Archive for August 31, 2011

Carnival of souls: Special “post-outage” edition

August 31, 2011

* I wrote a well-received post on feminism and A Song of Ice and Fire over on my ASoIaF tumblr, in response to this pretty bad piece by Sady Doyle and this very good one by Alyssa Rosenberg. Spoilers abound at all three, so be careful. Related, and less spoilery: my big problem with the way the non-Western cultures in A Song of Ice and Fire are portrayed.

* Jeez, the hits just keep on coming in the comics world: The Center for Cartoon Studies’ library was flooded during Hurricane Irene. The books are basically okay, but the building’s screwed.

* On the Sparkplug/Dylan Williams front, Chris Mautner recommends six Sparkplug books you should consider purchasing to a) help out, and b) read great comics.

* And in happier news, this is a terrific idea: The Library of Congress is creating the Small Press Expo Collection, which will permanently archive all of the Ignatz Award nominees and select self-published books and minicomics.

* And if you enjoy alternative comics in the slightest, Rob Clough’s Top 50 Comics of 2010 is well worth your time. You’ll find a lot of the usual suspects on here, and he and I have a lot of overlap, but he orders things in an idiosyncratic way that will make you think about what you liked best and why.

* George Lucas added a bunch more nonsense–and I mean that, it’s nonsense, it’s stuff that it doesn’t really make sense to add–to the Blu-Ray editions of the original Star Wars trilogy. I’m in broad agreement with what Rob Bricken says about this at the link. It’s perfectly fine for George Lucas to do whatever he likes with his movies. He doesn’t owe me anything. It would just be nice if I could own a nice hi-def copy of the movies I loved growing up as they existed when I was growing up.

* Brigid Alverson put together a highlight reel from a recent Dan DiDio/Jim Lee interview about the rebooted DC Universe and its concurrent digital-comics initiative.

* Jeez, Sam Humphries sure knows what he’s doing.

* Zak Smith/Sabbath on what Rem Koolhaas can tell us about Dungeons & Dragons. (Now that’s a tough sentence to top.)

* William Monahan, the guy who adapted The Departed is doing a draft of Frank Miller’s Sin City 2 script. Sure, I’ll eat it.

* Here’s the cover and creator line-up for Thickness #2, the latest issue of Michael DeForge and Ryan Sands’s alt/art smut comics anthology series.

* Both Rolling Stone’s Matthew Perpetua and Pitchfork’s Tom Breihan interviewed the Rapture’s Luke Jenner about his band’s comeback album, and he comes across like a mensch in both. He’s quite candid about why former co-frontman Mattie Safer left the band following his own return to it after he himself quit a few years back, but Safer emerges as a sympathetic figure too. He thought he was now the undisputed leader of the band, and then that was taken away from him. You can easily see how that would weigh on a guy.

* Jonny Negron is a talented person.

* This is what Ben Katchor used to draw like!

* Now and forever the King. (Additional thoughts.)

(A quick programming note: Though a hurricane-related internet outage appears to have resolved itself as mysteriously as it started (on Monday morning, well after the winds from a hurricane during which we never lost power or cable had died down), I’m still having some unrelated computer problems, as well as spending a lot of time writing for other outlets. So if you don’t see me here as often, that’s why.)

Carnival of souls: Special “Support Dylan Williams and Sparkplug Comic Books” edition

August 25, 2011

* Publisher Dylan Williams of Sparkplug Comic Books is battling cancer without medical insurance. Please help him out in the best possible way: Buy some Sparkplug comics. I posted some recommendations at Robot 6, along with some thoughts about just how unique and valuable a publisher Sparkplug really is. Meanwhile, Floating World is holding a two-day benefit sale, if you live in Portland and/or are a Phillip K. Dick fan (explanation at the link).

