Dear Comic Lovers,
2012 was a big year and I was there, with you, throughout it. I'll make the Best VICE Comics of 2012 at some point if I feel like it. Unless we all die from terrorists or asteroids, I bet 2013 will have some good comics too. I've never made a New Year's resolution before but my resolution for 2013 is to review a lot of comics. I know my amount of reviews has waned in recent months and many of you are heartbroken by this. So I am turning cheeks! This column has 23 reviews! But first here's some comic news!
Rob Corradetti made a new cartoon that you can see here:
Simon Hanselmann made a Truth Zone comic that features me as a creepy photographer and my friend and rapper Lakutis appears in it too. Very flattered.
Recently Rick Altergott has been sending penciled drawings of his character Miss Juniper to other artists to ink. So far he's had me, Dan Clowes, and R. Crumb. I bet you are surprised that I am a peer of Dan Clowes and R. Crumb, right? Well, so am I!
About a month ago I went to the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Fest. I posted a blog about what it was like a couple weeks back. Now here are reviews of the things I got there.
The Clouds Above (Extra Fancy Edition)
This isn't a new book but it's new to my ownership and so it ends up in this column. This book was published in softcover, hardcover, and extra fancy. The extra fancy version comes wth a silk-screened dust jacket and a signed and numbered bookplate. There were 500 that were numbered and then another 26 that belonged to Jordan Crane and were each given a letter of the alphabet. This one is letter "H." So that is pretty fucking fancy I would say.
Jordan Crane is a cartoonist with supreme abilities. He's great at making lines, hand text, and backgrounds and stuff. This is a cute story about a kid and his talking cat who play hookie from school and go on an adventure in the clouds. Crane has done some more comics detailing this story since the publication of this book. They are also worth checking out. This is beautifully colored also. Did I mention Jordan Crane's great color sense? His colors are good.
Buy Jordan's work here.
You Can Never Beat Me
This is a weirdo 12-page Batman story as told by Patrick Kyle so everything is hilarious and fun to look at. The Joker kidnaps Batman and intends to unmask him so that Batman Comics sales will go down and Joker Comix sales will rise. Robin shows up at the Joker's hideout to save Batman and leaves his bike outside only for it to be stolen by Batman later in the comic. The Joker's head looks different in every panel and at the end he has a breakdown, questioning "Who is Joker?" Every drawing and piece of text is funny to look at and read. I highly HIGHLY recommend this one. More Batman comics, please, Patrick.
Look at Patrick's work here.
Scuzzi and Super Toy
These are two zines that John Pham made and printed on a risograph. Both are the size of fold over zines but are laid out to look like teeny magazines. He even created teeny, half-sized subscriptian cards which are bound into each one. Scuzzi is teeny magazine collecting early, mostly obscure videogame and computer imagery. There are some screencaptures, ads, and portions taken from old computer magazines. There will be lots of pages that you've seen before or look like you've seen them before if you read comics in the 80s or early 90s and then you'll be presented with some beautiful full page spread of something completely unfamiliar.
Supertoy is similarly a collection of pages and imagesbut this one is taken from old action figure magazines. It goes back and forth between images that I find comforting and nostalgic to images that are beautiful. There are some close up photographs taken of images on old TVs so that you can see that grain pattern that old televisions had, like looking through a bug screen sort of.
Look at John's Wikipedia page here.
In the Up Part of the Wave
This is a gigantic wordless comic in which a girl looks upset, goes swimming, and emerges from the water looking happy. Each page is big and full of repeated images and similar things redrawn and drawings of water.
I did a little interview with Lala Albert to see what she had to say about this.
Was this giant zine you made about the lady swimming about a particular event in your life?
Sort of. It's about the feeling of being stuck and then going down and down and under and then coming back up without really knowing why. The idea of being in a wave that goes up and comes down and sucks you back under but then pushes you up again. I feel like this sometimes. I also really like looking at water, but I've never been to the bottom of a river.
I really like the repetition of the first page. It reminded me of Darger's repeated images. I also like to draw like that where I'll draw someone over and over again on top of the other drawings.
Cool thanks. I enjoy the way repetition in drawing looks, kind of like all the animation cells on top of each other. For the paper, it was an interesting way to show something boring like a day where nothing happens.
Check out Lala's work here.
