Nick Gazin's Comic Book Love-In #97
Dec 16 2013
Hello Comical Comrades,
This is the semi-regular VICE column about comics, art, illustration, zines, fan-related stuff, and general art/nerd shit as written by me, Nick Gazin, a self-proclaimed comics expert. Mostly, it's just comic reviews.
Did you hear about how Spaghettios tried to commemorate people who died at Pearl Harbor? Copyranter did, and so did Johnny Ryan, who made hilarious parodies where other junk foods mourned tragedies:
Has anyone else heard about this supervillain called Snowflame who is powered by cocaine? Apparently he's a minor meme already. How did I not know about this? I guess this is next year's Halloween costume.
And about those reviews—here are nine of them rated roughly from what I think is the best to what I think is the least best:
Enjoy the Experience: Homemade Records 1958 - 1992
Gregg Turkington, Will Louviere, Johan Kugelberg, Michael Daley
Before people were releasing their albums via Tumblr and before the idea of independent music as a thing, there were a whole lot of losers putting out vanity records. They were made by people who I can't imagine were totally reputable or in love with their jobs, but they did produce some amazing album sleeves. This book collects a lot of the obscure and bizarre images made to accompany the musical product of people who no one else believed in.
Here are some things in the book that grabbed me:
Get it here.
Matt Thurber made a graphic novel that has a lot of the same themes as Videodrome, in which people's relationships to the internet become magical and metaphysical. I don't know how to describe it, but I enjoy it very much. The art is OK, but he concepts are big. BIG.
Get it here.
Rosie Simmons and Jessi Lembo
This is a retarded zine made by two young ladies who intern at Mishka. It's really badly xeroxed and laid out. It reminds me of the terrible zines I made when I was their age. There's an interview with Johnny Ryan, and some other people. Then there's some interviews with the other people who work at Mishka. Anyway, I highly recommend this zine. Its amateurishness makes it charming.
Get it here.
The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story
This big colorful graphic novel tells a very stylized and interpretive version of the life of Brian Epstein starting from the point in his life when he began managing the Beatles. I love the Beatles and you love the Beatles and this book looks really nice but ultimately I fucking hate it. Here's why.
The Fifth Beatle is kind of about Brian Epstein and it's kind of about gay issues, but ultimately they're just used as excuses for someone new to come and rehash Beatlemania.
I had problems with this book before I even cracked it open. Titling it THE fifth Beatle is sort of wrong because there were about 20 people who were referred to as the fifth Beatle at one point or another—Brian Epstein is just one of many. Personally I think it's a stupid term, but if there were a fifth Beatle it would be George Martin.
The next thing that feels off with this cover is the subhead. It's not the Brian Epstein story, it's the story of the Beatles as told from Brian Epstein's point of view. None of Brian's life is covered before he discovered the band.
The third thing that bugged me before even opening the book is the sexy girl hanging out in the top left corner. Brian Epstein was famously gay—why's that girl there? We often associate the Beatles with screaming girls but those girls are clothed high school kids. The woman on the cover doesn't remind me of the Beatles or Brian Epstein, but she does remind me of Mad Men. In fact, this whole book reeks of Mad Men. It feels polished, but fake. The art is done by someone who is a very professional illustrator but not a good comics artist. All of the drawings look very well done but the characters are all wearing the same expression in every panel.
The biggest thing that doesn't really get addressed is that Brian Epstein loved John Lennon and a lot of his devotion to the Beatles stemmed from his adoration of John. There's a part in this comic which portrays the time that John and Brian went on vacation to Barcelona together, but in the comic it shows John rebuffing Brian's advances. According to what I've read they actually messed around and you can read speculations as to what might have happened on this site here. There was even a famous slash fiction movie about it.
To sum it up: Don't get this book if you're a Beatles fan.
Buy it here.
This is a little squad shaped zine by Anthony Cudahy made of blue images printed on yellow paper. Anthony's a real talented guy but you wouldn't know it from this zine. It's not terrible, it's just a whole lot of nothing.
Check out some of Anthony's work here.
As You Were: A Punk Comix Anthology Issue Two
Silver Sprocket Bicycle Club
As You Were is a comic anthology about punk stuff. The first issue was about house shows. This one is about mosh pits. The first time I met Glen Friedman he told me that he brought slamming to the East Coast. He went to LA and all the punks were skanking and stuff. When he got back he was seeing the Bad Brains at the Ratcage and kept doing some sort of sprawling backstroke from one side of the room to the next. He told me that the idea of organized mosh pits and circle pits are the antithesis of what he was trying to do, which was sort of individualistic and chaotic instead of some ritualized rough stuff.
My old friend Jim Kettner did a comic in here in which he says "I friction' love to mosh." I don't understand why a man in his 30s would use that wordage. Using weird halfway swears past a certain age seems kind of weird to me.
The comics in this book are all pretty amateurish. If I could give any of the contributors to this book artistic advice it would be to quit drawing.
Buy it here.
James Ulmer does some very basic little childlike drawings with ballpoint pen and some ink wash stuff. He's not awful, but there's nothing here that I'm not getting from other artists who draw like retards on purpose. My favorite guy who doesn't try is probably David Shrigley. All the other people who try not to draw well need to not try even harder.
Check out some more of his stuff here.
Polar: Came In From The Cold
There's nothing wrong with ripping off Sin City. People have been making some great work by trying to mimic Frank Miller for decades now. The problem with Polar is that there are no new concepts in here—every scene and every visual concept feels lifted from Sin City. There are a few drawings that also remind me of Darwyn Cooke and Paul Grist, too.
What's exciting about reading the first Sin City book is watching Frank Miller try new techniques. The book begins with the main character having normal human proportions, and by the end both his body and Miller's drawing style are completely transformed. This book is just a pretty good work of fan fiction. It could be better, but Victor Santos needs to work on several things. He can't draw feet, the faces are crappy, and the character design is generic.
Buy it here.
This Envelope Full of Garbage
Every now and again people mail me these envelopes of paper scraps. I don't know if it's the same person or different people with no real ideas. Either way, keep it up!
See you guys next week!
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