* What a horrifying story: Syrian security forces abducted, beat, and broke the hands of political cartoonist Ali Ferzat before dumping him on the side of the road. The mafia-like cruelty and chutzpah of Bashar al-Assad and his underlings on display in this attack really takes the breath away. I wonder if this is a case the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund can help out with in some way.

* Bummer: The great film scholar Kristin Thompson won’t be writing the Hobbit-centric sequel she’d planned to The Frodo Franchise, her book about the multimedia business of turning The Lord of the Rings from a book to a movie to a cross-platform empire. She’s also shuttering her ongoing blog on the subject.

* John Porcellino on the things he learned from redrawing one page of the Kirby/Lee Fantastic Four.

* Jason Adams on Trollhunter, which seems like a hoot and a half. After the unrelenting stream of insectoid aliens, J-horror knockoffs, and corroded/decrepit slasher/torture baddies, it’s just such a pleasure to see a monster that looks different from all of the other monsters.

* It’s like Nick Gazin reached into my head and pulled out the exact words I’d have used to describe the Smurfs movie.

* Guy Perez’s cover version of Al Plastino’s Superboy #6 cover is my favorite Covered contribution in a long time.

* I hereby invite you to read “Bongcheon-Dong Ghost” by Horang, one of the scariest webcomcs I’ve come across in a while. Leave your speakers on. More about the comic at Robot 6.


August 24, 2011

Page 15 of “Destructor and the Lady” has been posted.

Carnival of souls: Ignatz Awards, Atomic Comics, Jerry Leiber, more

August 22, 2011

* Sammy Harkham, Edie Fake, and Michael DeForge lead a strong slate of Ignatz Award nominees this year. Who knows — maybe the voters will throw the obviously undeserving Chris Ware a pity win.

* Here’s the latest in a series of dispiriting interviews with the gifted superhero comics writer Grant Morrison. It’s related to this Rolling Stone profile, which in turn is accompanied by this quite good “best of Grant Morrison” list by Matthew Perpetua.

* The large Arizona comics retail chain Atomic Comics has abruptly gone out of business, with owner Mike Malve filing for bankruptcy. Comics people I talked to about this today were pretty freaked out.

* In a rare return to his home turf Jog the Blog, Joe McCulloch presents a short bit of (also rare lately) writing on art comics, among other things, with his Top Ten Comics list.

* Tucker Stone really liked Ryan Cecil Smith’s SF #1. I liked it too.

* Secret Acres’ Barry and Leon present their PACC con report. They also note that Dylan Williams of the very valuable comics publisher Sparkplug is ill, which I’m sad to hear. Get well, Dylan!

* Wow: Tom Neely is working on one of Matt Maxwell’s Western-horror Strangeways comics.

* Here’s a neat-looking project from Split Lip writer and nascent-horror-blogosphere veteran Sam Costello and artist Neal Von Flue: Labor and Love, a collection of four comics adaptations of American folk ballads. It debuts at SPX.

* Zak Smith on the most disturbing room in D&D.

* Matt Rota draws the Republican Party in action for the New York Times.

* Jerry Leiber, half of the Leiber/Stoller songwriting team, has died. What a monstrous talent.

Carnival of souls: Jim Hanley’s, Jim Henley, Beck Hansen, Hannes Bok, more

August 17, 2011

* Jim Hanley’s Universe is the best comic shop I’ve ever been to. Ten years ago, my adult life in comics began there, when I paid a visit to pick up Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s New X-Men on a whim. It’s been my “local comic shop” for most of the rest of the decade. So I was stunned and sadden to hear that Hanley’s Staten Island branch was all but swept away by flooding this past weekend. All that they’re asking in terms of help is that you drop by either branch and buy something, so today I stopped in and picked up Jesse Moynihan’s Forming Vol. 1 from Nowbrow and Alan Moore & Kevin O’Neill’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol. 3: Century #2—1969 from Top Shelf. Spending forty bucks on comics has rarely felt so good. If you’re in the city, please support this wonderful store.

