Comics Daze

I got a whole bunch of comics in the mail yesterday, so it’s a comics readin’ day today. This time around, the comics are from all over — that is, mostly ordered directly from publishers and stuff, and very little from shops.

And I’m feeling kinda nostalgic today, so for music it’s (once again) gonna be all Talking Heads & Friends.

Talking Heads: 77 (Sire)

13:54: Sammy the Mouse III by Zak Sally

A slight wait between issues — this is a continuation of the series from Fantagraphics more than a decade ago, I think? Or… er… no, those were much shorter, and this book seems to be starting on page 200? Uncivilized also was in on this? Hm. I think I have to dig out my Fantagraphics issues of this…

I have absolutely no idea what’s going on, of course — I don’t remember even the premise of this series. But it’s lovely nonetheless: It’s a pleasant kind of befuddlement. I also like the format of the book — it’s printed on a newsprint-like paper (including the cover), which makes it very floppy.

It’s also very funny. (And features Ed the Happy Clown?)

Well, I guess I have to buy the previous two books from La Mano, which I thought just reprinted the Fantagraphics books, but I guess not.

14:18: Sleepwalking by Lauren Monger (Silver Sprocket)

Wow, lovely colours and the animal drawings are great.

The story is of the “young people hanging around” type, but feels very genuine. It doesn’t really have much of an ending, but still quite compelling.

14:25: The Karman Line by Mitsuhashi Kotaro (Glacier Bay Books)

This book uses a couple of different art styles…

It’s a collection of short, vague pieces, and this would usually be my kind of thing, but it’s got a kind of forced whimsy going on. And in addition, it’s very “deep”. Perhaps something got lost in the translation.

Talking Heads: More Songs About Buildings and Food

14:41: Boy Maximortal #4 by Rick Veitch (King Hell)

This is the concluding bit of the second volume of Veitch’ Heroica thing. (You know — Bratpack and all that stuff.) And I have to say that Veitch manages to carry it off very well; it’s very consistent with the Heroica stuff he did in the 90s.

But did we really need a Kennedy conspiracy thing here?

It’s a 100 page book, so the last half has a reprint of the Maximortal specials (which I think I’ve read before). It’s good.

Talking Heads: Fear of Music

15:27: Oglaf Book Three by Doug Bayne & Trudy Cooper

Whee. My favourite web comic. There’s fewer continuing stories these days and I really liked those — gags are great, but when reading collections like this, some continuity is nice, so I’m hoping there’s new sequence in here.

Oh, this book is from 2020…

Still hilarious, and really attractive artwork. But it’s almost all single/double page gags, and that’s exhausting to read in one sitting, so I’ve just read a third of this book now, and I’m saving the rest for a different day.

Talking Heads: Remain In Light (vinyl)

16:06: Parc by Jul Gordon (2d cloud)

Yay! 2d cloud is back!.

Love the artwork. It’s a funny but also unnerving book.

The storyline is pretty clear, but what it all means is pretty obscure. Which I like. Excellent stuff.

16:19: The Amazing Camel Toe by Claire Duplan (Black Panel Press)

The artwork is charmingly wonky, and the story is pretty sweet.

But the storytelling is just really choppy — the story seems to grind to a halt all the time.

(And what’s up with the super shiny paper? Doesn’t really fit the aesthetic of the work at all.)

Talking Heads: The Name Of This Band Is Talking Heads (Disc 1: 1977-1979)

16:42: Desert Island Mystery Mail

Oh yeah; new package from Desert Island. What’s this book, then?

I’m not quite sure what this book is… a collection of sketches and other random stuff?

Or things that have been mysteriously sent to Desert Island? It’s very random indeed. But nice.

16:50: Cyanide Swamp (Reptile House)

This is a collection of horrorish stories, I guess. Some are slightly abstract…

… and others are very referential. There’s some good pieces in here, but I didn’t feel like it really cohered as an anthology.

17:02: Everything Together by Sammy Harkham (PictureBox)

Oh, I think I have this already… it’s from 2012? Hm; not sure actually — it looks awfully familiar, but I can’t really see it in the bookcase here.

This is a fantastic collection — especially the longer pieces, which carry a substantial emotional weight.

And the shorter pieces are pretty amusing.

Talking Heads: The Name Of This Band Is Talking Heads (Disc 2: 1980-1981)

17:36: A Favorable Wind on Full Sails by Arantoochika (Glacier Bay Books)

The artwork’s interesting, but the stories are like they’re trying to win the World Ennui Championships.

And succeeding!

