May 27 2010, 1:35pm

I was talking to Zach Hazard at MoCCA and I heard him use the term "art comics" like five times. I later heard from some other guys that he used that term around 30 times the day before. I had never heard anyone use that term before, so it made me ask do is this a thing people think or is Zach making some sort of private joke with himself?

People get up their own ass about "art rock," so it follows that they'd do the same about "art comics." From what I can eke out of Zach, in order to make art comics you have to never smile and be skinny with good sunglasses and grungy clothes. Devo said, "Teachers and critics all dance the poot," and they were right. Fuck art comics if they exist. Free your mind from mental slavery.

From first to worst, here's the latest in comics review technology.

The Complete Milt Gross Comic Books and Life Story
Craig Yoe
IDW/Yoe Books

Once upon a time there was an amazing man named Milt Gross and that guy was a household name. He was a great early American cartoonist who drew Sunday comics in a loose slapstick style that'll make you chortle before you even get to his distinctive Yiddishy dialogue. He popularized the no-longer-popular slang term "Banana Oil" and Wikipedia told me that his immortal "Iggy, keep an eye on me!" became a beloved phrase as well. He drew the first real graphic novel, the hilarious and wordless He Done Her Wrong: The Great American Novel And Not A Word In It - No Music Too. There were Milt Gross animated cartoons and books and songs and everything. He even bent down from his elevated status and deigned to draw some laff-filled stories for comic books and all those comic book comics have been wrangled into this boogie-board sized textbook of laffs.

The comics in this book.... These comics...These are some of the funniest comics I ever saw. This is one of those books that's so funny that you forget you're reading comics that are 60 years old. This is like Ren and Stimpy level hilarity. Milt Gross's instantaneously funny visual goofery has a similar sensibility to that of cartoonists like Sam Henderson or Johnny Ryan.

The first story features Pop Ginch. Adored by his wife and son, loathed by his mother-in-law, Pop is a great shiftless lay-a-bout and inventor of shit that usually causes people to fly into the air or experience discomfort. He invents a toaster/percolator which catapults the coffee into his mother-in-law's face. Oh man, how I love that thing. There's also Pete the Pooch, a maniacally vacant-eyed dog who lives to torment his owner. There's also a bunch of other hilarious characters but talking about it's only going to do so much for you. Trying to explain why these comics are great is pointless. Just keep your eye out for this thing and lock your mitts onto it and and never let go.

Gang Bang Bong #1
By Various Artists
Gang Bang Bong

This is one of the best anthology comics ever made. It's not quite the new Zap Comix but it's good. It'll make you laugh, grow a boner, and then puke on the boner you just grew. This was a joint effort between Ginette Lapalme from Canada and Ines Estrada from Mexico. The comics are bilingual with translations appearing at the bottom of each page. Zach Hazard did a comic for it that's both scary and full of funny dialogue and ideas like, "And if I should die before I wake, I pray my soul becomes a snake." Lala Albert created a homo nightmare in which two women erotically eat a giant sundae with eyeball sprinkles that get caught in their teeth. Patrick Kyle and Chris Kuzma from Wowee Zonk further blew it up. Donald Dixon and Sua Yoo are awesome. I'm in here too but I drew mine on the subway so it sucks. You want to see some of the best stuff not in Kramer's? Get this or die frying.

The Complete Peanuts 1975 to 1976
Charles Shulz

Hey hey! New Peanuts anthology. There are some very funny strips in here. Snoopy becomes a guard dog for Peppermint Patty but gets stuck bouncing on a water bed and can't escape while Double-P's house in burglarized. The mailbox gets stuck on Charlie Brown's head on Valentine's Day. Snoopy turns into Joe Motocross and races his doghouse around, getting really roughed up in the process. Charlie Brown is knocked unconscious by his baseball hero and saved by Snoopy who picks him up, carries him over his head, and runs away. Snoopy's brother Spike shows up and Lucy immediately fattens him up. Snoopy takes up jogging so Charlie Brown goes and buys him a human adult's jogging suit which he flails around in to our delight. Woodstock puts on adorable disguises in fear of getting eaten at Thanksgiving. It'll make you happy and sad. It'll make you mad and glad. Snoopy tricks Peppermint Patty into attending school for dog obediance. Snoopy tries to go to Wimbledon but instead trainhops to Kansas City where he visits his sister and his very tall nephew.