Turtie Needs Work
Ho ho ho, this comic is so cute. This small, teeny comic is a series of two panel comics in which a tiny turtle man agrees to take on a job and then we see him cheerfully doing a bad job at his new career attempt. I love it so much. Do you like to laugh? This thing will squeeze some laughs out of you.
Buy it here.
Finally, a collection of the Black Mass comics all contained within one little bookling. Black Mass is a comic about Turdswallo and Dingbat, two people who live in a world where everything seems to kind of look like it has the consistency of marshmallows. There are punks, metalheads, wizards, and a very soft reality and weird idea of continuity. The characters will die and their spirits will enter new bodies, they will perform magic badly, and everything will fall apart. They will travel in time from drinking a beer. At one point in the comic Patrick Kyle, the cartoonist, gets sick of drawing about the Punk Off and tries to bike to the Punk Haus and is kicked out by the characters he created. It's all very dreamy and hard to explain. Maybe a better writer could explain it but good art is not to be explained, you just have to see it.
This may be the first printed comic I've seen to acknowledge that some of its content originally appeared on the VICE site. Thanks Patrick!
Here's a little interview with Patrick Kyle about his book.
Can you tell me anything about where Black Mass comes from? It feels like a perfect dream logic style story where things shift around and they make sense in the comic but not in real life.
I can't say that it was my intention to make Black Mass dream-like but I'm happy that it reads that way. When I started it I was trying to make something that was really idiotic and fun to draw. I wanted to make it very unreal and try to solve every problem with the least likely answer. As I worked on it and it turned into something more important to me that just throw away comics I tried harder to make the story coherent but that just isn't my strength.
What do your parents think of this book?
My parents and I get along very well and they are very supportive. Most of the copies of Black Mass are being stored at their house in the suburbs. They hadn't seen any of the work in Black Mass until this collection was printed. I have no idea what they actually think of the content in the book and I haven't asked them. I'm sure It's pretty perplexing to them but I think a lot of people look at my work and feel that way. They're very trusting and they've always been happy to let me pursue whatever I wanted to pursue.
What do punks think of your comics?
Anyone who calls themselves a punk would probably hate it. I portray a pretty clear idea of what I believe a punk is in Black Mass, but I don't think anyone like that really exists. They're mostly based on the characters in Return of the Living Dead and Class of Nuke 'Em High.
Buy Black Mass here.
Sell Your Boobs
Lisa Hanawalt made another mini-comic with more of the same funny lists of funny things and hilarious drawings. There are lots of animals and hilariously gross depictions of sex. I feel like I don't have to explain Lisa Hanawalt anymore.
Look at Lisa's work here.
This zine of Heather Benjamin's drawings is all killer and no filler. It's just new beautiful portraits of nude gross women. It is signed and numbered. If you want it, there are only 50 floating around. The lime green cover is neat and the middle page of the zine is larger and on different paper than the rest of the zine. Great design choices throughout.
Check out Heather's work here.
Keeping Two Part Four
How Things Work
This is the fourth part of Jordan Crane's upsetting Keeping Two story. His stories for adults are pretty to look at but have mostly been about dealing with death and depression lately.
Hellen Jo made these buttons of beautiful Asian-looking girls. I love Hellen Jo's art and I love big buttons. I kind of wish she had used some other colors maybe but these are definitely unique.
Check out Hellen's stuff here.
The Secret Voice Volume 2 No. 1 BCGF 2012 EDITION
This is a fantasy comic about a superhero-type character with a cape and a bandaged face dealing with an underground colony of troll people. He goes on what is supposed to be a diplomatic mission but goes into a fugue state during which he cuts off the troll king's hand and then has to fight off hundreds of trolls and escape. It's a pretty fun comic. Recommended to fans of Bone. This was a special edition made for the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Fest in an edition of 40. The specialness comes from the silkscreened cover I am guessing.
Look at Zack's work here.
This comic doesn't have a title on the cover, just a giant cross drawn with two skinny lines. The comic reminds me a little of something Dash Shaw might have made back when he was in art school. The comic is set in a hostpital and the central characters are a nude young boy and a girl covered in bandages with her pigtails sticking out. The boy borrows his nurse's phone so he can play on Twitter where he is very popular. At all times he and the other characters are chipper and talk about religion and don't discuss their terminal illnesses directly. It's a pleasant little sketchbook comic but nothing too ambitious. Good but not great.