Towards the end of the book we get some very rough-looking strips that I assume the artist did in high school? In a way these strips are more interesting than the later ones…

18:12: True Friends by David Collier (Spare Parts Press)

I’ve been a fan of Collier’s since his appearances in Weirdo (so mid-80s?) and this is another strong book. It combines new comics (like above)…

… with older stuff, and some stories of unstated provenance about Collier’s friends in the early 80s. Collier has such an easy, digressive flow to his comics — he’s very chatty, but it’s all interesting. And, of course, his line is very appealing.

He’s done a number of very strong books, and this book is among his best work.

Talking Heads: Speaking in Tongues

It concludes with a long “appendix” of sketchbook stuff that he’d done in the period the stories are about. Nice. And there’s a note here… hm… Oh! Florida! Yeah, I’m using a mail forwarding service in Florida. Tee hee.

David Byrne and Brian Eno: My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts

19:36: Daughters of Snow and Cinders by Núria Tamarit (Fantagraphics)

Oh deer. This art style really isn’t my kind of thing — it’s in a vague no-man’s-land between Japanese children’s comics, cartoons and Corporate Memphis. All the characters have similar faces but different hairdos, which lets us tell them apart, but even within those confines, Tamarit makes some weird choices: She has three characters that have their right eyes poked out? I wondered whether that was symbolising something, but nope — perhaps she just likes drawing the characters that way?

And there’s a dog, because of course there is.

I guess this is a comic book for teenagers, but even as a teenager I would have kept rolling my eyes while reading this.

Yay! Food! Can’t make dinner myself when reading comics.

(Unfortunately, it wasn’t very good.)

I wonder whether Tamarit’s background is really in illustration — there’s a few spreads like this that are really quite good, whereas the storytelling is er not. The book goes nowhere much, but is quite annoying (not) getting there.

David Byrne: The Catherine Wheel (expanded)

20:30: The Essential Spread Love Comix edited by Uncle Gil

This is a “best of” collection from a dozen Spread Love issues, apparently.

And it’s pretty bad, actually. I mean, even for this kind of thing — it’s just so unambitious. It’s mostly single page strips, mostly having some kind of gag, and mostly not actually funny.

20:41: Š! #47 (Kuš)

The theme this time is “obsession”.

It’s a good theme; lots of things you can talk about.

And as usual, there’s a wide variety of approaches to comics here.

It’s another strong issue of Š!.

20:59: Frozengirl by Iku Kawaguchi (2d cloud)

This little book collects a whole bunch of sketches, I guess?

And other illustrations. It’s pretty cool.

David Byrne: The Knee Plays

21:03: Danger and Other Unknown Risks by Ryan North & Erica Henderson (Penguin)

Yay! North & Henderson reunited!

This is more of a straight-up adventure book than I was expecting.

Plenty of amusing repartee, but the action sags a bit here and there. But then! Ka-pow! I don’t want to give anything away, but it gets very entertaining, and I can totally see this becoming lots of teenagers’ favourite comic book ever. So — well done, even if it’s not perfect.

22:06: Pandora by Hagiwara Rei (Glacier Bay Books)

The artwork’s lovely.

But as with the other Glacier Bay books in this batch, it’s not really my sort of thing. It’s very “spiritual”.

22:24: One Strange Day by Shinnosuke Saika (Glacier Bay Books)

Now, this is more like it. It’s super cute and quite amusing.

But best of all, it’s got a kind of magical mood going on. Very nice.

Tom Tom Club: Tom Tom Club

22:30: Compact Magazine 1 by Raighne, Stephen Z Hayes (2d cloud)

Well, the Morgan Vogel strip certainly throws down the gauntlet — on the next three pages we get some real atrocities going. Very bracing! (Not showing any snaps because this is a family oriented blog.)

And the rest of the book is a lot er milder. Yvan Alagbé has some fun riffing on The Phantom and its colonialist sensibilities or something.

Puzzlingly enough, we get a short story by Samuel Delany. I mean, I love me some Delany (I’ve read all his books, even the essay, letters and diary collections, up until like 2005), but why this story from 2022? Which was published by The Baffler last year? It’s a pretty… mild… short story as Late Stage Delany goes, really, so er caveat lector, as they probably didn’t say in Rome.

Tom Tom Club: Close To The Bone

Oh, right, Blaise Larmee! His inclusion in this anthology led to a lot of Twitter Drama. Let’s see…

But I never quite understood what Larmee was being accused of at the time when all the drama was happening. Like… 2018? His book, typically and obscurely called “3 Books”, was pulped and stuff: One of the stories in that book detailed what seemed like abuse in an autobiographical manner, but everything in that book screamed “look, everything here is made up even if I’m saying nothing is”, even going as far as making a fake blog to prop up the claims of things being real. If Laurence Sterne could have fun with doing those kinds of shenanigans, then you’d think somebody now could, too.

