her only book that’s mainstream bait, really. All her other books are intensely othering, while this is a high concept, straightforward sci-fi adventure: It’s about a black woman going back in time to Maryland in 1815, and the horrors that ensues.

Butler has seriously gone out of fashion, and it’s not difficult to see why (there’s nothing about her books that is not problematic), but she’s a brilliant writer.

I guess you could still adapt the Parable books…

Kindred is, like almost all of Butler’s books, very Science Fiction, with capital S and F; the characters react rationally to what’s happening and try to figure out how to work within this reality to survive. I love that, and I’m slightly surprised that they didn’t swap this out for So Much More Drama in the adaptation.

The adaptation mostly kinda actually works. It’s choppy as hell in some parts, but there’s sections that read well. It feels overstuffed, though, and overwrought in a way the original novel wasn’t.

But it could definitely have been so much worse than it is.

Komix #0-5 (Interpresse)

This is a Danish comics magazine from 1983-84 that I picked up used. I knew nothing about it, but I thought it might be fun to see what they were writing about.

It’s a mixture of interviews, reviews, articles and comics, like the Moebius short above I don’t think I’ve seen before.

The magazine is thematically stodgy: Since it’s 1983, I would have thought they’d be writing about what was exciting at the time, which was, well, Love and Rockets and what was happening in US alternative comics. But that’s virtually not mentioned.

Instead it’s all about undergrounds and Frenchey 70s comics.

Not that I mind seeing this Druillet/Tardi trifle, but it’s still weird. I guess they were just kinda… not very with it?

In the last couple of issues they cut down on the reviews and ran more comics, like this not very essential thing by Floc’h (which took about a quarter or the pages).

Heh. In the final issue, there’s a letter glued onto the inside back cover saying that Denmark is too small a country for a magazine like this, and that they’re returning the subscription fee.

Well, that mag was a bit of a disappointment all over… There were some interesting reviews in there, but nothing really… exciting.

I didn’t read the interviews, though. Because TIME.

Baron Bean vol 3 by George Herriman (IDW)

Hey, more Herriman! This is a series that I guess that he did partly concurrent with Krazy Kat? I haven’t read it before.

And… it’s… not as essential as Krazy Kat, perhaps. The jokes are pretty repetitive. Well, OK, they are in Krazy Kat, too, but they’re less corny and more weird there.

The marks are as delightful as ever.

You Don’t Get There From Here #45-49 by Carrie McNinch.

I love these… but I’m going to cheat now and put them by my bed and read them later. Because I have to clear that window sill today! And I’m behind schedule!

Marvel Two In One: Cry Monster by Steve Gerber and thousands more (Marvel)

The reason I bought this must have been that I was curious to see what Steve Gerber was up to in the early 70s. The first issue reprinted is written by Len Wein, and is boring as hell.

And it’s really too late for me to read the rest, so I’ll put it into the bedroom, too! I can stack all kinds of things in there! Sure!

And with that I succeeded! With almost no cheating! I have now conquered the Window Sill! Remember what it looked like! I did it! I will now never let it build up to such a ridiculous degree! From now on I will curb my comics buying and not ever go overboard again!

WHAT THE FUCK!? WHAT HAPPENED! THE SILL WAS EMPTY JUST SECONDS AGO! WHERE DID THOSE COMICS COME FROM!?!? Please don’t tell me that I went to the yearly sale at the comics store here a couple of days ago and went hog wild? Please!? PLEEEASE!

For one bright shiny moment…

Comics Cavalcade Day 11

OK, the number of unread comics on the window sill has definitely decreased, so this blog series is working! And, as usual, I’ll just be reading comics and write some uninformed notes, because there’s just no time for reviews.

Incomplete Works by Dylan Horrocks (Victoria University Press)

This is a collection of short pieces from various anthologies and stuff. I think I’ve read most of these before, but it’s fun to follow Horrocks’ evolution: It’s presented chronologically, which I think is nice.

I had forgotten that Horrocks used the “Sam Zabel” name from almost the very start of his career.