I remember Evan Dorkin talking about how once upon a time there were ponderous piles of Peanuts books that all seemed to reprint the same material. You'd read yourself in circles and go crazy from deja vu. This is the 13th set in Fantagraphics's massive attempt to correct the problem and you have to get it if you have the other ones, lest the ADHD demons in your brain jab your concentration with their pitchforks.

Also: I recently met a guy with the word Baboo tattooed on his arm. He was an obnoxious guy who brought his acoustic guitar to a party. He told me that the tattoo commemorated his girlfriend's petname for him. I said, "Cool, like Peanuts," and I think that he had never realized the connection before that moment. Then he called her horrible names.

Lose #2
Michael Deforge
Koyama Press

Everyone's going nuts for Deforge. That Rockabilly Canuck can unleash a mess of oily inky beauty onto a comic. This self-contained story tells the tale of two brothers who come across a dessicated pony, covered in weird spidery creatures. The younger one seems to adore the corpse, which freaks out the older brother. One of the spiders puts the pony's head on top of itself and follows the creepy younger brother around. Soon, humanity is doomed. It's scary, beautiful and totally unrelated to Lose #1, which was a triumph of comics. The follow-up story is Deforge's RPG-ish strip, Cave Adventure, which is a lot easier to to not be upset by.

I will say it over and over, Deforge is one of the best in what I consider the legion of new internet artists. I don't know if this is fair but I would like to declare this as a thing. Ines Estrada, Lala Albert, Me, Zach Hazard, the Wowee Zonks, and Michael DeForge are a new movement of artists. I think we should be referred to as Internet Artists. I do not care if they find this confusing or insulting that I think I am their peer.

Wally Gropius
Tim Hensley

Dan Clowes said that this was his favorite new comic and he was seeing new things in it with each rereading. That's quite an endorsement. This oversized book was originally serialized in Momeand apes the drawing style of teen humor comics from the early 60 and the graphic design of Tintin and other olde tyme goodery. I enjoy the book a lot although I can't tell if it's supposed to be funny or if it's supposed to have a story. Wally Gropius is the richest teen in the world, kind of like that awful cartoon about the teenaged Richie Rich. For some reason his dad wants him to marry the saddest girl in the World. For some other reason he falls in love with a girl who is obsessed with national anthems, for some reason. The only character who makes sense to me are a couple of folks who con Wally out of his money. I understand greed. It may seem like I'm shitting on Wally Gropius but it's more that I'm realizing parts of it that bother me as I write this.

It's kind of like those dreams where you wake up dissatisfied. The art is also awesome and dreamlike. This isn't the new David Boring but if you got the money then this is a pretty book that's fun to look at. I always do this. I try to say something nice and it ends up more like backhanded compliments and I hurt people's feelings. Why do I do this? WHY do I DO this?

Best American Comics Criticism
Edited by Ben Schwartz

You might guess that this book is a snoozer but if that's the case you're a presumptious loser. This book is stellar and will look very sophisticated on your shelf next to Feiffer's The Great Comic Book Heroes, Understanding Comics, and those endledd volumes of "how to draw manga" books. Like the title suggests, it's a buncha writings on comics from various people: Dan Clowes appreciating on Will Elder, someone doing an in-depth analysis of David Boring, an interview with Will Elder, Peter Bagge's article trashing Spiderman and Ditko, Dan Nadel's shitting on that Masters of American Comics art show from a couple years back. This book delivers the goods.

While I was perusing this compendium I was like,"Man… I'd love to be in this thing too, saying smart stuff about shit n' such... But I can't write nearly as good as these folks and I got nothing to say about comics except about which ones rock hard and which ones suck dick." And then the next thing i knew I was reading my own words that I'd written myself. For some reason they included all the Amazon user reviews for Joe Matt's book, Spent, and my maybe-slightly-too-harsh review of it was right there, although I was signed in as my mom at the time that I'd written it. If you get the book, I wrote the final review, titled "Joe Matt: Please Stop Making Comics." I'm not sure if they put mine last because they were making fun of me, thought I was funny, or what. Fuck it. Tom Scharpling said something about how the internet's pretty much just people saying,"That thing? I don't like it," to each other and I stand by that.

