FF1992: Crucial Fiction

Crucial Fiction by Julian Lawrence and Mark Yuill.

Despite the name, I thought that perhaps this was an autobio series, just based on the intensity of the start of the first issue.

That certainly looks and reads like a confessional religious outsider autobiographical piece, but since it ends with the protagonist building a new Christ from communion wafers and wine, it probably isn’t.

The religious themes continue in the second issue, where we are witnessing a  retelling of the story of Pope Joan, the only female pope (in the 700s).

So now they have a stricter pope admission process in place. I have no idea whether either of these things are true, and I don’t care enough to google it, but it’s a more successful story than the first issue.

The short backup story is kinda amusing. She’s been given orders on how to sabotage society, or something.

And finally we have the story of the quack J. R. Brinkley who was transplanting goat glands into people in the 1920s. And that story is apparently true.

Tsk. Not fiction! You can’t trust anybody these days…

Lawrence and Yuill do not seem to have published a lot after Crucial Fiction was cancelled with the third issue.

This post is part of the Fantagraphics Floppies series.

FF1992: Butt Biscuit

Butt Biscuit by Dean Williams and Ted Couldron.

What a thoroughly unpleasant comic book. The plot is about a kid with Down’s who’s kidnapped by a producer of speciality porn. I guess the idea is to be as offensive as possible, and then it’ll automatically be funny?

So it’s a papery version of 4chan.

The artwork isn’t very exciting, either.

The occasional “experimental” page would have helped a bit… if only they had been any good.

After the series was cancelled (no big surprise: The question is why is was published in the first place (it’s edited by Robert Boyd and not by Thompson or Groth, so perhaps they just didn’t know? (or had all sense of taste blunted by a few years of publishing Eros Comix?))) one further issue was published by Malpractice Graphix.

Neither the writer nor the artist seem to have published much after that.

This post is part of the Fantagraphics Floppies series.

FF1992: Test Dirt

Test Dirt #1 by Tony Fitzgerald.

As we get to the 90s, my “collection” of Fantagraphics comics grows spottier. I bought all the major long running comic books at the time, but the less known stuff passed me by: I was a poor student. And had to pay attention to other things. Like getting started rewriting Gnus.  I mean studying!  Nothing but studying, you hear, kind, benevolent student loans people.

So over the summer, I’ve been buying a lot of the stuff I missed, and this is one of those comics.

It’s created by someone completely unknown to me, Tony Fitzgerald, and as I started reading this, I was rather unimpressed by the artwork, which seems rather basic.

But then! The insanity! The silliness! The stupidity! It’s overwhelming!

I haven’t laughed this much at a comic book for quite a while. This brand of incessant deranged silliness is just up my alley, and I was rolling around on the couch at the end here.

Too bad there was only one issue, and I’m unable to google something up on Tony Fitzgerald (unless he’s an Australian judge now), so this was perhaps his only published book?

Boo, hiss.

This post is part of the Fantagraphics Floppies series.

FF1987: Frazetta

Thun’da Tales #1
Untamed Love #1

By Frank Frazetta and various.

There’s no text in these comics to explain why they exist beyond what’s on the covers: “finally presented in a quality full-color edition!” So my guess is that these are comics from the early 50s that had somehow fallen into the public domain, and Fantagraphics thought that they could make some money off of publishing them.

The first of the pair is about, well, Tarzan. But he’s called Thun’da here because that’s what the natives here called him after he fired off his gun. Or something.

Frazetta is known for his lush and … heroic rendering, but his anatomy is sometimes kinda wonky. Although very heroic.

Oh, yeah, there’s dinosaurs, too. But isn’t that just a lovely panel?

Much Betty Page. These stories were written by veteran Garner Fox, and they don’t really make that much sense, but they’re not any worse than most comics in this genre… and that includes Tarzan.

That’s a very Fletcher Hanks insane stare.

The second book here is a collection of early 50s romance tales. And as the indicia says, any similarity between the emotions here and those of real persons is purely coincidental.

But it’s very nicely drawn. Even better than that Tarzan book. I mean Thun’da.

The colouring is by Henry Mayo, and it’s very sympathetic. Just look at this page and how he makes everything light and breezy to fit the story:

While these two books do not advance the art form noticeably (which was apparently the point of publishing Savage, covered earlier today), they’re nice enough. The main point is just to look at the purdy art, though.

This post is part of the Fantagraphics Floppies series.

FF1982: Gil Kane’s Savage!

Gil Kane’s Savage! by Gil Kane and Archie Goodwin.

I think this is Fantagraphics’ third comic book, after The Flames of Gyro and Love and Rockets, so it’s historically interesting.

It’s a reprint of a magazine published in 1968, and RC Harvey gives some context in an opening essay:

He then goes on to talk a bit about the redundant text over each panel, and then a bit about how His Name is Savage! may be thought of as an early graphic novel.

And he’s totally correct about the redundancies. If you just skip the text, it’s a rather lively read, but with the text, it’s rather… plodding. But the thing is, I don’t really see how you could make a claim for this being an early graphic novel. For one, it’s not very long. It reads very much like a particularly over-written action comic strip, like if Secret Agent X-9 didn’t just have a daily recap panel at the start of each strip, but recapped endlessly…

<

The distinguishing feature is the hyper violence, I guess. This is a rather tame sequence; there’s real abuse later on.

In the interview, Kane describes the text above this panel to be the impetus to the entire book, sort of. Growl!

Well, I don’t know…

Oh yeah, there’s two interviews at the end. (Excerpted here we learn that few of the EC artists achieved distinction without the leaden prose of Feldstein or Kurtzman.)

One interview by Gary Groth, and one by Will Eisner, of all people.

I happened on to a mention of Gil Kane the other week while reading Pencilhead by Ted McKeever. In it he claimed that Kane used to steal original art from the Marvel offices. Apparently a lot. I thought “whoa, there’s going to be a reaction to this on the interweb”, especially since Kane is dead and can’t defend himself, but I haven’t even found a tweet about it.

Very odd.

Not this book; it’s not odd at all, but that Pencilhead thing…

This post is part of the Fantagraphics Floppies series.