This is my 69th comics column for VICE and I am very proud of that. I hope that you are 69ing while are reading it.
Look at Johnny Ryan's new t-shirt. You can buy it here.
Look at these pretty firecracker packages.
Look at these different Akira VHS covers.
My sister is working for Robot Chicken now. She went to the DC Comics Special Wrap party dressed as Kryptonite. She's the one on the right. I think that is an awesome costume.
Look at this Love and Rockets pin-up that was made for a swimsuit special of an old comics magazine.
Look at Spiderman.
Here are some reviews.
Jacques Boyreau & Peter Van Horne
I reviewed Jacques Boyreau's book about VHS box art years ago and have been waiting for a sequel since then. All my wishing and wanting and sweating paid off because now the world has Sexytime. Although I don't love the title because it reminds me of Borat, this is a nigh-perfect book reproducing poster art for the theatrical runs of porno movies from the 70s.
In the past few years there have been a few books based directly on Tumblr pages and they were all terrible. I've seen several of the posters in this book posted on Tumblr, but this book isn't like those other books. This book gives you more than you could just see on the internet for free. Even just seeing the poster art reproduced in a giant glossy book is way better than looking at crummy jpegs.
Every poster in this book is beautiful. Some of them have a sophisticated style and some look like they were painted by people who weren't good enough to hack it in the regular illustration world. In both cases every one of the posters in this book is fascinating for one reason or another. It might just be that design is so ugly that even the lowest-level design from the 70s is better than the best of what anyone's making right now. People don't like the way Photoshop looks but people have forgotten what the lost world of pretty handmade things looked like. I honestly believe that people like the texture of film grain and the perfect imperfection of design that is laid out by hand.
The only thing I'm curious about is why the designers of these posters aren't really brought up. It's hard for me to look at the posters and not think: "Who painted this? Did they like their job? Were they ashamed? Are they still alive? Did they ever imagine that their junky little poster art would be collected in a fancy book and looked at for its artistic merits and not just ogled by people deciding whether or not they wanted to see that particular dirty movie?"
Portable Grindhouse was a nearly-perfect book and so is this one. You can get them both here.
Battlepug Volume 1
Mike Norton, Allen Passalaqua, Chris Crank
Dark Horse Comics
Battlepug is a retelling of the Conan the Barbarian story but in it the Conan character finds a giant pug that he rides around on. Also, his village was destroyed by a giant baby seal and he is enslaved by Santa Claus. I love pugs a lot and this book captures what makes them so cute, all that wheezing and bug eyedness. Man, I love pugs so much. My main complaint about this book is that it needs more pug.
This pile of Dark Horse comics
Dark Horse sent me this pile of single issues of comics so I'll review them all real fast from best to worst.
B.P.R.D. Hell On Earth: The Pickens County Horror #1 of 2
Mike Mignola, Scott Allie, Jason LaTour, Dave Stewart
B.P.R.D. is a series of comics set in Mike Mignola's Hellboy universe. You can basically count on any comic that Mike Mignola oversees as having a good story and great art. The artist, Jason Latour is a super talent. This comic concerns some B.P.R.D. agents wandering into a small town where mushrooms are mutating people. Pretty much every story set in the Hellboy universe has the same plot as a haunted house movie, which is great because everyone loves haunted houses.
Reset #1 of 4
Reset is a new mini-series by comics genius Pete Bagge about an out-of-work comedian who allows mysterious scientists to test a machine on him that allows him to relive his entire adult life. Whenever it becomes too much for him he can hit the reset button and he's sent back to the moment in his high school graduation when a girl called him a spaz. Bagge sets up a strong first act in this issue. I can't wait to read the rest. My only issues with this issue are that the cover was done by Matt Kindt who I think is total garbage and the comic is colored in gray which is unnecessary.
Beasts of Burden: Neighborhood Watch
Evan Dorkin and Jill THompson
Beasts of Burden is a great little comic written by the guy who created Milk & Cheese and illustrated in watercolor by Jill Thompson, who does Scary Godmother and drew some Sandman stuff. This is a fun comic about cute animals trying to solve occult mysteries and crimes. It seems like paranormal investigation is Dark Horse's primary genre nowadays. A lot of the strength of this comic lies in how realistically Jill Thompson renders everything. It makes the cute animals cuter and it makes the horrifying elements scarier.
Dark Horse Free Comic Book Day 2012 Special
This comic that Dark Horse gave away has a great short comic about Han Solo and Chewbacca having an adventure aboard the Millennium Falcon. I wish all Star Wars comics were like this. I want Chewbacca to be my best friend and I want to live on the Millennium Falcon. I think most Star Wars fans would second that emotion. Give us comics that appeal to those inner-wishes.
Star Wars Dark TImes #5
Randy Stradley, Doug Wheatley, Dan Jackson
This comic series is Dark Horse's attempt to make a Star Wars comic that Star Wars fans want to read. Although I haven't read the previous issues this feels more like Star Wars than any other recent comics. The costumes, characters, settings, and technology all look more consistent with the aesthetic of the films. I wasn't totally clear on the story but it looked good and Darth Vader is the villain so I am intrigued.
Dark Horse Presents Issue 11
Dark Horse Presents is a revival of Dark Horse's old monthly anthology comic. Although there are eight great pages of new Evan Dorkin comics the rest of the book doesn't do much for me. Many of the comics in here are short and serialized so you don't get the satisfaction of a full story. People want longer comics if they're dramatic stories. If I were Dark Horse I would try to focus this on self-contained humor strips.
The Creep #0
John Arcudi and Jonathan Case
This comic has a Frank Miller cover but it's not much beyond that.
Mass Effect: Homeworlds #1
Mac Walters and Eduardo Francisco
This comic is based on a video game I haven't played.
Michael Avon Oeming
This comic is about a dark superhero and starts off with an opening that's just like Watchmen and has a sequence where the superhero hangs a guy by his feet like in Dark Knight Returns. I don't know if those were intentional references but I thought this comic sucked and I didn't care.
I Am Jennie
This is a book about recovering from sex addiction by retired porn star, Penny Flame. I jerk off to her porns pretty much nonstop, so when I spotted this book in the VICE office I said to myself, "I bet I can jerk off to this thing. Or maybe even jerk off on it." I haven't read the whole thing yet but I am enjoying flipping around the book and reading random passages. I'll do it now. (I am flipping through the book. FLIP FLIP FLAP!)
I just flipped to a page where Jennie/Penny describes being told that she was black-out drunk and had sex with a hot tub full of Jack in the Box employees. All of the chapters start with quotes from people like Einstein, George Bernard Shaw, and Buddha, which is kind of a bummer. Like all books dealing with addiction the first half when the writer is doing irresponsible stuff is a lot of fun. Whenever she talks about healing it is very, very boring because most people's 12-step processes are not as interesting as hearing about them getting black out-drunk and fucking a whole restaurant in a boiling, disease-stewing sex cauldron.
I keep a pen tucked into the cover of this book so I can underline my favorite parts. If Penny/Jennie reads this review I apologize for trivializing your ordeal and am glad you feel better but am also sad that you are no longer getting porked cinematically.
I leave you with a weekly Moebius image. This is a photo taken at the commemorative Moebius exhibit at the Manga Museum in Kyoto. It was taken by Pixelsnap.
Previously - Nick Gazin's Comic Book Love-In #68