On the other hand, if you’re publishing a book saying “LOOK! IT”S REAL” and then people think it’s real, I guess you can’t be surprised if people thinks it’s real…

Anyway! I know nothing.

The anthology ends with a 50 page long preview section, and everything seems excellent — put me down for one of each!

In conclusion: Much drama and Very Controversial Anthology, but it’s a very good anthology.

Jerry Harrison: The Red And The Black

23:50: Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe (Oni Press)

This is from 2020, but it’s being banned all over the US now, apparently, so I had to get a copy to see what the fuss is about.

Extremely clear storytelling — it seems effortless and has no snags.

And… it’s really enjoyable. I’m reading the whole book with a smile on my face, really.

Oops, I ran out of good Talking Heads-ish albums…

Yukihiro Takahashi: Neuromantic

It packs a lot of information, but it’s also funny and moving, and feels very… open? So many of the books in this area feels like they’ve been thoroughly digested and edited to death, but this one doesn’t have all the answers, but feels like a welcoming reading experience. It’s very nice, and I can see why it’s being banned a lot.

00:48: The End

OK, that was a very mixed bunch of comics. The Collier and Gordon books are going on my “best of 2023” list, I think, but there was a whole bunch of other good stuff, and only one book that I straight-up disliked, I think?

So now I’m exhausted. Night night.

OTB#29: Do The Right Thing

Man that’s how you start a movie! Fight the Power by Public Enemy and a slamming dance routine!

I have not seen this movie since it was released (and I was 21), but I remember being all excited about it (and disappointed with almost every subsequent Spike Lee movie).

(Hm… that’s like 34 years ago… how old does that make me? *gasp* It cannot be! PUT THAT MATH AWAY)

Oh, the Lon Guyland (?) repartee…

Oh, I’d forgotten that Spike Lee acts in this, as well as being the writer, producer and directer. Très auteaur.

OK… my enthusiasm is evaporating. I guess I’ve seen a lot of American indie movies over the last decades, so what I found to be really original and interesting back then now seems kinda rote? Especially the performances — they’re kinda not all there. I mean… I guess Lee isn’t exactly going for naturalistic or anything, but the performances just seem all over the place: Some of them seem to be doing The Method, while others seem to be reading their lines off a teleprompter, and some people seem to be finding the scenery delectable and chewing it all up.

But I still love the colours.

Lee likes this angle, man.

I’m getting stressed out by these pizzas! It seems like every one in waiting around for fifteen minutes while people work out their dramas before getting delivered. THE PIZZAS ARE GETTING COLD

I’m starting to get into this again now… I was overly enthusiastic, and then crushingly disappointed, but now I’m enjoying this.

I’ve been wondering this entire time where I’ve seen the guy playing Vito last and going “well, he kinda looks like John Lurie, but isn’t, so it’s not Stranger Than Paradise”. I finally broke down and looked him up:

It’s Stranger Than Paradise!

Well… No, I’m still disappointed. I can well see people having this as their favourite movie ever, because it’s definitely got something special. Some of the scenes are really good, and it’s got a proper mood going. And I like the Robert Altmanesque so-many-things-going-on-you-have-no-idea-where-it’s-going thing.

But there’s some scenes that are just hokey beyond belief, and it loses tension that’s hard to regain.

Oh, Kenneth Branagh… that makes sense. I remember Lee and Branagh coming onto the scene about the same time, both doing ambitious movies…

There’s only one more new entry on the Sight & Sound 2022 Directors’ List to go — the top 30 doesn’t get many brand new entries; the vast majority are in #50-100, which is natural.

Do The Right Thing. Spike Lee. 1989.

This blog post is part of the Officially The Best 2022 series.

OTB#41: Sans toit ni loi

I watched this back in 2015, but now I’ve got a 2K version of it, so I’m watching it again.

So this starts with a dead woman, and is being presented as an investigation into her life and how she ended up in that ditch.

Varda is more known for her documentaries these days than her films, and this is a kind of hybrid thing. That is, it’s perhaps the most conventional of her films I’ve seen — traditionally filmed and edited, without any major flourishes…

… except for using obvious non-professional actors and dialogue that’s not exactly naturalistic.

Should she be wearing her leather jacket while washing cars?

Anyway, the movie is about a pretty, young woman, wearing kinda cool clothes, who has no obvious problems, who’s a drifter in the French countryside. So the mystery is, of course: Why has she chosen this (hard) life?


