I am Nicholas Gazin, VICE's comics know-it-all. Don't nobody know more about comic booking than old Nick Gazin. This is my weekly column in which I tell you what's good and what's bad, what's wheat and what's chaff, what's necessary and what's trivial.
Here are reviews of five things I was sent in the mail.
Art & Beauty Nos. 1, 2, & 3
by R Crumb (Zwirner Books)
I receive many fine things in the mail every day for free. In the past month, I got a new pair of Doc Martens, a G-Shock watch, 50 THC cookies, and about a hundred books and comics. It's like I wished on a lucky monkey's paw, and now I get cool stuff in the mail, but instead of bringing happiness, it just makes it harder for me to appreciate the value of objects. However, when I opened the box containing this book, I was so bowled over that I blacked out and hit my head. There was blood everywhere, and when I came to, my cat was lapping up the scarlet puddle that had pooled around my head.
This book collects all three of R Crumb's Art & Beauty Magazines in a hardcover, slipcased volume that has been hand-numbered by someone, probably an intern, and signed by R Crumb himself. I got #348.
The book is full of pretty drawings of ladies by R Crumb, some drawn from life, some drawn from photos. Almost all have giant legs and butts and are accompanied by Crumb's written commentary on why he thought they were worth drawing. Drawing pretty ladies is pretty standard stuff in the visual arts, and Crumb is one of the great treasures of illustration. Crumb's drawings in this book not only show why women are beautiful, but why life is beautiful. I'm glad he exists and shares his drawings with the world. I'm glad this book exists. I'm glad it is mine.
For $150, you can't afford to not buy this.
Buy Art & Beauty.
Weird Love: I Joined a Teen-Age Sex Club!
presented by Clizia Gussoni and Craig Yoe (Yoe Books/IDW)
Every time I assume that Craig and Clizia have run through all the bizarre vintage romance comics produced between the 40s and the 70s, they release a new volume with even more far-out shit in it. If you buy these books and leave them on your coffee table, girls who come over will inevitably Instagram their favorite panels.
These comics, aimed at little girls when initially published, have sensational and ridiculous title pages showing characters exploring corrupt worlds before being pulled back into morality by fear, guilt, love, and shame.
The first titular story stands out as the weirdest. It seems like adult men were dating high school girls a lot more back in the 40s, but I guess people got married younger and died younger then, too.
The next story is about a woman who allows her crush's girlfriend to get attacked by a tiger in the hopes of having him all to herself. Despite attempting to kill her, the comic ends with her just being upset about always being second fiddle. There are no legal repercussions.
The third story is about a girl who pretends to be two additional women in order to keep tabs on her boyfriend while he's a counselor at a summer camp.
There's a comic about how awful hippie hysteria is, which was published in 1968.
There's "Lip Service," which is about a man who can only tell a woman he loves her through his ventriloquist dummy.
Then there's a good one about a clown who loves a lady acrobat. This seems a lot like Paul Pope's Escapo or Tod Browning's Freaks. What is it with people using the circus to tell stories about people falling in love with women outside of their class stratum?
There's this one about a wimpy dude who dates a tough lady. She punches out an attacking bear.
There's "I Married a Maniac," which is sure to upset anyone whose lived through an abusive relationship.
This book delivers more Weird Love and will please those who have the other two volumes.
Buy Weird Love Vol. 3.
I Am a Hero
by Kengo Hanazawa (Dark Horse)
This is a strange and interesting new manga. The main character, Hideo, is an anal retentive and hallucinating manga artist who carries on involved conversations with himself but can hardly communicate with others. Hideo mentions feeling like he's a background character in the story of his girlfriend and her ex-boyfriend, despite proclaiming "I am a hero!" early on in the book. He'll issue lengthy theses about why manga is Japan's greatest cultural export to nobody, but when confronting his girlfriend about suspicions that she's seeing someone he envies creatively, he asks, "D-do you still put… Na-na-Nakata's cock in you…?" She seems to pause but is able to understand his true meaning and reassures him without seeming repulsed. Later, she and many others succumb to zombiism. There's a series of double-page spreads in which she rushes at the reader's point of view that makes for one of the most cinematically frightening moments I've ever seen achieved in the comics form. Somehow Hideo is a member of a firearms club and has a shotgun, which is pretty rare in Japan. He is in his own little world as his co-workers and town all turn into zombies around him.
This Darkhorse Omnibus collects the first two tankoban. I would recommend this one. Zombies are well worn territory, but this offers something new.
Buy I Am a Hero.
Drippy UE Roll 2
by Jen Stark (Logitech)
This is a bluetooth speaker that's about the size of a personal pizza, and it's designed by the very great and famous Jen Stark. In addition to being a small and pretty object that allows you to play music off of your phone, it is waterproof and comes with an inner tube, so you can use it in the bathtub, pool, or ocean. Here is my cat checking it out. It's like a modern version of the Victrola dog recognizing the sound of its master's voice.
I've been bathing with this speaker and strapping it to my handlebars when I bicycle for the past few weeks, and it hasn't shorted out or flown off my bike yet, so I endorse this as a product. Both my bicycling and bathing careers have been greatly enriched.
Buy the Jen Stark speaker.
Demon - Volume 1
by Jason Shiga (First Second)
I wrote a pretty scathing review of the last Jason Shiga book I read, but it didn't make him quit or kill himself. The concept of this book is that the main character tries to kill himself but seems to keep failing. It turns out that every time he kills himself, his consciousness teleports into the body of the person closest to him. He believes this is because he has actually been a demon all along. Soon the comic becomes a game of wits, and the demon guy is trying to stay one step ahead of a detective set on capturing him.
It's a fun concept, and it's executed well enough, but it could be better. It could also be the plot for a TV show.
That's it for this week. Follow me on Instagram if you want more of me in your life.