Carnival of souls: Clive Barker, Julia Gfrörer, Michael DeForge, Beyoncé, My Bloody Valentine, more

* Clive Barker revealed that he worked as a hustler through the publication of Weaveworld in 1987, in a Facebook conversation with the artist Dave McKean. By that point he’d published all six Books of Blood, The Damnation Game, and The Hellbound Heart. Barker is one of my very few heroes, a man who seems to have lived his life and pursued his art the way these things are meant to be done; I’m sad that he clearly remains so saddened by this secret part of his life.

* Julia Gfrörer is publishing a book version of her comic Black Is the Color through Fantagraphics and she posted a hugely impressive comic called “World Within the World” that feels like getting slapped in the face repeatedly.

* Somehow I’d managed not to read “Cody,” a story Michael DeForge serialized on one of his websites last autumn — it’s now all on one continuously scrolling page so there’s no excuse anymore. Turns out it’s a weird, funny, really precise and thoughtful exploration of subcultures and the sacrifices we make of parts of ourselves that are surplus to our chosen identities.

* Also, I somehow whiffed on the announcement that Koyama Press is putting out Michael DeForge’s collected short stories in a volume called Very Casual. It’s a very good time period for that kind of thing, with killer collections from Josh Simmons, Gabrielle Bell, Hans Rickheit, and Sammy Harkham coming out last year as well.

* Zak Smith devises a table of 100 random Tolkien/Jackson elements for your RPG needs. Listing these elements in this way does a few things. First, it’s funny. Second, its list-format-derived fantasy-potpourri feeling gives lie to the notion that Tolkien had a hemmed-in, orderly imagination that made its impact primarily through “realistic” worldbuilding. Third, it gives some shine to Jackson as an interpreter and remixer of Tolkien’s foundational work. Fourth, it demonstrates that both artists have a facility for conjuring very specific and unique emotional or tonal images arising from setting and/or character (eg. “a depressed warrior princess,” “magnificent fireworks”), to go with the genre-related images of creatures and plot points and so on (eg. “enormous, intelligent birds of prey,” “a horde of climbing goblins.”)

* Not unrelated: The Gygaxian lawful/neutral/chaotic//good/neutral/evil schematic for character alignment was some revolutionary ideological rebooting.

* Hellboy colorist Dave Stewart will be coloring Craig Thompson’s forthcoming all-ages graphic novel Space Dumplins. That will look nice.

* Speaking of the Mignolaverse, BPRD cowriters Mignola and Arcudi are doing an armored-supersoldier WWII period piece called Sledgehammer 44 with artist Jason Latour. I hadn’t even heard this was in the works.

* An all-too-rare new comic by Uno Moralez!

* And a less rare but still always welcome Moralez-assembled image/gif gallery!

* My collaborator Matt Rota’s art is getting to that “was this made by human hands?” point. Those pink fleshtones!

* Had to happen eventually: Jonny Negron and cocaine.

* Had to happen eventually: Jonny Negron and animated gifs.

* Had to happen eventually: Jonny Negron and full-color comics. Negron is inevitable.

* I can’t say enough good things about the elliptical fantasy one-pagers my collaborator William Cardini has been putting up lately. What an innovative marriage of format, genre, pacing, and effect.

* How lovely (and unexpected) have Zach Hazard Vaupen’s experiments with color been?


* Andy Burkholder, q v i e t.

* Renee French, “That nightmare goat.”

* This is some immaculate cartooning by Gabrielle Bell. There’s an intensity here I’ve never seen from her before, and her off-kilter way of spotting blacks is really cohering into a statement.

* Colleen Frakes goes dark.

* COOP draws Crowley.

* You’d be hard pressed to find better value for your illustration-enjoying dollar than a “Here’s all the stuff I drew in 2012″ post by Hellen Jo.

* Tom Neely started a tumblr for his porn drawings. They’re gorrrrgeous. (They get much dirtier than the ones below.)