* If you care about Beck or what used to be called alternative music at all, you definitely want to read Ryan Dombral’s career-spanning interview with Beck at Pitchfork. What a thoughtful, honest guy he seems like. I was heartbroken to read that he lost two years’ worth of Sea Change-style music — 35 songs in all — when he misplaced a suitcase full of recordings prior to shifting gears and recording Guero with leftover ideas from the Dust Brothers, but even more horrifying is that apparently he’s never heard anyone talk nicely about his masterpiece, Midnite Vultures, and thus is sitting on 25 songs recorded in the same period. This is a travesty. From now on, if you see Beck, tell him you loved Midnite Vultures.

* Clive Barker has a prose essay collection out? Or coming out soon? Called The Painter, the Creature, and the Father of Lies? Nice.

* Say, did I mention that ADDXSTC-fave bloggers Jim Henley and Bruce Baugh have a new RPG blog called 20 X 20 Room? Probably not, since despite one or the other of them telling me so, I only really realized it yesterday. Well, now you know. They’re two of the smartest and most humanistic writers on gaming and genre art around, and you’d be hard pressed to find two bloggers more influential on my non-blogging life than they.

* John Porcellino presents his personal Top Ten Comics. It’s a pleasure to hear the great cartoonist talk about some of the other great cartoonists (Clowes and Kirby get two books apiece), as well as some off-the-beaten-path choices.

* Kevin Czap of Comix Cube reports from the Philadelphia Alternative Comics Convention, a well-regarded newcomer on the regional alt/art show scene. I don’t think there’s any reason why every city with a decent-sized number of alternative cartoonists can’t put together something like this, even if the result doesn’t end up with the high profile of a BCGF or Stumptown or TCAF or whatever.

* Benjamin Marra crushes the competition with this New Gods tribute. Omega Effect annihilation. MARRA IS!

* Speaking of Ben, who I remind you I’ll bless him for digging this up. It’s like He-Man and Skeletor are fighting in the middle of an issue of Cold Heat.

* I don’t know who Steingrim Veum is, but he sure can draw orgies. This is wonderful stuff. (Via Tom Spurgeon.)

* Aeron Alfrey has put together another astonishing art gallery for his site Monster Brains, this time starring pulp cover artist Hannes Bok. In addition to stippling that’d make Drew Friedman jealous, Bok makes his otherworld creatures and scenes truly otherworldly. If there’s one thing we’ve lost from decades of seeing monsters come to life on movie screens — and don’t get me wrong, I treasure a lot of those monsters — it’s their uncanniness. It’s very very rare to see a monster that makes you feel like you’ve endangered yourself simply by seeing it.

Have a Comics Time all the time

August 16, 2011

I’m pleased to announce that the Comics Reviews section of the sidebar is now fully up to date. All of my recent Comics Time reviews have been added, and all the links lead to the relevant review here at rather than at my old site. That’s in the neighborhood of 500 reviews. Please browse and enjoy.

Comics Time: Tales Designed to Thrizzle #5

August 16, 2011

Tales Designed to Thrizzle #5
Michael Kupperman, writer/artist
Fantagraphics, 2009
32 pages
Buy it from Fantagraphics

(Originally posted at this blog’s previous location on May 26, 2009; I am reposting it because it does not seem to have made the move to the current site.)

