Nick Gazin's Comic Book Love-In #110

VICE art editor Nick Gazin sorts the comics wheat from the chaff, from Simon Hanselmann's new book to the latest offerings by veterans Julie Doucet and John Porcellino.

by Nick Gazin
Apr 4 2016, 11:44pm

Hello All,

I'm Nick Gazin, and this is the weekly VICE comics review column in which I let you know what you should read and what you should avoid. If you contact me, I can tell you other things you should do too. Let me run your reading itinerary and your whole life.

Here are ten things that I've reviewed. I include links that you can use to purchase the books directly from their publishers, but I encourage everyone to patronize their local comic stores.

#1. Amsterdam
By Simon Hanselmann (Fantagraphics)

Simon Hanselmann is perhaps the best new-ish cartoonist going right now. When trying to convince people that comics can be cool, good, fun, enjoyable, relatable, and pretty, I always use his books as an example.

If you're unfamiliar with Simon's work, you can read the stuff we've published of his on this very site. Most of this book is on this website, but the experience of reading a book and looking at a website isn't the same. Books are great, paper is perfect.

The comics in this book are about a group of friends who all seem to hate each other. There's a witch named Megg, her cat boyfriend, their giant Owl roommate, and their sociopathic friend Werewolf Jones.

A whole lot of stuff happens in Amsterdam, from Megg and Mogg chugging giant bottles of Red Bull to Werewolf Jones's nude Zelda marathons. There's infidelity, suffering, beak-breaking, and various other pains for the reader's enjoyment. At the end of the last book, Owl had a moment of isolated tranquility. At the end of Amsterdam, Megg retreats into herself with mood-stabilizing drugs. Will Mogg be alone at the end of the next book? We all die alone, and we all read comics alone.

You can cuddle up on your couch either by yourself or with your favorite drugs and just read it, touch it, smell the paper, and be in love with it. Books rule, the internet drools. Paper rules forever.

I love this book, I love Simon Hanselmann.

Buy Amsterdam.

#2. Elevator Teeth
Published by Perfectly Acceptable Press

This is an avant-garde comic that feels a little influenced by primitive computer games with its grids and silhouettes. There's text, images, figures, and things that seem to be about the Bible, the creation of man—it doesn't matter. Whatever it means, it's a nice object full of pretty colors, patterns, and images.

Buy Elevator Teeth.

#3. HAX
By Lale Westvind (Breakdown Press)

Lale Westvind has some great Hairy Who/Gary Panter silkscreen magic happening in her work. This color zine starts with some portraits of pained-faced women before launching into a wordless story that I couldn't follow but enjoyed looking at. For some reason the cover, which is very beautiful, looks nothing like the insides, which are also beautiful. I'd like to see more things from Lale that look like the cover. I'd like to see more covers that look like the insides. The cover paper is waxed and soft. Touching this book is half its beauty. When you experience a book, it should appeal to all of your senses except taste. Keep your mouths off the books.

Buy HAX.

#4. Star Wrs
By Mark Todd

Mark Todd made 70 of these so you probably can't get one now, but I still want to put Mark Todd on your radar. This fine book is a fine, fine book—as fine as a book can be.

Mark retells the story of the movie Star Wars as if he's vaguely remembering from having seen it decades ago. Dialogue is flipped, characters are flopped, but the story is told successfully with good jokings and fine, fine drawings. Mark Todd's lines are so beautiful to me. I'm all about line quality. I don't fuck around with people who have an unsophisticated line. One of the first major steps of learning to draw is learning to love the immediacy of mark-making. You have to be able to love drawing before you even get into the concept of making an image. Mark Todd, I love your line, and I can tell that you love your line too. Line lovers for life.

Buy Star Wrs.

#5. Horn Please
By Dan Eckstein (powerHouse Books)

In India, the trucks are made into beautiful art, and this book documents it. Not much more needs to be said. The whole book is pretty photos of these mundane machines that have been transformed into sublimely beautiful, giant, mobile art objects.

Buy Horn Please.

#6. The Complete Junior and Sunny
By Al Feldstein (IDW/Futurism)

Before Al Feldstein drew, wrote, and edited pornographically scary comics for EC, he wrote and drew some way-too-sexy Archie knock-off comics in the 1940s. All the female characters in this book have over-rendered sweater drapery, defining their racks in a way that makes the fabric look wet and clingy. On top of tits being the star of the comic, the main characters all have these double-bubble pompadour hairstyles that look like inflated bosoms on top of their foreheads.

There's one story in here where the fake-Betty and fake-Veronica audition to be models for a department store and model lingerie for an adult man at their high school. Check this out if you have a fetish for tight sweaters.

Buy The Complete Junior and Sunny.

#7. The Blonde Woman
By Aidan Koch (Space Face)

Aidan Koch has a lot of good ideas and some taste, but she's not pushing herself hard enough in this book.

Buy The Blonde Woman.

#8. The Hospital Suite
By John Porcellino (Drawn & Quarterly)

Reading about John Porcellino's numerous life-threatening ailments and overwhelming physical pain caused me to believe I was experiencing the same symptoms. I began to see spots, and I stopped reading about halfway through. It was too much for me. The experience of the book overwhelmed me. My gut response to this book is, "Jesus Christ, we've all got to band together to help John Porcellino! Who knew a human was capable of suffering this much without dying!?"

Buy The Hospital Suite.

#9. Sink All Night
By Caramel Bobby

I bought this sealed Caramel Bobby zine, and when I opened it I found out that I don't like Caramel Bobby. I guess that's a pretty funny trick. People talk him up so much that I thought he was good. The cover's nice, but ultimately this zine is nothing and was made by someone not trying. Trying is never cool, but very few good artists are cool.

Check out Caramel Bobby.

#10. Carpet Sweeper Tales
By Julie Doucet (Drawn & Quarterly)

Julie Doucet has made a lot of great comics, but this isn't one of them. After a long departure from comics, she's returned, but instead of doing work at all similar to her old stuff she's made a collaged fumetti made from old advertisements. The book instructs you to read the text aloud, so I did, but I was still disappointed. I applaud Doucet for taking risks, and I also didn't like this book.

Buy Carpet Sweeper.

That's it for this week. Check back next week, and I'll tell you what to do some more! Follow me on Instagram!