VICE art editor Nick Gazin sorts the comics wheat from the chaff in this week's installment.
My name is Nick Gazin, and this is my column in which I discuss and review comics, zines, art books, and all things great and terrible. Here are some reviews. I include links to help you buy the things online but as always, please see if your local comic store has it in stock first.
#1. Cretian Cow
By Gengoroh Tagame (Massive Goods)
This is a bear fetish comic by Japanese porno comics legend Gengoroh Tagame. The prince of Athens is a restrained sex slave for the minotaur, who rapes the prince every few hours for three months. The book concludes with the prince anally birthing a miniature minotaur. The comic's final page contains Tagame's science-fiction explanation of the logic behind the minotaur's reproductive cycle. This seems pretty cute. You don't need to justify why you drew the Minotaur fucking a tied-up guy to me.
Buy Cretian Cow.
#2. A Love Letter to the City
By Stephen Powers (Princeton Architectural Press)
ESPO is one of the few people making money doing street art that doesn't make my stomach churn. I love his style, the things, he writes, that beautiful cover for Kurt Vile's Wakin' on a Sunny Daze. Keep being great, Espo.
By Nick Drnaso (Drawn and Quarterly)
This is a book collection of short stories mostly about fat depressed white people and the dumb clods and horrible values that torture them. The first story is about a guy whose job is picking up trash, and he betrays the only real person he works with. Another is about a fat mom watching a TV show with her mute daughter thinking they'll be asked to review the show, but they end up answering a questionnaire that is just about the commercials. Another comic in here seems to be based on the podcast Serial. Another is about a family on vacation with a son who is creepy and mute and imagines himself as a gimp-masked murdering giant who slaughters everyone he sees.
All of the characters faces seem like stiff masks, and the message is that everyone sucks and our lives are as empty and hollow as our fake smiles. The stories move forward at a good clip, and the art isn't hideous. It's also not beautiful. It's just kinda OK. We all know the world is a shallow shopping mall that sells lies, this book doesn't really deliver something new for me. Maybe it will for you. I don't know. Who cares. I don't even like the comics I think this comic is imitating.
#4. Puke Force
By Brian Chippendale (Drawn and Quarterly)
Brian Chippendale draws beautiful things with his ratty, scratchy, shaky black lines. He understand textures and color on a higher level than most. The cover's very pretty and the insides are fine, but I find the story and dialogue boring. After ten pages of not caring, I abandoned the story and flipped through the book to just look at the drawings. The book is best when it's not a comic and just shows us a pretty and large drawing. There are similarities to Gary Panter or Matthew Thurber. Now Brian Chippendale will read this and think, "Fuck Nick Gazin and VICE. Who needs them?" That wasn't my intention, but I'm not a good enough writer that I can get away with being pleasantly dishonest.
Buy Puke Force.
#5. Maakies Newspaper
By Tony Millionaire (Desert Island)
Maakies got made into a fold-over newspaper. All of the comics in here are old ones, but it's a nice presentation. Just sit down at the bus stop and unfold your Maakies newspaper and start complaining about the news like you're reading a real newspaper.
Buy Maakies Newspaper.
#6. Kill Pretty issue #2
Kill Pretty is a real nostalgia trip and seems like a product of the late 90s. It's a print magazine that's mostly photos of graffiti. The magazine also includes a nude photo shoot with adult film performer April O'Neil wearing a proton pack. There's an interview with Harmony Korine and photos of people puking through animal masks. There are also some awful comics. It's a total throwback to old graf mags like Mass Appeal and Life Sucks Die.
Buy Kill Pretty issue #2.
#7. Jem and the Holograms
By Kelly Thompson, Sophie Campbell, and M. Victoria Robado (IDW)
I love Jem a lot and have a pretty decent Jem doll collection. I have also dressed up like Jem. Jem is a really positive force in my life. In the past few years, there have been attempts to revive Jem with new dolls, a makeup line, a terrible movie, and this comic. It's hard to say if the attempts are successful because Jem feels so rooted in the 1980s visually and culturally. It was a time when everyone had new-wave hair and makeup and record companies had a lot of money and people listened to rock music. The world of Jem is a total fantasy intended for kids, but that fantasy is based in a world that doesn't resemble our own anymore. There are female pop stars who are glamorous and wear costumes like Jem, but they're singers like Lady Gaga and Katy Perry. I don't think it's possible to tell Jem stories set in modern times.
I really liked Sophie Campbell's art in Wet Moon. Her drawings in Jem are good, but I wish the coloring was a little less intense and the panel compositions were less claustrophobic.
#8. SuperTrash: Hermaphro Chic, Movie Fetish, 21st Century Anxiety
By Jacques Boyreau (Fantagraphics)
I've been reading and re-reading parts of this book for months, and I have no idea what it's about.
#9. Dennis P. Eichhorn's Extra Good Stuff
By Dennis P. Eichhorn and various illustrators (Last Gasp)
I bought one of Eichhorn's old comics about true stories from his actual life about a decade ago and wondered why he thinks he is interesting enough to be the subject of his own comics. Now this new book is out, and it sucks too. Terrible book.
Buy Extra Good Stuff.
#10. The Age of Selfishness
By Dartyl Cunningham (Abrams)
Totally unreadable and hideous to look at. There's so much text that it's like looking at R. Crumb's brother's comics after he'd gone insane.
Check back next week for more reviews and follow Nick Gazin on Instagram.