By now I’ve written about how Kupperman’s humor works at some length, so you’d think it would have occurred to me by now that his humor is an entirely different animal from the vast majority of humor comics. Which it is, insofar as it’s funny and most humor comics aren’t. But it wasn’t until this (ironically) prose-heavy issue that I realized he’s not doing gag comics at all. The only four-panel punchline-driven strip in this entire book, “Ever-Approaching Grandpa,” basically exists to give lie to the notion of the four-panel punchline-driven strip (and is own title). He’s not content with using just the words and the visuals. I think what Kupperman’s doing–with his long, digressive “stories,” with his riffs on old-fashioned comic-book covers, and so on–is using the stuff of comics itself as a locus of the comedy. A grid of panels implies continuity of action, so he uses that to present an increasingly bizarre and disjointed Twain & Einstein adventure with barely any internal cohesion whatsoever. We assume that captions or word balloons will comment on the visuals against which they are juxtaposed, so he creates a how-to arts-and-crafts strip that for no apparent reason is also a brutal noir (“How to Pattern Print with a Potato, Johnny”). We’ve come to accept certain visual cues as meaning a certain thing, so he literalizes them so that they mean something entirely different–a phone in the extreme foreground actually turns out to be a just-plain gigantic phone; a mother’s wagging finger radiates motion lines that turn out to be “super-vibrations.” In his way, Kupperman’s just as concerned with making comics’ formal aspects work for him as Chris Ware. In his way he’s every bit as effective. Goddammit this book is funny.

Go, read: Tom Spurgeon on his absence, his illness, and life in comics

August 14, 2011

You won’t read anything better this year. You are the best, Tom.

Carnival of souls: Anders Nilsen, drawings of attractive ladies, Boardwalk Empire, more

August 14, 2011

* Tremendous interview with Anders Nilsen about Big Questions by Alex Dueben on CBR. “It’s my newest book, but it’s also my oldest.” Wow, can you imagine? Big Questions was the first comic Nilsen ever did, and it’s about to be released in its finished 600-page form.

* Some of the Harry Potter movie people are working on a deal to make a mult-movie adaptation of Stephen King’s The Stand. That could certainly be very good, though in all likelihood it’ll be overwrought and mediocre with interesting moments like most big Hollywood versions of good ideas these days.

* The House Next Door’s Sumanth Prabhaker on Grant Morrison’s historicist reading of superhero comics, including his own, in Supergods.

* Filing this away for when I’ve read the book: Hayley Campbell reviews Like a Sniper Lining Up His Shot by Jacques Tardi and Jean-Patrick Manchette for The Comics Journal.

* Apparently Julie Doucet’s cat carrier has sat at the bottom of the back stairs of the Fantagraphics office since 1993. This fits very well with my preexisting mental picture of the Fantagraphics office.

* Well this is certainly a great ad for The Beguiling that Michael DeForge drew. How many characters do you recognize? I got all but three or four, I think.

* Uno Moralez is creepy and sexy.

* Jonny Negron goddamn

* Yow–this new group sketchblog Ashcan All-Stars is doing Sin City and doing it well. In order: James Stokoe, Moritat, Sheldon Vella.

* No, seriously, it’s uncool how much I’m enjoying The Walking Dead‘s woes. They’ve all got mothers, you know?

* If there’s one thing HBO knows how to do, it’s make trailers that make their shows look like the baddest things ever. Boardwalk Empire is pretty great regardless, though.

Music Time: Jay-Z and Kanye West – Watch the Throne

August 12, 2011

Crossposted from All Leather Must Be Boiled.

On Watch the Throne, the new collaborative album by Jay-Z and Kanye West, the title phrase or a variation on it is uttered nine times over the course of sixteen songs. Meanwhile, a recurring orchestral sample — its nervous energy evoking the spooky bits of Magical Mystery Tour, sinister ’60s children’s movies, and the shifty-eyed rhythm of Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android” — shows up in looped form as an unofficial theme at the end or beginning of four separate tracks, including the opener “No Church in the Wild” above.

Did this remind anyone else of George R.R. Martin’s character mantras/catchphrases from A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones? “If I look back I am lost.” “Where whores go.” “It rhymes with…” “She’s been fucking [names redacted] for all I know…” “Kill the boy.” “You know nothing, Jon Snow.” “Valar Morghulis.” “Weese, Dunsen, Polliver, Raff the Sweetling…” In each of these cases, these are phrases that wounded, worried minds keep circling back and back and back to, obsessively. They’re phrases they cling to and phrases that haunt them.

