Nick Gazin's Comic Book Love-In #86

By Nick Gazin

Dear Comicos,

My name is Nicholas Gazin, and this is my weekly comics column for VICE in which I share and discuss news pertaining to comics, illustration, fine art, ephemera, and general nerdery. 


Edie Fake did this great magazine cover. I asked him to do comics for VICE a couple years back, and he said that he didn't think his work fit within VICE. Oh well. He's still good. Check out his Tumblr here

There's this website Sneaker Watch, and Fat Joe profiled the 100 ugliest sneakers in a hilarious blog about bad design. 

My pals at Super7 are doing the coolest thing that's been done in the world of overpriced art toys ever. When Ridley Scott's Alien came out the marketing people were trying to pitch it to toy companies as the next Star Wars. There are a few pieces of Alien merchandise from that era that were aimed at kids but the movie is like the scariest thing that anyone ever saw and once people saw the movie they were like "We're not making toys out of this thing." There was one significant 18' Alien doll that came out around the time of the movie but it was pulled from shelves because it scared kids too much. 

Anyway, before everyone realized that making toys based on the movie Alien was a bad idea, Kenner (a toy company that doesn't exist anymore) made prototypes for a line of action figures that were in the same scale and style as their Star Wars action figures. But they never produced them. Super7 got a hold of the prototypes and is making them! Ripley, Ash, Kane, the Xenomorph and a guy in a space suit! So psyched! 

Check out this terryifying commercial for the banned 1979 giant doll. Even the commercal for the toy is scary. 

This is a drawing by Kaneoya Sachiko who James Harvey says is his favorite new illustrator because all of her drawings look like him. I thought this looked like Paul McCartney as an otaku. 

Here are my comic reviews for this week. My top comic of the week is "My Dumb Dirty Eyes" by Lisa Hanawalt. 

#1

My Dumb Dirty Eyes
Lisa Hanawalt 
Drawn & Quarterly

Lisa Hanawalt's back with another book. It's old work, but the book is new and you probably haven't seen all of the stuff in this book unless you are very cool and cyber stalking Lisa Hanawalt. Dirty Dumb Eyes collects drawings, illustrated articles and comics that Lisa did for different magazines and blogs. It's fun and fast and requires zero thought or investment to enjoy. 

While reading this book I realized that although Lisa Hanawalt is known mostly as a person who makes comics, she hardly ever makes comics. Also her best stuff is not her comics. She makes illustrated articles for the most part and those are also the best thing she makes. Her drawings can be any combination of the following things: pretty, funny, disgusting. Also she is very good at making funny observations. I see Lisa as making the kind of work that will someday land her a semi-regular feature in the New Yorker. She is the future Roz Chast. 

Most of the stuff in this book is the best stuff you ever saw. The best of the best are some illustrated movie reviews that Lisa did of the movies Drive and War Horse. She also did a long piece about going to Toy Fair that is similar and very good. She observes the stuff and infuses her own imagination and personality into it and makes something that is like riding around in a little carriage inside her mind. 

The only thing about this book that I don't love is the cover. I think the blue is too dark and conflicts with the black lines. It's page on Amazon appears to have lightened it to make it more clear. Everything else in it is great. 

Here's a little Q and A I did with Lisa about her new book. 

VICE: What's the title from?
Lisa Hanawalt:
 When I was first proposing this book, this is going to sound cheesy, but I was describing it in terms of "seeing the World through Lisa Hanawalt's eyes." And because I'm human I most closely observe the dirtiest and dumbest things.

I really like your movie reviews.
Thanks! I really enjoyed making those.

How do you think of yourself when you describe what you do? Artist? There are very few proper sequential panel style comics in here. 
I say "I'm an artist...and cartoonist and illustrator..." and then I usually trail off because I'm bad at talking about myself. My comics are mostly improper, I agree.

What is your favorite thing to draw?
Everything on the cover: dogs, birds, horses, partial nudity, and modes of transportation.

One thing we both do is have watercolor and ink styles that we employ. I think of my ink stuff as feeling masculine and my watercolor stuff as feeling feminine. Do you feel like you access other specific aspects of your psyche when you use different mediums?
It's fun to switch back and forth, right? I don't really think of different approaches as gendered, it's more of a hard vs. soft or light vs. heavy thing. Right now I'm more interested in shape and color, but of course I can get more detail and control with ink line-work. Variety is always key.

