Comics Carousel: glorious deaths, dinosaurs and tophats
Hello! I haven’t disappeared (much to your disappointment), but life is currently living up to it’s name more than usual, so it will be Thursday posts for a while- News Views, Oddities and Comics Carousel on alternative weeks, with the odd review chipped in here and there. Pushing on then, here’s a selection of what I’ve been looking at recently:
Dark Days by Luke Drozd: Andy bought me this- and he got it signed with a little personalised gravestone. So if you hear of my untimely demise, you know where to start looking. In a short foreword, Drozd muses on his mortality, hoping his death is a ‘spectacular’ one. These strips all deal with that feeling of your own mortality in alternatively very funny, shocking, and thoughtful ways. The standout ones here are ‘He’ which touches on man’s purpose, whether he’s here by chance or design,and the two horse strips, which located in the first and second half, work as a great one/two gag.
Un Petit Carnet de Voyage II: Hiroshima Miyajima & Saigo, Oct 11/12 2008 by Ryan Cecil Smith: I really, really, liked this. It’s a travelogue of sorts, of Cecil-Smith’s visit with some friends to Hiroshima. Three main points about it: Fore-mostly, it feels like a travelogue, there are rougher drawings done obviously on the go and more beautiful, detailed art when there was greater time. Often people edit travelogues to incorporate additional information, polish things up and make it less dis-jointed, and whilst I’m unsure how much of that has taken place here, it has a pace and flow that is kinetic and reflective of the journey at hand. Point the second: I expected this, pre-emptively- to be more about Hiroshima. There are events and names with such powerful connotations that they instantly bring up certain connections in people’s brains: Hiroshima is one of them.
Whilst the awfulness of what happened and things like the Hiroshima Peace Museum and park are talked about, the overall tone is fuller, wider: one of a trip taken, all the things seen- trees, gargoyles, food, transport, people etc. That scope feels right though, there’s no falseness about it and the book is richer for it. There’s an idea there of the way in which society absorbs such atrocities, in commemorating something as an honour and a warning, it instead turns into a tourist destination which people incorporate into their holidays (to be clear -that’s a general point- I’m not accusing Cecil-Smith of that). Lastly, the ending felt a little abrupt, which ties a little I suppose with the first point, it’s not neat and it may not necessarily be what works best, but it’s what happened. Overall, this is a truly impressive work- one of the best things I’ve read in a while, and one you should make an effort to get ahold of.
Eye of Horus by Alabaster: This is incredibly beautifully drawn with a glorious screen-printed cover. Other than that, it’s a fairly straightforward re-telling of Egyptian myth. What it does really well is display an art style that you would associate with the subject matter- an inky, symbol laden, slightly woodcut rendering- rather like dense hieroglyphics in black and white. A good example of art elevating story, with plenty of detail to feast your eyes on.
Ooh La #1 by Hello Aunt Alicia: I bought this at ThoughtBubble (still have unread stuff I bought there) and the collective who produced it, Hello Aunt Alicia- don’t seem to be online anymore. Anyhow, it’s a simple, effective little comic, readable within 2 minutes as the little cave girl goes to search for something to settle the growls of her stomach. Some lovely illustrations and perfect for children in both size, tone and story.
Psychic Detective by Roman Muradov: Muradov is one of those artists whose work I love -how could you not? his illustrations are wonderful- but don’t always understand. Sometimes that makes me feel a little stupid, but I keep buying and reading because a) it’s gorgeous and b) I like to think there’ll come a day when I understand it. Alternatively, it may not just be to my taste, but the art, the ART. He calls his own stuff pretentious, in a nudgy way, so I’m okay going along with that (I could get really knotty and say it’s a satire on the incomprehensibly pretentious, but I don’t want to dig myself into holes). Psychic Detective is probably more accessible than say, some of his strips in the Yellow Zine, but still not entirely decipherable- to me anyway. It features a complex feline: tasteful, cultured, a writer, a thinker, and yet not much detecting takes place (he’s too complicated for that). But let’s not pretend: we are here for the art- Muradov’s illustrations are fine-lined and light and apparently effortless, his colouring richer suggesting melancholy and darker undertones, it’s intricate, yet clear and it’s singular and distinctive and worth the incomprehension. His work is not for everyone, but then, what is?
The Elephant and the Top Hat, Cardboard Press by Katie Blackwood: Ah, you know my predilection for comics that don’t come in books by now, right? Well this was unexpected when it turned up, but a nice surprise. It’s a comic printed on a A4 paper- both sides and folded into a little cardboard pocket. It’s a moral fable, my good people, on top-hats and what can happen when you misuse them. Very slight, to be honest and not worth the price, but trifly distracting.
In the Up Part of the Wave by Lala Albert, Floating World Comics: This is massive- it’s an 8 page A3 sized newsprint comic/zine. Its size serves to surround and immerse the reader in the material, blanking everything else out, so you’re almost literally ‘swimming’ in Albert’s head and thoughts as depicted on the page. There’s this repeated motif of a woman submerging herself into water: trying to keep her head above, wanting to just give in to the lulling rhythm of the waves. There’s an obvious manga influence- that combination of exaggerated beauty and impending terror or doom- albeit to a lesser extent here. As you can probably tell from that starry/ocean/night cover, it’s a dreamy, beautiful piece of work and one which I enjoyed. I’m overcoming my silent comics prejudice step by step- when you don’t even notice a comic hasn’t any words it’s that involving, I think you can declare it a success.
The Last Lonely Saturday by Jordan Crane: Jordan Crane is a bastard who made me cry. For no reason. I have nothing further to say on the matter.