Can you think of a better way to describe what the the repetition of the words “watch the throne” might mean to two men whose unquestioned position at the top of their field means, as Jay-Z puts it, that the only place they can find an opponent is in the mirror?

I’ve been writing a post comparing Watch the Throne to ASoIaF/GoT since my first listen, but when you play the game of Game of Thrones comparisons, you publish or you perish. Oh well! I actually don’t mind that other people have gotten there first, because it means that the initial, incorrect critical narrative about the album — two rich people rapping about how rich they are, which is bad because of the debt deal and the London riots or something — is falling by the wayside. It’s as if the pressure to turn reviews of an important album around in 24 hours (due to the record’s unexpected, exclusive, leak-thwarting midnight release on iTunes) led critics to forget that anything ever happened at any other time. If it’s not okay to rap about fame and wealth to a struggling audience, then flush the last two decades of hip-hop, including multiple chart-topping critically acclaimed albums by Jay-Z and Kanye West, down the toilet.

But not only is the thesis ridiculous, it’s not even accurate. Obviously Kanye and Jay rap a lot about their money and the stuff they’ve bought with it on this album, and obviously the names they’re dropping are high-end and/or highfalutin’ enough to stand out to critics under deadline pressure. (I bet the Museum of Modern Art didn’t expect to have almost as much of a role on this record as Frank Ocean does.) But you’d almost have to purposefully ignore the rest of the lyrics, and most importantly the sound of the thing, to think that’s all there is to it, to characterize this album as a less forceful-sounding Rick Ross record. For all the talk about life at the top, they seem about as comfortable there as Robert Baratheon, Eddard Stark, and the stained knight Jaime Lannister. The music is foreboding and paranoid, minor-key prog samples, witch house synths, and soul legends chopped and pitch-shifted into demon shouts and banshee wails. The lyrics describe difficulties — from Jay-Z copping to depression, to Kanye’s R. Crumb-like dissections of his sexuality and misogyny, to overcoming the obstacles of a racist society to “make it in America” only to discover that the higher they go, the fewer people like them they find — that go a lot deeper than the usual litany of complaints about haters and biters. Both aspects of the record are embodied by those repetitions — that cycling, recurring, uncomfortable theme music; “watch the throne, watch the throne, watch the throne,” over and over again. If they were comfortable on the damn thing, they wouldn’t constantly be telling themselves and everyone else not to take their eyes off it for a second.

Jay-Z Kanye West “Why I Love You”

Battle on Bonesbane Mountain

August 11, 2011

Page 14 of “Destructor and the Lady” has been posted. This is the big one.


August 11, 2011

I’ll be attending the Small Press Expo in Bethesda, Maryland this year, hopefully with wife and kid in tow. As you can imagine I am very much not the star of the Collins Family Show, but on the off chance that you’re still interested in seeing me, I’ll be moderating a couple of panels with some of my favorite cartoonists on Saturday, September 10th.

Excruciating Detail: Drawing the Grotesque
1:00 pm | White Flint Amphitheater
Historical comics ranging from Chester Gould’s Dick Tracy to the horror comics of the 1950s have specialized in images of the grotesque. Sean T. Collins will speak with cartoonists Lisa Hanawalt (I Want You), Benjamin Marra (Night Business), Tom Neely (The Wolf), and Johnny Ryan (Prison Pit) about the act of drawing horrific, visceral, visual detail in contemporary comics that speak to horrors that are both timeless and contemporary.

Craig Thompson Q+A
3:00 pm | White Flint Amphitheater
Following on the heels of his sensitive tale of departure Good-bye Chunky Rice, Craig Thompson came to national attention in 2003 with his massive, autobiographically-based graphic novel Blankets. Eight years later, Thompson has completed his next graphic novel, Habibi, a love story set in the Middle East and patterned after the visual cadences of Arabic calligraphy and Islamic art. Thompson will discuss his work in a conversation with Sean T. Collins.