It’s a nice read, but many of these pieces are pretty… non-essential. Of the newer stuff, I did like these diary comics.

Worn Tuff Elbow by Marc Bell (No World Books)

Oh, yeah, this was kickstartererd… That’s nice…

Anyway, this is the usual Marc Bell stuff, which means: It’s amazing. There’s something about Bell’s narratives that are absolutely totally engrossing. It’s not dream logic or anything like that, but things seem to make sense on a different plane altogether. This time out, it all revolves around bologna, and it’s perfect.

A huge attraction here is the artwork, too. It’s just so… right.

That system does make sense!

Read Write Right Reed by Hugh Frost (Landfill Editions?)

I’m guessing this is Landfill, because it has that feel… and didn’t I order a bunch of stuff from them?

This is basically a collection of er paintings and stuff.

Laura Dean Kepps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki and Rosemary Valero-O’Connell (First Second)

Oh, deer: Another First Second book. Well, even though virtually everything they publish suck, there’s also This One Summer, which was rather spiffy. But was that due to Mariko Tamaki or Jillian Tamaki?

Based on this book, it was the latter. Without that beautiful artwork, this is a pretty perfunctory book. It’s about a really, really shitty girlfriend and how that toxic relationship makes the protagonist into a shitty friend. It goes exactly how you expect, with all the dramatic notes happening right on queue, and it ends exactly how you’d predict.

Which leaves the artwork to take up the slack, and Valero-O’Connell isn’t really up to it. I mean, it’s nice and all, and she does have a real knack for conveying information, emotion and personal ticks through her drawings, but the Japanese/American hybrid style she uses doesn’t really click. And the lack of backgrounds feels more lazy than stylish.

So, sitting here being kinda bored with the entire thing (and I’m totally in the target audience) I just got annoyed with all these crappy production issues, like using a font that has a way huge lower case k, which means that I’m stopping all the time wondering “what is BerKeley? oh it’s just that fucking font”.

As well as other general sloppinesses (that’s a word) like having the cover of the novel on the back, and kvetch kvetch kvetch.

So to sum up: This is going to be on at least a quarter of all Best Of lists this December.

24 Panels (Image)

This is an anthology where the proceeds go to the survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire… and the name of the anthology stems from none of the stories (except the introduction, weirdly enough) has more than 24 panels. So I was expecting that to be a strong structural guide to the pieces, but:

These are just normal anthology pieces: Some have panels, some don’t, and there’s really nothing either formally or thematically linking the pieces.

So we get a hodge-podge of work, but, surprisingly enough for this kind of thing, most of the pieces are pretty good.

It works a whole lot better than I was expecting.

Grote Pyr 1 by Dick Matena (Interpresse)

I found this at a used bookstore, and I was intrigued because I’ve never heard of the author or the series before. It was published in the mid-80s, and Matena is apparently Dutch…

But opening this album now, my initial reaction was WTF? The artwork is so super-cluttered and busy that it makes my eyes swim, and that the character designs are so obviously crabbed from Albert Uderzo (while on acid) didn’t raise my confidence. The colouring doesn’t help, either, but perhaps it’s faded over the years.

I mean… look at those characters: Straight out of Asterix, but with the settings on 11.

Sometimes it does kinda really work, like with that awesome bear.

So does it suck? No, it doesn’t. It’s very lively and quite funny and I would have loved it as a child.

Spanish Fever edited by Santiago García (Fantagraphics)

This is an anthology from 2013 of Spanish comics. In the introduction, the editor lays it on heavily about how Spanish comics are the bees knees these days, so I was all set for a collection of masterpieces.

And… it’s not. They range from totally boring to quite OK, but the emphasis on conventionally narrative works really works against the anthology. It feels so stodgy, and some bits (like this one where the cartoonist lionises himself) is a bit on the embarrassing side.

Hey! Dramatic clouds.

OK, there’s some good stuff in here, like this thing by Ana Galvañ.

Javier Olivares impresses too, with the super-expressive artwork and harrowing storyline.