You’d think in a film like this it’d be just one bad thing after another — but no, she encounters a lot of people, and most of them are pretty decent towards her? She’s not a druggie either, and doesn’t seem to have any particular trauma… She’s a rebel without a clue?

Fluffy cow!

Of course people in France giving blood get wine!

The movie loses focus after a while — we kinda get more into other people’s reactions to the vagabond than anything else. It’s a bit like Varda didn’t quite know how to follow up on the initial impetus — instead she starts devoting time to people who are sort of standins for herself: People around the vagabond who are wondering what’s going on with the vagabond?

Man, they have some odd traditions in France…

Ah yeah… I can see how this connects with Wes Anderson and Atom Egoyan…

That’s Egoyan’s list — he has a perfect score here (only films that are on the lists). All good films, really, but not very adventurous.

Wes Anderson, on the other hand, has only four films that are on the S&S lists. Hm… Clouzot? Lots of old/French stuff…

Anyway, this movie is very good, but I think I liked it better the first time I watched it? This time around, it just seemed aimless in a not very good way. But still:

Vagabond. Agnès Varda. 1985.

This blog post is part of the Officially The Best 2022 series.

OTB#46: Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb


I’ve seen this movie randomly like a handful of times — the last time was perhaps four years ago? So… I’m not super enthusiastic about watching it again now. I mean, it’s a movie that has a lot of amusing scenes and some great performances, but it’s one of those satire¹ films with a lot of plot to get through, so when you remember how each scene goes, it can get a bit annoying.

But here we go. I’m just giving you a heads up that I may be less enthusiastic here than … rationally expected.

It’s a good movie for heckling in a group… lots of memorable lines that you can shout back at the screen.

It’s a movie that’s all plot and manoeuvres…

What! Not 100%! Who are the dangerous rebels!

Oh, that’s a crank…

What’s that then?

Strangelove Drops Controversial Bomb

Feb. 20, 1964

By Philip K. Scheuer

This will be a minority report — critically speaking, at any rate. Before I was served up “Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb,” a publicist at Columbia, which is distributing the picture, assured me it would be my “cup of tea.” After suffering through two screenings of “Dr. Strangelove,” I would sooner drink hemlock…. To me, “Dr. Strangelove” is an evil thing about an evil thing; you will have to make up your own mind about it.

Oh, it’s not a review? Er… it’s very short…

The film is kinda comforting — I mean, the depiction of the president as a rational, effective person who can get things done without significant squabbles (except from the George C. Scott character) is very fairy tale like.

Well, I’m not surprised that Oliver Stone voted for this.

*slaps knee*

It’s a very quotable movie.

I do wonder what it was like watching this in 1964. Probably not much of a shock — you’d have “subversive” humour like this for a decade and a half at least — but perhaps unusual for a mainstream audience?

I mean, it’s satire¹.

It’s… I mean, Sellers’ performance is great (sorry if I’m being controversial here). But he’s so much better at this sort of thing that the other actors feel like amateurs. George C. Scott is up to the task of chewing the scenery in a satisfying way, but Sterling Hayden, for instance, is constantly shown up by Sellers.

It’s such a memorable movie — almost every scene seems iconic.

And it’s really really exciting — as it goes along, it gets more and more like a real thriller where we’re at the edge of our seats of our sofas.

It’s a pretty unusual film in that we’re (i.e., the audience) wants these nice people (who are kind of protagonists) to get killed.

And it’s fascinating how these guys are done — no gnashing of teeth or anything, but people doing their jobs professionally. If this movie had been made in 2023, we’d have gotten all their backstories and all their daddy issues and stuff, right?

Almost despite myself, I wound up enjoying watching this movie again — especially the last third. It’s just so memorable that the first half is just scenes that you’re waiting to happen, and the satire¹ is so heavy…

But let’s go with this throw of the die:

Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Stanley Kubrick. 1964.

This blog post is part of the Officially The Best 2022 series.

¹) “Satire” is code for “not actually funny”.

OTB#53: Eraserhead

I watched this a few years ago. I was thinking about rewatching it for this blog series, but I should probably wait a bit more before rewatching it? So I’m not.

Anyway, it’s an amazing movie, so the odd thing here is that it hasn’t featured on the Sight & Sound directors’ list before. But the 2022 list has a number of more experimental films than the 2012 list, so I guess it makes sense in that context.

These are the directors that voted for it. And… Gaspar Noé and Frank Oz? Yes, I can see how both those directors would enjoy it. But now I’m wondering how Oz’s list looks like.

Hm… I guess Eraserhead is an outlier here, but perhaps it’s the puppy action that made him put it on the list?

Eraserhead. David Lynch. 1977.

This blog post is part of the Officially The Best 2022 series.