You can find the entire slate of programming here. Bill Kartalopoulos put together quite a line-up. Hope to see you there!

Carnival of souls: My top 10 comics of all time, Matt Rota, Cindy & Biscuit, more

August 10, 2011

* Click here to find a list of my ten favorite comics, more or less.

* My friend and collaborator Matt Rota has an art show opening up on Saturday, August 13 at L.A.’s Copro Gallery. The art in it looks like this:

* Jeez it is a pleasure to witness Joe McCulloch’s return to writing about alternative comics, specifically one of my top three favorite cartoonists and one of the very best comics short stories of all time: Phoebe Gloeckner and “Minnie’s 3rd Love.”

* Meredith Gran on the importance of supporting women cartoonists buy paying them to draw comics.

* Ben Morse on the best of Ultimate Spider-Man, which has been a very good comic for more than a decade.

* The degree of schadenfreude I’m feeling from The Walking Dead TV show’s behind-the-scenes woes is unseemly.

* Six ancient things that were probably built by aliens. Nearly a decade and a half after I first read Illuminatus! and 20-25 years after I first heard of Stonehenge and Atlantis and Easter Island and so on, this kind of thing still gives me chills.

* There’s not a whole lot in comics right now more fun than the way Dan White draws Cindy & Biscuit launching themselves through the air at monsters they’re about to dispatch

* I can certainly support the idea of Miles Fisher as a male, American, horror/parody-video-making Robyn. (See also.) Bonus points for casting Steffi from The Bold and the Beautiful in the Kelly Kapowski role and the closing homage to Hellraiser III. (Now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write.)

Comics Time: The Heavy Hand

August 10, 2011

The Heavy Hand
Chris C. Cilla, writer/artist
Sparkplug, 2010
108 pages
Buy it from Sparkplug
Buy it from

Fascinating book, this. It combines the textural, noise-based visual aesthetic of caves and monsters and melty stuff that you may have seen from many of Chris Cilla’s fellow contributors to the Paper Rodeo and Kramers Ergot anthologies with the down’n’out beer-swillin’ shit-talkin’ big-schnozzed characters of ’90s altcomix (big noses are to alternative what big feet were to the underground), so right off the top it’s doing something unexpected. And in the same way that the art is both densely intense and breezily funny, the story somehow coheres from jokey banter, grand-guignol monster attacks, and surreal non sequitur splash pages into an utterly convincing world. The Heavy Hand is basically the tale of Alvin Crabshack, somewhat feckless young guy who picks up stakes and moves from the city to a remote research site in hopes of bluffing his way into the employ of a scientist he admires, at which point he is drawn into a crescendoing series of bizarre science-fictional events — and it works great on both sides of that descriptive sentence’s comma.

Regarding the first half, Cilla’s command of the details of a young life not particularly well lived is substantial. Just for example, look at the way he differentiates between the two women Alvin is (duplicituously) dating by how he dresses both their rooms and themselves — the first has a neat haircut and sits in bed reading one book among many well-ordered shelves, candles and wine glasses strewn here and there; the second we meet as she cracks open a beer and picks a cassette tape off a table sporting a used ashtray and half-eaten dishes, all while bare-ass naked — while giving both sequences a sordid, stiff-nippled sexiness, a squalid heat that comes from lying to someone you know intimately and resent at least as much as you enjoy.