Things You Carry by Vincent Stall (2d cloud)

Well, this is an odd little book. I kinda like the artwork, but the storyline has something video gameish about it… I think. I don’t quite know why, but it just has that feeling to me.

Tongues #2 by Anders Nilsen

Huh; I had totally forgotten that I hadn’t read this yet. And look at the fancy printing!

This is very much an in-progress kind of book, and I’ve totally forgotten what the first issue was about, but it’s completely riveting anyway. The confusion perhaps makes it even more compelling: It’s creepy, tense and vital.

And so beautifully presented in these oversized pages.

Can’t wait for the next issue, which is apparently going to be published by Fantagraphics and released in a couple of months?

Daredevil vol 1 (!?!) by the people above there (Marvel)

I bought this because somebody wrote somewhere that this was supposed to be pretty entertaining as super-hero comics go… And I guess it is. I mean, it’s standard TV superhero drama stuff, and I wouldn’t have watched it on TV, but the artwork’s pretty nice.

The printing on some of the pages is atrocious, though.

Hm… is this what Maleev’s art looks like? I thought it looked scratchier… Oh! This is by David Mack, which makes more sense. I like the little Bill Sienkiewicz quotations he puts in there, what with the patterned borders and little triangles floating around. It’s fun.

And, uh, and…

Anyway, this is Maleev. It’s nice.

But when he goes for that picture-through-a-xerox look it gets pretty stiff.

But at least it’s better that the people who took over on the last few issues reprinted in this issue.


Anyway, this collection is not horrible or anything, but it’s not… like… worth reading.

Les Cinq 2 & 4 by Serge Rosenzweig and Bernard Dufossé (Hjemmet)

This is another pair of albums I picked up at the used bookstore, and which I know nothing about. Or perhaps I’ve just repressed the memory and I did read these once as a child? It’s possible, because they’re not very memorable. Not horrible, not good, just sort of… there. I could see somebody who is ten reading these and finding them entertaining enough.

They’re inspired by the Enid Blyton book series, but set in France.

I think I’ll… re-gift them. (I didn’t make it all the way through the second album.)

OK, perhaps it’s time to call it a day and hope I’ll make it through the remaining comics in the next instalment of this blog series.

Comics Cavalcade Day 10

The to the finish continues, and as usual, no reviews, just reading.

Marble Cake by Scott Jason Smith (Avery Hills)

This is such a fresh comic. It’s told via an ensemble cast that more or less all interact with one another kinda randomly, but it all builds up and connects. It’s such a well-observed piece: Everything feels true and real, and none of the characters are artists, filmmakers or writers. That’s a rarity these days!

Hey, I’ve wondered that myself. Uncanny.

I guess you can see the lineage to British cinema, but it’s very far from being a drawn movie: It uses the comics medium perfectly, with formal touches like different panel shapes in different sections of the book (of which I’m not showing any, because I don’t want to give anything away).

It’s brilliant: It’s an effortless, gripping read. Best comic of the year for me, I think.

Simon & Louise by Mac de Radiguès (Conundrum)

This book is no great surprise — de Radiguès is in his element here. But it’s just such a sweet, perfect little book, with bright summery colours. There’s so many nice little touches, like the recurring punk guardian angel.

I guess there could be some elements some would find trite… I mean, there’s many scenes here that are kinda cliché. But so sweet. So cute.

Fearless #1 (Marvel)

By all those people above there.

I don’t know why I bought this… Hm… was it because it involves Kelly Thompson? She’s fun.

Unfortunately, she only writes a very short itsy bitsy thing at the end of this anthology.

The other two (longer) bits aren’t bad, though. And Millie the Model is back.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #47 by Ryan North and Derek Charm (Marvel)

That crossover nonsense over with, we’re now back to the usual nonsense (which is a lot better). It’s another very amusing issue, and it looks like they’re gearing up for a grand conclusion to the series in issue fifty.

Errr. ASCII is a subset of UTF-8, so that’s one variant she didn’t try. What did she try? UTF-16!? HA HA HA HA.