Yonic Clonic
Lala Albert
Lala Albert

Lala's stuff is revolting and horny. Sex is gross and sometimes I like it, sometimes I just find it revolting. Yonic Clonic is the name of a nude rock band peopled by alien women who are all named after the color of marker they colored in with. There's Pale Indigo, Pale Lime, and so forth. I used to draw Yonic Clonic comics with Lala back when I still had free time. I wish I could go back to that beautiful time, before I became a slave to low-paying creative work where you spend half your day hounding people over three-month-old invoices. I love this woman, Lala Albert. She needs to work on her drawings of knees and elbows though. Otherwise she is amazing and I highly endorse the weird and gross beauty of her work.

Chris Day
Lost Ghosts Records

Chris is another one of those Closed Caption artists and this mini with a pretty silkscreened cover is another collection of inky black drawings, many of which have an uncorny goth vibe to them. Werewolf carrying a nude woman. A dead ahead coffin with the text "This is where you'll sleep tonight" underneath it. Candelabras and forbidding architecture. Thomas is telling me that the plural is actually "candelabra" but I think that sounds pretentious and confusing. Even for a goth review.

Black Jack Volume No. 10
Osama Tezuka
Vertical Inc.

A long time ago Osama Tezuka created Astro Boy, manga, and a whole bunch of the other parts of our popular culture. Black Jack is a series he did that ran from 1973 to 1983 about a badass doctor who plays by his own rules and helps destitute people. He's also pretty much superhuman. He operates on himself, fights off legions of armed goons, and is a little like Batman if Batman was a surgeon-adventurer who didn't have a secret identity. The comic has the bold cartoony style that Tezuka's famous for but there's some heavy, heavy shit in this book. In one story Black Jack explains how he got his house on the cliff and his relationship with the carpenter who built it which will move you to tears. This is an example of great comics storytelling and for $17 dollars you get more than your money's worth, you cheap, miserly fuckface.

Art of Jaime Hernandez
Todd Hignite

Like everyone else, I love the Hernandez Brothers. This book is pretty cool but I don't know how necessary it is. There are a lot of artists whose work makes me curious to know more about the person who created the thing I love, but Jaime's stories never really did that for me. He's commented in the past how people often seem disappointed to meet him because they really want to meet his characters.

That said, this is a really nice book and if you are curious about who Jaime is and where certain elements from Love and Rockets came from then this book'll give you what you're after. The book starts off with a comic that was serialized in the New York Times Magazine, and reprints family photos and art that's been never seen or is at least relatively unknown. I woulda preferred a book about both Jaime and Gilbert but I might be one of the few. Bottomline: good book about a good guy who makes good things. [single nod]

Hatred For a Human Host: vol 666:suffer vacation
Zach Hazard
self published

This is the kind of mini-comic you love. There's silkscreened cover art, funny notes on the inside, and all the comic seems to be based on Zach's interpretations of crust and grind album art/behavior, like if the world looked like a Napalm Death album cover and was hilarious and scary. Also lots of Zach's trademark puns. "That guy."

Dungeon Quest: Book One
Joe Daly

Some guy with a big head is sick of homework so he gathers up some pals and they go on an RPG-style battle. They swear and say funny thing while having a silly adventure with lots and lots of detailed battles and RPG-style problem solving. It's a fun little book. If you don't like D n' D stuff then you will find this thing to have zero appeal most likely.

Hotwire Comics #3
Various Artists

Like most anthologies this book has some strong stuff and some weak shit.

Rick Altergott handed in a new and amazing comic in which a pretty teenage girl with a creepy dad falls in love with a perverted clown. My reverence for Rick's work know no bounds. His environments and ability to scare me with his intense shadows and turn me on with his sexy girls is almost embarassing. Mary Fleener handed in a good comic about buying a gun; Tim Lane handed in a good and terrifying comic about train-hopping hobos. Danny Hellman handed in some awesome stuff that is slick but also gross, as is his wont. Mack White drew a spooky and stiffly-drawn piece that's pure nightmarishness in positive ways. Mats!? always does it right. His love of line makes his gross out panels look beautiful. Karl WIlls did a clean Tintinesque comic about space travel. Sam Henderson, Sikoryak, Kupperman--you know this.