Look at Connor's work here.
Ines made a zine of gross pin ups of incredibly gross, hairy women. I like this kind of thing. Ginette Lapalme and Heather Benjamin also make art where women are both sexualized and gross at the same time. Ines herself is kind of gross and sexy. She smelled so bad when I saw her this last time that her stink showed up like four seconds before her and then hung around after she left. C'mon, Ines. Get deoderant. I'll give your comics and zines better reviews if you don't smell yucky.
Look at Ines's work here.
Ripper & Friends
This is a newsprint comic by Ben Marra about some dogs who just want to have fun and avoid the dog catcher and their various enemies who want to fuck with their good time. It seems to be based either on a lot of bad 80s cartoons or the comics that were based on those terrible cartoons. The difference is that they are constantly pissing and shitting, and they have genitals, and in the end they kill all of their human enemies.
Look at Ben's stuff here.
This is a teeny comic that comes sealed in a little red envelope. The art is printed in red ink on yellow paper and is a short little wordless thing about a girl who reads a letter and cries, then smokes, then throws the cigarette at the letter and enjoys watching it burn until the flames engulf her. It's not exactly a nail biter of a story but Hellen Jo's drawings are so pretty and the presentation is so nice that it's worth having.
These are postcard-sized prints of drawings that Domitille Collardey made with black and white ink. They are beautiful, as you can see
Look at Domitille's site here.
The Holy Ghost Guide to Your Day
There's a girl who shows up dressed like the Holy Ghost to the Brooklyn Comics Fest. Last year she gave me a zine about numerology as I recall. This time she gave me a zine about the meaning of days of the week. This zine feels a little like it was a teaching aid made by a crazy person. On the back it says that it is "dedicated to everyone that believes in me."
Get it here.
Thickness is an anthology comic featuring comics that are centered around sex. I thought this issue would be better since Thickness #2 was so great. The first comic in the issue by Lamar Abrams is about girls at an arcade and it's pretty fun although it appears that some of the pages are out of order. The next comic is by Jimmy Beauliieu and it's a well drawn comic with a dumb story about interracial protesting lesbians. I only mention the interacial aspect because they paint each other different colors and it seems to be part of the corny story. There's a cool pinup of two dudes going ass to ass with a double dong. The final comic is a reprint of a gay erotic Japanese comic by Gengoroh Tagame and tells the story of a musclebound professional fighter who is sexually humiliated and severely mutilated in front of a hooded audience. You're supposed to flip to the back of the book and read backwards but I just read through and was greeted with the final image of this intense and horrifying splash page of a guy getting fisted with needles through his dick and thumbtacks stuck in his balls. It was the best comic in the anthology. The I would say that I liked about a quarter of this book but it didn't live up to my expectations. This comic comes bagged with an additional comic by Andy Burkholder called Quiet that's good and involves sexual images morphing into one another and characters noticing the similarities between sexual acts and non-sexual acts.
Get it here.
This is a Finnish comics newsprint anthology. It is better than most of the American newsprint tabloid anthologies I've seen.
There are some nice drawings in here but it's too small to appreciate them very much.
Check out Zach's stuff here.
John F. Malta
John Malta's comic The Professor and the Paperyboy is kind of amazing because it was so huge and the art and text flowed well and there were a lot of cool compositions and ideas.
Look at it here.
This comic is credited to Ed Choy but in between then and now Ed became Annie Mok and crossed out her name on the cover. This comic looks pretty good because it's printed on a risograph. The interior art is kinda shitty and looks like the artist is trying to imitate a modern Disney style but the poses, faces, and everything just looks corny and like it's not based on real observation of human body language. It looks like someone tried to skip figure drawing class and went straight to trying to draw like the not very well designed modern cartoons.
The cover is great though. The cover is wonderful and everything else about this comic sucks. The cover has a great two-color printing thing going on and it has three short and funny true comics about James Joyce. The best one is that there's a comic based on one of his letters to his wife about how he liked to "fuck the farts out of her."
Check out her stuff here.
Crooked Teeth #5 1/2
Nate's stuff is looking more and more like Zack Soto's.
Check out his stuff here.
See you in the future!
Previously - Nick Gazin's Comic Book Love-In #77