Of course, the second woman has a duck’s beak instead of a nose, which leads us to the strangeness. Obviously this wouldn’t be the first time an alternative comic featured unexplained anthropomorphism in an otherwise realistic setting, so I didn’t pay it much attention — nor the weird, wordless opening sequence in which some kind of ghostly scientist fixes both a machine and a cup of coffee by pissing all over them. But as Alvin’s journey progresses, we come to learn that not only is he basically lying his way into working with his academic idol, but the work he’ll be doing is considerably more odd and dangerous than the book’s opening makes it sound. Rival grant-sponsored teams plumb a system of caverns and underground rivers for giant eggs that contain dead reptiles, while huge and deadly one-eyed protoplasmic creatures devour their pack donkeys…which in turn hearkens back to tall tale about a curse on a nearby town that led to its affliction with these strange animals…which we suddenly realize relates to the odd interstitial splashes and spreads depicting a mustachioed man and giant spiders and so on…which we eventually learn aren’t the non-narrative interruptions they appear to be but an integral part of the story at hand…which culminates in a tour-de-force party sequence where the romantic entanglements and awkward interpersonal interactions of the beginning of the book come back into play. These competing, seemingly clashing narrative and visual threads slowly enmesh and intertwine so organically that you hardly notice, until suddenly you realize they’ve sewn up a structure so sturdy you could spend hours climbing around inside it.

My only complaint is that you don’t get that kind of time. As fun as that party scene is — I really love the way all of the dialogue is disconnected, with never more than two word balloons actually commenting on one another; it’s a great way to convey feeling out of place in an inebriated crowd — it eats up a huge amount of space relative to the densely plotted rest of the book, and rockets everything to its explosive conclusion way too fast. The Lynchian epilogue is as engrossing as anything else in the book, but it made me pine for a nonexistent much longer version, one that didn’t cut itself off right when it became apparent how rich and compelling it was. But since so much of the plot is driven by an anecdote about an inventor whose life basically had to blow up before he could do what would make him rich for the rest of his life, it’s hard for me to get too upset that the book itself follows suit. Wanting more is surely a sign that this smart, biting work of literary science-fiction comics did something right.

Carnival of souls: Ben Katchor, Jordan Crane, Jonny Negron, more

August 8, 2011

* I literally cheered for this piece by the Comics Grid’s Katlheen Dunley on Ben Katchor and the world as a palimpsest.

* Chester Brown’s Paying For It: The Movie is probably not gonna happen.

* Jordan Crane’s The Last Lonely Saturday: The Movie actually has happened!

* My Spider-Man is black.

* News flash: Fantagraphics’ Jacob Covey-designed Carl Barks Disney Ducks comics are going to be very attractive.

* Tom Spurgeon’s description does a terrific job of selling Bill Mauldin’s Willie and Joe Back Home, but really, the cartoon on the cover speaks volumes. Can you imagine seeing this at the time? Lately it has seemed to me that deflating America’s self-image of World War II and its aftermath is vital to the country’s long-term health, and man, is this a shot to the face of those notions.

* Maybe I should just outsource this whole blog to Jonny Negron.

* And speaking of ADDXSTC “Hey look at this art” favorites, I don’t know if this Wei Yan piece is an homage to similarly formatted Renee French drawings, but either way, very nice.

* I won’t spoil the latest Zach Hazard Vaupen gag comic for you. Vaupen’s Rusted Skin stuff is fascinating to me, because comedically it’s totally gag comics, but visually it’s not at all. There’s nothing else like that.

* Okay, a Batman video game in which you have the option of playing as Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns Batman is a Batman video game I’d enjoy playing, but only if playing as that Batman.

* You know, it’s been way, way too long since I simply looked at a picture of Katee Sackhoff and went “guh.” Guh.


August 2, 2011

Page 13 of “Destructor and the Lady” has been posted.

Carnival of souls: Special “San Diego detritus” edition

August 1, 2011

* Daybreak author Brian Ralph is doing a diary comic about his time at the San Diego Comic-Con this year for The Comics Journal. So far, so great. It starts off jaunty and funny and actually kind of uplifting, until, thanks to cameos from Tom Devlin and Peggy Burns and some personal revelations, it suddenly starts feeling like an outtake from A Serious Man.

* And here’s a nice interview with him at Giant Robot, too. (Via Drawn & Quarterly.)

* Now you can watch the Hernandez Brothers spotlight panel at San Diego from the comfort of your own home, courtesy of The Comics Journal!

Love & Rockets from The Comics Journal on Vimeo.