Fence by those people on the cover up there (Boom Box)

The thing here is to try to emulate a Japanese comic to the max, I guess? It’s not entirely successful — the storytelling is rather choppy.

And there are sections in here that are really, really boring. But it’s not all bad.

Yoko Tsuno vol 20 by Roger Leloup (Carlsen)

Yesterday I carted a case of duplicates to a used bookstore and rooted through their comics and got (among other things) this 90s album in return. Yoko Tsuno is an odd series: It never seemed to become really popular, but it was always kinda there in the 80s, managing to rack up a substantial number of translated albums in the Scandinavian countries. I lost interest, because it’s… Everything is 100% intense all the time; everything is drama. It’s exhausting to read.

The first albums weren’t sci-fi, either, but this one is super sci-fi. It’s so sci that I can’t really make out what the fi is all about; it’s confusing. It’s something about transfers of souls, and transfers of memories, and transfers or self, and those aren’t the same thing, and everything is… confusing.

But it was nice to dip back into this. I like Leloup’s artwork; it’s very classic clear line, but with a certain dynamism. The figures are rather stiff, though, but that’s part of the style.

Hm… it just occurred to me that, unusually enough for a Frenchey adventure comic, this perhaps fails the reverse Bechdel test. That is, there are a couple of male characters in this album, but their scenes are brief and they (I think) never talk to each other. Most of the significant characters are women, and the conversations (and fights) are between them.

Yakari vol 14 by Derib + Job (Carlsen)

This is another find from the used book store. Yakari is a series for small children, charmingly drawn by Derib. I remember reading these as a child… although not this album, which is from long after I stopped reading them.

It’s likeable.

Benoît Brisefer vol 4 by Peyo, Gos and Walthery (Semic)

This was a children’s series I did not read as a child — I think they started translating it in the mid-80s? Which was too late for me.

I don’t know my Peyo history, really, but I think Benoît Brisefer was Peyo’s “other” series, not, er, quite as famous as his Smurf series.

The concept is very simple: the title character is a little boy who’s incredibly strong. Except when he gets a cold, and he loses all his strength. So the plots in the albums I’ve seen invariably involve him foiling some villain through his super strength, then he gets a cold and is kidnapped, and remains so until the cold goes away and he captures the villain for sure, this time. The end.

You can kinda see why this wasn’t as big a deal as, well, a lot of other Frenchey children’s series of the 60s.

But the drawings are classic BD and there’s jokes here and there that aren’t that bad.

Action packed.

Les 7 Vies de l’Épervier vol 4 by P. Cothias and A. Juillard (Carlsen)

This is a series I’m completely unfamiliar with, I think. It’s from the mid-80s, which wasn’t a good period for frenchey comics. If I understand things correctly, it was difficult to get anything published that wasn’t sci-fi, porn or sci-fi porn.

This is slightly on the porny side, but is kinda interesting. It’s about the olden days of witch finders and the power struggle between the church and the king and stuff. It’s got a lot of texture, both in the writing and the artwork. And the colour palette is pretty unique.

I think I’m going to be on the lookout for the other volumes in this series.

Syncopated: An anthology of nonfiction picto-essays edited by Brendan Burford (Villard)

I picked this up from the used bookstore, too, but reading the introduction I was getting bad vibes. I mean, the title of the book is harrowing enough: “picto-essays”? But then “comics” in sneer quotes?

This is gonna suck! Badly!

But then it turns out that at least half of the pieces in here are good. The Nick Bertozzi story about how hay bailing works is fascinating.

The definition of “essay” here is very wide. Tricia van den Bergh does a portfolio of drawings from a park, and very lovely drawings they are.

About one third of the pieces aren’t essays in any way, I’d say, but are just normal (auto-)biographical comics, like this one by Sarah Glidden.

Wow! Paul Karasik!

Anyway, this anthology is a bit hit and miss, but there’s some really good stuff in here. Nice random find.

And now… it’s late. Do you know where your cat is?