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Nick Gazin's Comic Book Love-In #51

I skipped last week due to depression. Depression and comics go hand in hand. You read comics alone, you make comics alone, and then you die alone.

by Nick Gazin
Feb 29 2012, 6:00pm

Dear Comic Bookos,

I skipped last week due to depression. Depression and comics go hand in hand. You read comics alone, you make comics alone, and then you die alone. Then some day your comics rot and your art is thrown out or decays and nothing's left. It's just so easy to slip into a depressed state when comics are in your life. Being depressed is like having a fever. It's not hard to enjoy it if you know how. I stayed in bed for two days and read The Walking Dead on my iPhone from beginning to end. 

Here are some other things I did besides read 93 comics and sleep.

Here's a Black Lips Australian tour shirt I drew.

Here's a Wavves Australian tour poster I drew.

Here's a poster for Hardly Art's SXSW show I drew.

Here's a poster for a show in Brooklyn that I drew. 

Ben Marra has an art show up somewhere. Here's an awesome piece of unused Lil B art he did.

And here are my comic reviews. 

Action! Mystery! Thrills! Comic Book Covers of the Golden Age 1933 - 1945
Edited by Greg Sadowski

As comics fans, we should have at least a couple of books about the history of comics at our house. They're usually large coffee table books with a lot of pictures and a title like "Comics!" or "The Comics!" or "The Funnies!" The contents of books like this are usually pretty interchangeable. We've all seen the covers of Action Comics #1 and Superman #1 and Detective #27 a million times. There'll be some images from Buster Brown and Little Nemo and Peanuts and all the big historic comics. You keep running into a lot of the same information and images. This book is a fucking mind blower for me since it's just full-size reproductions of cover art of the most important comic book issues you never saw, printed on glossy paper with information about what makes them so special on the back.

People who don't know old comic books very well see shit like this book and go, "Oh pop art" or they get really into the perverse content, like the cover image of the book showing nazi klansmen sacrificing a white lady in the jungle while a big black guy chucks a spear at them. It's pretty normal to want to see things that are unfamiliar and immediately try to understand them in terms you already know. Judging by how fucking stupid the comments on this site are, the categories that most of you understand art in are either "Fuckin' sick, dude" or "This shit sucks. Brah." The brain of the casual art looker or person who thinks comics are a genre and not a medium will look at this stuff and try to make it ironic or perverse. To appreciate the work in this book you have to turn off those parts of your cynicism and open whatever part of yourself receives beauty. America's golden-age comic books are some of the greatest art our country has produced.

It's kind of a bummer that Fantagraphics went with the most sensational image for the cover of the book. It's certainly the one that'll make the most people say "WTF!" but it's not even in the top 50 prettiest pictures in this book. The appeal of this book isn't "Look how stupid and crazy/racist people were 70 years ago." It seems like a lot of people in music or the fine art world want artists to be naive in what they do. Art collectors/critics are really into the idea that ability and vision just innately bloom out of the artists they like and the place it comes from is a mystery even to the artist. Artists and rockers seem really happy to play into this in public. Basquiat was this rich kid who started doing artsy graffiti and was good looking, so he has this "bad boy from the streets" appeal. I guess part of the reason people want their artists to be naive is because the moment they start thinking about what you're doing you'll start reshaping it so you seem smarter and cooler and you stop being honest.  

Dean Haspiel once told me, "When you think, you stink." Maybe I've said that before in this column but it's worth re-stating. I see the images in here as being sincerely naive, a lot of the time. The art in here is by people who were in their late teens, very early adulthood, a lotta Jews who couldn't get work in other fields, people like that. Youngsters and outsiders. The artists represented in this book range in skill but pretty much every image is beautiful. There are some people who clearly know what they're doing. But the early comics were completely new and there were very few archetypes set up for what a comic book was or could be. I also get the sense that during this era and for many decades following, a lot of people who were making comics really fucking hated doing it and yet somehow still made great work.  

Matthew Forsythe
Drawn & Quarterly

If you like cuteness then holy shit, this comic... this comic. This might be the cutest comic of 2012. The comic starts with a big giant bird in man clothes being pursued by foxes with multiple tails. He turns his staff into a snake and it scares them away and then he sits on a really big egg. Then we see a chubby-faced, giant-headed little girl eating hand rolls that are as big as her. But it was only a dream. A weird monster comes to the door and she gives it some sort of gloppy food which it dumps out. She's insulted but contents herself to eat rice and read comics in bed. I'm not really sure what the point of this comic is but the art's great and the visual concepts are all pretty strong. It reminds me of Spirited Away since that's the main artistic touchstone I have for a chubby-cheeked little Asian girl wandering around in a world with magic creatures that act like people. You can read the entire thing on the toilet so if you're buying this $18 comic it's not for the story anyway. It's beautiful as hell and if you're a cute addict I highly recommend Jinchalo. 

Batman Forever Soundtrack
Connor Willumsen

Connor sent me a couple of other comics but they were no good. This one is though. It's a little mini comic in which he drew out the entire commercial for the Batman Forever soundtrack. This thing:

Twin Spica Volume 10
Kou Yaginuma

Twin Spica is a manga about a future where there's an astronaut school for children. The kids all seem pretty sad and there's a lot of time with them walking around alone at night while on vacation. They all love each other but are clearly sad. Maybe if I hadn't started with the 10th one I would have some clue as to what is going on. 

Jetty patch
Rio Aubry Taylor

This came with a comic called Jetty. I didn't like the comic. I like this patch though.

Previously – Nick Gazin's Comic Book Love-In #50

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