Dear Sequential Graphics Enthusiasts,
My name is Nicholas and this is my weekly column for VICE, in which I share news, images, and reviews pertaining to comics, books, illustration, fine art, and general nerd interest.
The biggest news in this installment is also the saddest. Kim Thompson, the co-publisher of Fantagraphics Books for 35 years, has died from cancer. Fantagraphics is the best comics company and has been for a long, long time, way before comics were cool or respected. Throughout its existence, Fantagraphics has led the charge in the battle against mediocrity and stupidity, and Kim was always there on the frontlines, translating foreign books, publishing and hocking wares at conventions and festivals with a friendly and enthusiastic gusto. He used to give me discounts back before I was a guy who wrote reviews, and we all owe him a lot for the good things he produced while alive and the things that will keep happening because of him long after his passing. Thanks for everything, Kim.
You can read a better and more detailed obituary written by Kim's surviving co-publisher and friend, Gary Groth, at the Fantagraphics site.
In much, much lighter news: check out this boss Breaking Bad action figure.
Beetle Bailey is a very sexist comic. It’s so sexist that even when they make a Beetle Bailey toy gun, it's still about harassing women.
Also, this comic.
Apparently Gerard Way pitched a gothy Batman comic to Vertigo that never happened. Nice sketch, though.
The cartoon crossover event you've been waiting for!
This comic by Sam Alden looks pretty. You can buy it here.
Punk Press: Rebel Rock In The Underground Press 1068–1980
Vincent Bernier and Mariel Primois
I don't care if punk is the uncoolest thing in the world. I still get really into these images. This long, tall book features the best covers and excerpts from old magazines about punk rock. It’s got slick magazines as well as Xerox zines. You know what this shit looks like already. This is just a really big book of it on nice, porous paper. It's like all the best stuff from a punk magazine collection condensed into an easy-to-move-with book.
This is a collection of pretty good and pretty OK comics by Sammy Harkham. The ones that are only OK are older, from when Sammy’s drawings weren’t great. The later ones, however, are real good. There are even some things he did for VICE in here, including a comic where I gave him three themes to use. Why didn't he mention VICE or me? Because he is a total jerk. His comics typically revolve around a bunch of abrasive loudmouths whom he or his other main characters have to suffer quietly. One time I saw Sammy Harkham humiliate some actor pal of his at a comic con just like one of the jerks in his comics. I can be abrasive and rude, too, but I acknowledge it. I don't make comics where the flaws of the judgmental narrator are ignored.
Anyway, this is a really good book and I like all of it and you should definitely get it.
You can buy it here.
Edited by Jesse Pearson
Before he became a purveyor of highbrow filth, Jesse Pearson was the editor of VICE. This is what happens after you stop being the VICE editor-in-chief: you look at naked ladies professionally. It's not bad. Come work for VICE, where your golden parachute is made of golden-shower photos.
Several people I know and some I only wish I did are in this book, naked in their own photos or in other people’s. There's Sandy Kim and Maggie Lee, who have been all up inside VICE for a while. There are photos of Aurel Schmidt having sex with a guy who looks better nude than it seems most men are capable of. Nicky Lesser, who I remember as being kind of high and giggly, also has some photos in here. It all starts with a great collection of thoughts from Jesse about nude photos and an admission that he jerked off to some of the pictures in the book.
This is a very good book even though I find myself resenting how all the people in it look good naked while I look like a hairy, angry toad.
You can buy it here and jerk off until you go blind or die or whatever.
You're All Just Jealous of My Jetpack
Drawn & Quarterly
I can't remember if I wrote a review for Tom Gauld's book Goliath, but I really hated it. It was a big humorless thing with no words and panels that took up the entire page. It was about some simply drawn people building a giant robot or something. I don't remember much of the content, just that I thought it was arrogant how he was trying to pass off so little as being so much.
This new book is the opposite of the last, mainly because I enjoyed it a lot. It's also small and every page is a jokeful, jolly time that proves Tom is a funny guy with ideas.
The comics collected in this book are one-pagers that originally appeared in some heavy metal zine called the Guardian. All of them are full of references to books, book knowledge, and literature (which is another word for books).
This book falls into the same genre of comics that Kate Beaton works within. He mixes up the high culture with the low, and it works because both Gauld and Beaton are funny people. My only qualm is it seems to be about congratulating people for getting references to books, and it will probably appeal mostly to smug bores who think they are smart and worldly. Despite that, I like this book a lot.
You can buy it here.
Sun Ra + Aye Aton: Space, Interiors and Exteriors, 1972
Edited by John Corbett
Before I peeled the plastic wrap off of this book I thought it would be more than it was. The cover design is beautiful, with a photo of Sun Ra on the dust jacket that's cut at an angle to reveal an Aye Aton painting underneath it.
There are 12 similar photos of Sun Ra at the front of this book. They all are OK, but very similar. There are also a couple of essays, and then the rest of the book is mostly small, old photos of murals that Aye Aton did. They are nice but it seems like the images in this book weren't made for a wide viewership.
You can buy it here.
See you next week. You can see my last column here.