* And here’s a brief history of Fantagraphics courtesy of CBR’s report on their 35th Anniversary panel.

* The Hooded Utilitarian is posting the results of its first-ever critics poll on the 115 best comics ever. I chipped in a list, which you’ll see eventually.

* Tom Spurgeon, Steve Bissette, and Tom Spurgeon again on the Marvel/Kirby case.

* Jason Adams reviews several recent-ish movies of semi-note: The Devil’s Double, Cowboys & Aliens, Crazy Stupid Love, and Sucker Punch. I’m with him on Zack Snyder’s action choreography — it’s nice to be able to tell what’s going on and what happened to whom when a punch is thrown.

* Michael DeForge turned 24 today; to celebrate, he posted afreakingnother terrific comic page.

* Lovin’ that Jonny Negron.

* Finally, this essay hit me where I live: Middle-school history teacher Dwight Simon on all the ways we teach children to love war. The points on violence as a vector for redemption and violence as a supra-religion were depressingly on point. (Via Andrew Sullivan.)

Comics Time: Love and Rockets: New Stories #4

August 1, 2011

Love and Rockets: New Stories #4
Gilbert Hernandez, Jaime Hernandez, writers/artists
Fantagraphics, August 2011
104 pages
Buy it from Fantagraphics
Buy it from

Love and Rockets: New Stories #4 will turn any fan of Los Bros Hernandez into the host of The Chris Farley Show. “Remember? That time? When you drew Calvin’s plaid shirt? So that the plaid was always facing in the same direction? No matter how much Calvin moved?…That was awesome.” I am seriously finding it difficult, if not impossible, to review this comic without simply hitting the bullets-and-numbering button and whipping up a list of everything in it that amazed me. It would be a long list, too. But I’m abstaining as much as I can — to challenge myself for starters, and to avoid spoiling the comic for those of you who haven’t yet read it (which is probably most of you since it’s not out yet) for the most part. But I’m also holding off on that listicle because I think it’s a cheat. The fact of the matter is that while reading this book I discovered that I’m at least as attached to Ray Dominguez and Fritz Martinez, the protagonists of Jaime and Gilbert’s contributions respectively, as I am to a decent number of real people in my life. So sure, I could rattle off the ways in which Xaime and Beto continually prove themselves to be among the most graphically inventive and entertaining cartoonists alive some three decades into their careers — the crosshatching on Ray’s shirt and Maggie’s sofa; Gilbert’s use of wavy, puddle-shaped, impenetrable fields of black in his vampire story; the impact of the just-this-side-of-parallel lines of Angel’s body as she bends her leg to put on a high heel; the upside-down lava-lamp shape of Fritz’s legs in a skirt, used as an anchor for panel after panel of her simply walking around town with her agent ex; dredging up a long-ago, possibly long-forgotten character, drawing him as a late-middle-aged man in a way that makes him unrecognizable until you realize just how recognizable he is; the smashed-skull-as-cubist-masterpiece in Gilbert’s customary burst of horrifying ultraviolence; the holy shit moment when you realize the visual structure to that montage spread from Jaime’s story; Gilbert storming the ramparts of the vampire story and launching sex and violence back into it like payloads from a trebuchet; Jaime serving up a story whose snapshot style echoes comparable material from “Wigwam Bam” in significant and story-relevant ways; tracing the similarities and differences between Killer and Fritz via the characters they play, the use of their amazing bodies fraught with story information. And hey, look at that, I did rattle them off! But in the end, how it looks pales in insignificance next to what happens, because making it look that good is a means to the end of imparting just how much what happens matters. Ray’s shirt and Fritz’s legs, the shadow of the vampire and the structure of the montage — they’re just landmarks to remind you where you were when you found out if Ray and Fritz and Maggie were going to get happy endings, or not. It’s the easiest thing in the world to understand, and it’s the hardest thing in the world to do, and it’s magic, pure magic, to do it this well.