Hello All You Comical Enthusiasts,
I'm Nick Gazin, and this is my weekly column where I review and discuss comics, zines, art books, and anything nerdy or artsy that seems worthwhile.
It's that special time of year again. New York Comic Con started yesterday, and I'll be there at the Mishka booth (#110) signing, sketching, customizing Run the Jewels record covers, and selling sketchcards. Provided you're over 18, I will sign your dick, ass, or tits. Please bring in homage: money, Haribos, drugs.
Also, I drew this con-exclusive shirt for Mishka. They're only making 40, so come and buy one, and I'll sign it if you want.
Here are 11 things reviewed.
By Arnaud Loumeau (United Dead Artists)
I saw this book at Desert Island Comics, and it blew me away. This is a book of colorful, psychedelic symmetrical drawings done either on graph paper or at least drawn on a grid by Arnaud Loumeau.
There's no text on the front cover, back cover, or spine. There's no indicia. The artist's last name, the title of the book, and the publisher are mentioned very small and close to the binding a few pages in.
In a time when every artist and art object is easily found and researched, it's nice to see a wave of new young creative people who really don't want to be accessible. A lot of the charm of this book is that it feels like an artifact from a dream or a strange movie. United Dead Artists are a French publisher who are really kicking ugliness and mediocrity in the ass and fighting honorably in the war on beauty and quality that has consumed so much of the world's culture.
The colors and shapes that Loumeau uses are candy-like and might remind you of Keiichi Tanaami or Jim Woodring. There's no need to explain this book. You can see from the photos how great it is. Just buy it from United Dead Artists.
Werewolf Jones & Sons
By Simon Hanselmann and HTML Flowers
This cuddly mini-comic is all about the chaotic Megg, Mogg, and Owl characters, Werewolf Jones, and his monstrous and malnutrition'ed brood, Diesel and Jaxon. Despite it's small size, there are six whole stories in this book. The inside is all lines on green paper, which doesn't look as pretty as Simon's fully painted work, but it's still gold.
In the first story, "Qatar Hat Expo," W. W. Jones is forcing his children to make felt hats for him. When it comes time to travel to Qatar, he makes them take knockout pills and climb into garbage bags so he can take them on the plane without paying for plane tickets. They get found out, and Werewolf Jones tears off his clothes and ends up in jail. When his children come to visit him, he asks how the hats are selling on Etsy. They aren't selling at all.
There are five more stories. Some are drawn by Simon's good buddy HTML Flowers. They are OK, although not quite as funny. Still good though. The back cover has WWJ dressed like the dad from Berenstain Bears, which is charming.
Buy it from Simon Hanselmann.
Fragments of Horror
By Junji Ito (Viz Media)
Junji Ito is best known for making the great and scarifying Uzumaki comic a couple decades back. In that one, a whole town becomes obsessed with spirals and people start mutating into horrifying spiral-based monsters until the whole town is sucked up.
In this new collection of old horror stories from the Japanese horror manga master, shit is still creepy in that Japanese horror sort of way. Lots of ghosts and slow-building dread.
One story is about a woman who falls in love with a house. Another story is about a man who cheats on his girlfriend with a psychic who cuts his head off but he can still live, if he just holds it in place forever. Another is about a large old family who are able to wish the ghosts of their relatives to come and stay with them after they die. Another is about a girl who wants to be dissected. Another is a girl who has some disorder where she needs to be told what to do at all times, so her father hires a woman to stand beside her and give her orders all the live-long day.
It will surely give you the Japanese ghost-story heebie-jeebies.
Buy it from Viz Media.
Punks Git Cut Vol. 1
By Jay Howell (Last Gasp)
When I look at this collection of Jay Howell's zines, I just immediately want to throw the book down and start making zines again. Jay Howell is best known for designing Bob's Burgers and Sanjay and Craig on the TV, but he also did some stuff with Trash Talk.
His funny little people all look like cute muppet monsters, and this book will fill you with creative urges. You can see his style evolve over the first half of the book. At the end of the book, there are all these great paintings Jay did on title pages from old paperbacks. It's always cool when a book isn't just a collection of stuff, and you're instead watching an artist mature and pick up speed. This is one of those.
Buy it from Last Gasp.
Edited by Craig Yoe and Fester Faceplant (IDW Publishing/Yoe Books)
Steve Ditko is best known as the guy who created Spider-Man, but he had a long career before and after that. This hardcover book collects them. Some are good, and some are great. It's amazing how much creepiness Ditko could accomplish in such a short amount of pages. I like Craig Yoe and I like what Craig Yoe puts into books. I often feel less than psyched on the cover design for his books, but it's not a huge issue.
Buy it from IDW Publishing.
By Conrad Ventur (Boo Hooray)
Mario Montez was Jack Smith's lover and muse and a great drag queen who appeared in a lot of Andy Warhol's movies. This zine shows some photos and film stills of Mario Montez earlier in his life as well as photos that Conrad Ventur took with Mario in 2010. This zine was made to go along with the Montezland exhibition that was up at the USC Libraries and is a cool object if you're into Warhol and early drag culture.
Buy it from Boo Hooray.
By Ginette Lapalme (Koyama Press)
Ginette is a Canadian lady who is a part of the Wowee Zonk comics collective. Her aesthetic is all about pastel colors, cats, and talking pussies. It's all really cute and neat to look at. A bunch of the comics in this book originally appeared on VICE.com and Ginette's wearing a shirt I drew in her photo, so how come VICE and I didn't get mentioned? What about me???? That's my major take-away. "What about Gazin??????" I wish someone would use that as a quote on the back of their book when they put quotes from their reviews on there. "Critics rave! VICE Magazine says, 'Hey! What about me!?'"
Buy it from Koyama Press.
Same Shit Different Day
By Alexis Gross
This is a zine of color photos where the pictures in each spread relate because one side is from 2013 and the photo on the other side is 2015. I forget which side is which year, but it's a really good photo zine of the same shit everyone likes in photo zines. Punks, random garbage, naked hot people, naked weird people, funny stuff. You know, what a good photo zine is.
Check out Alexis Gross on Instagram.
By William Exley (Nobrow Press)
This is a really prettily drawn comic about a camper who meets a rock monster and the rock monster makes a great tree house. The story's pretty basic, but the art is insanely skillful and cute.
Buy it from Nobrow Press.
Song of Mercury and Black Hole Son
By Jonny Negron
In this mini-comic, Song of Mercury, Jonny Negron drew a comic about a sad man talking to his grandma on the phone about his break-up. Then a ghost girl visits him. There's no awesome thick lady drawings, but it's still good.
Black Hole Son contains some one-off drawings and text about loneliness and hostility and then a roughly drawn comic about police fighting people.
Both of these are fine, but don't deliver the intensity that initially made everyone notice Jonny Negron. Neither do they show off his great color sense, which is one of the strongest elements in his work.
Buy Jonny Negron's art here.
Fantasy Sports No. 1
By Sam Bosma (Nobrow Press)
This is a well-drawn comic about an adventurous duo who live in a world that's like Final Fantasy, and then they have to have a basketball game with a mummy to get a treasure or something. Like a lot of comics, it seems to be heavily referential to video games.
It's well-made, but has nothing going on at its core. In that way, it's a lot like the episodes of Adventure Time, where Finn and Jake get stuck in a haunted gladiator arena. But Adventure Time had a lot of jokes and weird things going on and even subtly seemed to suggest that the gladiator ghosts were in gay partnerships with each other. This book is just a little flat.
Buy it from Nobrow Press.