Hello Comic Bookers,
How are you? I am fine. I am also Nick Gazin, VICE's art editor and comics curator/expert. This is my weekly column in which I review and discuss comics, zines, art books, and anything that is notably great or awful.
In high school, my dad and I would listen to this record a lot. Harvey Comics—who produced the comics about the supernatural children Casper, Wendy, Hot Stuff, and the giant idiot duck, Baby Huey—also made a few records that would get packaged with multi-packs of their comics. This is the only one I've heard, but this is a pretty solid song if you ask me. If you have a copy, I'm looking for one. Please contact me through VICE.
Here are reviews of five things.
1. Don't Worry
By Anna Haifisch (Perfectly Acceptable Press)
To me, personally, Anna Haifisch is one of the greatest artists of this time we live in, right now. I love everything she makes. Her comic series, the Artist (which ran on this website), is one of my favorite creative works ever made. I've read each strip dozens of times, and each panel makes me feel good. I've cried at how much of myself I recognize in her work. I think of specific panels and dialogue and become instantly happy.
With her economic line, limited color palettes, and simple, lanky limbed characters, she has encapsulated every feeling and theme of what it means to be an artist.
This book collects a few different series of single-composition images. There's a smoking frog surrounded by buckets of house paint casually brushing an abstract sculpture. In a section called "Kalifornien," a character paints an angry cat while looking at a sunset. In a section called "Oh Oh," a frog comforts a crying or sleeping frog in the New York subway while waiting for a train under a large ad for Tropicana. Quiet moments full of meaning are rendered with seemingly effortless efficiency. If the point of art is to make you feel like you're not alone in your feelings, then Anna Haifisch is my idea of a great artist.
Buy Don't Worry.
By Derek M. Ballard (Drippy Bone Press)
Derek did some comics for VICE a long time ago and also is one of the many people I've hired who works for Adventure Time.
A dead body is on a gurney while a woman vacuums in a modern house with elements drawn from different perspectives. She's interrupted by a policeman who wants her to check out the dead body, out of which we see multiple creatures emerge. One of the creatures says a strange poem, and the comic ends.
It's not a satisfying story, but it's not really about the literal story. It's a series of beautiful moments, drawings, and abstract words.
Derek also made an accompanying bag of "Ghoulanoid" toys.
3. Howard Nostrand's Nightmares
Edited by Craig Yoe (IDW / Yoe Books)
A lot of people love Jack Davis's drawings, but nobody made a career out of his aping his style like Howard Nostrand. Nostrand's style makes you kind of wonder what was on his mind. He even did the cover art for a bootleg MAD board game with a fake Alfred E. Neuman on the box. There are also comics in here that look very similar to comics from MAD's early color period, especially "Prince Violent!" and Melvin Mole. What's especially funny is that towards the very end of the book is a comic called "What's Happening at... 8:30 PM" that feels equal parts Jack Davis-ripoff and Will Eisner-ripoff.
Considering how unoriginal Nostrand was, these comics are still a lot of fun to look at. It makes me a little sad that someone this skilled didn't try to establish a more unique style. But life is sad and not all artists make the bravest choices. This book is thoroughly worthwhile no matter what.
Buy Howard Nostrand's Nightmares.
4. Wuvable Oaf
By Ed Luce (Fantagraphics)
Wuvable Oaf is about a big, hairy, bald gay guy with a beard who loves kitties, is withdrawn and shy, and has a crush on a surly little man who sings in a metal band called Ejaculoid. If you love Gengoroh Tagame, then you probably already have this book too. If you don't, you should. Although this is a comic about big, giant, hairy gay guys, it's more like Archie than porn and should be enjoyed by all. Let this oaf into your heart and this book onto your coffee table to let people know that you know what's up.
Also, read comics about the titular oaf every Friday on VICE.
Buy Wuvable Oaf.
5. Fight: A Chapter Book
By Sam Spina
This is a little Xeric grant winner from a few years back about a weird-looking creature named FIGHT who just loves to beat people up. He loves it as a kid, and he loves it as a professional boxer. While in the ring, he is introduced to SUPER FIGHT, a lady version of him. They run to each other and French passionately before she proceeds to kick the shit out of him. She goes home and gives birth to a child named FIGHT 64, who immediately beats her up. The original FIGHT monster is living in squalor and trying to survive. The lady FIGHT asks for supplies to heal herself. Meanwhile, FIGHT 64 is beating every living creature he can to death. Without going into detail about how the story plays out, the final image is FIGHT punching out a ref while holding a championship belt aloft.
This comic surprised me several times. I never knew where it was going or what was coming next and that's rare. Sam Spina's drawing style is fun and simple.
See you next week! Follow me on Instagram!