You can buy My Dumb Dirty Eyes here

#2

Cruisin' With The Hound
Spain Rodriguez
Fantagraphics

The back of this book describes it as being like an anti-Happy Days and it's pretty to hard to beat that description. This book collects comics by Spain Rodriguez who died recenrtly. The comics are all set in the fifties and tell stories about Spain's days as a member of the Road Vultures Motorcycle Club. The center of a lot of the stories in this book is Fred Toote, who was the wild n' crazy guy of Spain's group of friends. Spain's comics always feel lively and real and there's this sense that he was probably too cool to be making comics but somehow he was. You can tell he was for real because he put the most energy into drawing motorcycles and cars and his people always look kinda like they're secondary to their machines. Great book from a great artist and story teller. 

Buy it here

#3

'Taint The Meat...It's the Humanity!
Jack Davis
Fantagraphics

Fantagraphics are the kings of good bookness. This book is part of a new series of hardcover, black and white volumes that collect the EC horror and sci-fi comics by artist. It might not sound special but it is in fact VERY SPECIAL. You get the chance to see what most consider the best single group of comics artists evolve in the course of a book. You might think that their work would pop less without colors but it works great. Oftentimes black and white work that's later colored is drawn so densely that the color is needed to tell individual shapes apart but Jack Davis's stuff is totally legible. 

The most exciting thing about art is watching the story of the artist learning their craft and working through problems. The first story in this book is sort of stiff and only vaguely resembles Jack Davis's work. Between the second and the fifth we see him get looser and more comfortable with his work. You can also tell that he's drawing as fast as he can a lot of the time. His lines and shading are always beautiful but his anatomy, faces and animals are often clearly out of his head. Even though he wasn't a perfectionist, Jack Davis's laziness is better than most people's best work. When Davis does invest himself in a drawing it's just a mind bender. This is a must have for anyone who loves horror, EC, Jack Davis, any of that stuff. There are already books collecting Al Williamson and Harvey Kurtzman in this series. 

The image of the two headed boy crawling out of the jar was used on a Lollapalooza shirt from the early nineties. 

Get it here

#4

Out of the Shadows
Mort Meskin
Fantagraphics

The title Out of the Shadows works two ways. The first is that Mort Meskin's work has never been collected before. The other is that his best stuff is dripping with black ink. Shadows everywhere. The stories are just a lot of old timey chatter where people calll each other chum and stuff but the compositions and choices that Mort Meskin made are pretty sophisticated. 

There's one page where a werewolf enters a room and the other characters respond. He chokes a guy to death and then there's a shot of a lady in the room saying a bunch of dumb stuff that people say before a werewolf chomps them and then there's this wordless high contrast panel of the werewolf's attack. 

There's also this one Golden Lad comic in which we see the scene through a porthole and then there's this great panel with a crowdshot where the panel is only partially drawn in. 

This close up shot in the second panel reminds me a lot of David Mazzuchelli. I like how he goes mid shot, close up, mid shot and then in the next row begins an action in the first panel and completes it in the second. 

Get it here

#5

Channel Zero: The Complete Collection
Brian Wood With Becky Wood
Dark Horse Comics

Brian Wood is terrible at drawing and this comic is some bizarre corniness. It's set in a dystopian alternative reality where punks scowl all the time and New York City is a police state where punks get shot in the head by mod cops for spray painting words in a subway train. I feel like I knew a lot of punks who were into this sort of mindset in the early 2000s. I knew punks who would get bio-mech tattoos that made them look like robots and there were these comics that made it seem like going to shows, protests and being vegan made you a sci-fi vigilante or something. I thought it was silly then and I still do. I think it trivializes real issues when you make a fantasy comic that's this close to reality but just off enough that it's not really a metaphor for reality.

So the attitude behind the book sucks and the art that Brian Wood drew sucks. The one saving grace is Beck Cloonan's art, which is good. She got a lot better. One thing that's kind of neat to me is that there's a list of names of people who were killed in a fake riot and on the list is my name and the names of various people I used to hang out with pretty frequently. 

Buy it here

See you next week! Bye!

Previously: 

Nick Gazin's Comic Love-In #85

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