* On a not-dissimilar wavelength, I support these pieces by Garry Leach and John Romita Sr. and thank Benjamin Marra for posting them.


* Robin McConnell interviews Noel Freibert for Inkstuds. His work keeps getting better and white-hotter.


* Simon Hanselmann’s talented and funny enough that his comics have no need to be as raw and powerful as they are.

* I’d love to see Jillian Tamaki’s SuperMutant Magic Academy become the Achewood of the 20teens.

* Gore Verbinski, director of The Ring and The Pirates of the Caribbean, is adapting…Guy Delisle’s Pyongyang?

* Was Kylie Minogue the first person to make music that “sounded like Kylie,” or is there some antecedent of which I’m unaware? (Via Jamieson Cox.)

* I got a great deal out of BuzzFeed’s rundown of 16 great musical happenings from the past month — fine writing about fine music in a variety of styles. One of those things is “Full of Fire,” the 9-plus-minute new single by the Knife, which is relentlessly intense yet never ever aggravating. How they can keep you in that edge-of-panic listening state for that long across repeated listens is beyond me, but I’m glad they’re doing it. I’m glad they’ve constructed this aggressive industrial edifice at the heart of critical attention.

* Before I saw this video for “Heidi’s Head” by Kleenex I’m not sure I’d ever really internalized the way in which punk and post-punk were threatening to the existing rock paradigm, perhaps because I always loved them all equally. But man oh man is this ever the sound of a bunch of young people telling the dinosaurs “We don’t need you.” (Thanks, Douglas Wolk.)

* On the dinosaur side of the equation, I’ve been enjoying Steven Hyden’s “Winners’ History of Rock and Roll” series on enormously successful critic-proof rock bands. The link takes you to the opening installment, on Led Zeppelin, the second-greatest band of all time, isolating the Jimmy Page-concocted “sound” of how the band recorded itself as the key to its lasting success, which seems dead-on to me. He also tackles Kiss and Bon Jovi, the worst and second-worst bands of all time, and Aerosmith, who were very good through Pump and then stopped being good.

* Hey look it’s pictures of Kate Moss and Foxy Brown and Kate Winslet and Michelle Dockery Beyoncé and Beyoncé again and Beyoncé again and Dave Gahan and Rainer Andreeson, for your looking at pictures of attractive people needs.

* Drawings of criminal conduct are not criminal conduct. No one should go to prison for having drawings.

* “we are all responsible for the dialogue we foster, the culture we create, the criticism we enable; a few more hits aren’t worth it”—Tom Spurgeon. I’d forgotten about this quote of Tom’s before browsing some old tweets just now, but I was thinking of something very similar after the long-awaited new album by My Bloody Valentine was suddenly released this Saturday — I found myself preemptively dreading the smartest seen-it-all, above-it-all guy in the room quips I suspected I was bound to see about it online. I’m trying to adopt what my Catholic school teachers used to call “an attitude of gratitude.” With something like MBV and their landmark record Loveless, which is so special and singular, it comes down to acknowledging it as such, and not spraying a bunch of diarrhea into the discourse surrounding a beautiful unique thing or the people that made it. The same thing could probably be said about Beyoncé, a monumental talent who seems to draw out the worst and most dismissive parts of some people. I’ve had a tough run for a while now, and the art that moves me is important to me, and I’m trying to conduct myself in a way that respects that, and surround myself with other people who do the same.

One Response to Carnival of souls: Clive Barker, Julia Gfrörer, Michael DeForge, Beyoncé, My Bloody Valentine, more

  1. A fine attitude to have. I much prefer what seems to be a more European philosophy of criticism, where you look more at the whole body of work rather than leaping on this or that piece that doesn’t satisfy the way some others do. The older I get, the more okay I am with artists being fallible or going off in directions that maybe don’t speak to me as much. Artists are meant to confound and occassionally disappoint, and even if they run dry on inspiration, it doesn’t negate what they did before. Some only have half-a-masterpiece in them, while some can go on for decades releasing one explosion after another with almost no duds.