On the shitty end of the spectrum, this guy Jayr Pulga did a really lame comic with some solid anatomy and forms but lots of needless crosshatching that described nothing. I've never heard of this guy before but I really don't like what he's up to.

Out of 138 pages I like 58 of them which is enough for me to recommend that you get it.

Untitled Lizz Hickey mini-comic with Danny on the covre
Lizz Hickey
Lizz Hickey

This mini-comic has a hand-printed cover and is hand numbered to a hundred copies. It collects redrawn versions of the early stories about Danny, Jeremy and Carol. Jeremy is a bland white guy with long hair who gets irritated easily. Danny is a creepy Korean guy who has a crush on him and has magical abilities which he uses to be near Jeremy. Carol has a crush on Jeremy and hates herself. These characters all seem to represent Lizz Hickey, a talented and funny lady. I love reading about Danny, Jeremy and Carol but hope she starts drawing new adventures for these guys.

Billy Hazelnuts and The Crazy Bird
Tony Millionaire

This book opens with Billy, a gingerbread-man type creature, throwing a cow into a barn while he yells at it. Billy hates animals which is hilarious since he lives on a farm. He tries to beat p an owl and upon realizing that the owl has an owl chick, tries to reconnect the mother and child. He journerys far and yon. He also gets a candy car and gets eaten a few times. It's like a good forgotten fairy tale

Jet Scott Volume 1
Jerry Robinson and Sheldon Stark
Dark Horse

Jerry Robinson is a big deal. He is best known for the period when he worked on Batman and created Robin and the Joker, no matter what that dead jerk Bob Kane claims. This is a big fancy hardcover that collects the earliest Jet Scott newspaper strips from the 50s. Jet Scott is a sci-fi adventurer who goes on Jonny Quest-style adventures with sexy ladies. The stories aren't great but compared to most daily comics it's phenomenal. The reason to buy this thing is because you will want to stare at Jerry Robinson's amazing drawings of pretty girls, heroic dudes, strange locales, and boats and technology and stuff forever. It's amazing how much good drawing he got into each panel without cramping it up.

Abandoned Cars
Tim Lane

This guy's clearly a wee bit influenced by Clowes. Most of his stories start with a close up of some guy's face and mid-90s Clowes-style shading. He mostly deals with loners, drifters, and those people. If you're broke and considering hitting the rails this might persuade you to try suicide instead. Actually, you know what, this book is depressing as fuck. My dad once told me that he bought Spiderman #1 and that it upset him so much that he immediately threw it away. Now he works at a movie theater.

The Goon: Rough Stuff
Eric Powell

This book collects the first three issues of the Goon comic from way back in 1999. As the title implies, the art in the book is pretty amateurish. Poor anatomy, unsophisticated inking abound. If you like the Goon then you'll want to get this thing. Me, I'm not so crazy about the Goon. The main character looks like Sin City's Marv and the action poses and tone of the comic seem to be lifted from Mike Mignola's Hellboy. It even kinda reminds me of Grendel and Madman a little. Basically it's a composite of Dark Horse's biggest comics franchises but without the charm that those comics have. I love Madman to death, think Hellboy is a great story with great art, enjoy Sin City and am entertained by Grendel. The Goon just feels empty to me.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
by Lewis Caroll with Illustrations by Camille Rose Garcia
Collins Design

You know what was getting in the way of my enjoyment of Alice in Wonderland? All those ugly John Tenniel drawings. Having all the illustrations replaced with gothic graffiti style paintings means that I can now look at it without ever having to feel ungoth, even for a moment. FUCK YOU, CAMILLE ROSE GARCIA, YOU GOT SOME MIGHTY BIG BALLS.

Terms of Psychic Warfare 2
Artist unknown

It's an emo-core comic about anthropomorphic fox people who talk about going to the kind of shows were hardcore kids have plugs and lip rings and other. They talk about being nostalgic for some band called "Have Heart". All kinds of awful faggotry ensues. I hate this shit to death. The time to adore yourself is through. From now on it's all gross all the time. And so I'm burning this thing. I also found the comic I meant to burn last column and a zine of postage-sized collages of photos of skateboarding.

Vice Comic Book Witch Hunt #10: Terms of Psychic Warfare from Nick Gazin on Vimeo.


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