I went to MoCCA and got a whole bunch of rad shit, mostly photocopied little mini-comics. It would probably be difficult for some people to give a bad review to someone that gave them a free comic face-to-face and had a conversation in which they hoped for a good review, but not Sweet Nick! I will give a bad review to the nicest person in the world! I don't care about people's feelings--I only care about comics! RAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!
Stay Away From Other People
Mistakes We Made
I'd never heard of Lisa before she handed me copies of these two mini comics. Her work consists of lists of things that you shouldn't do, psychedelic car crashes, anthropomorphic cats 'n' dogs, celebrations of grotesquerie, and uncomfortable sexuality. Amazing. Stay Away From Other People is a teeny little mini comic with a nice cover. Mistakes We Made is a rushed mini-comic but it's also good. Good as hell. So good. Lisa has some fancy book coming out from Buenaventura so you should snatch up these beautiful little booklets while snatching is still an option. Soon you will be scrambling all over eBay like a dog tripping down stairs in an attempt to own these. Gotta snatch 'em all.
Calvin & Hellen's Bogus Journey
Hellen Jo and Calvin Wong
Hellen and Calvin got help from Derek Yu and made a video game where you play as them, fighting off bizarre little monsters in a never-ending level. This booklet is an instructional booklet on how to play that game and it is a laugh riot. There are all sorts of beautiful drawings with hilarious text describing the enemies of the game, what to do if your game doesn't work, and how to set up the non-existent peripheral game glove. Hellen and Calvin are doing some amazing things.
This has a Mobius vibe to it. Well drawn sci-fi characters run into each other and show off some sort of philosophy about life. Connor kinda draws like Tomer Hanuka or Frank Quitely and is definitely an emerging comicker with enviable hand skills. You'll be seeing this guy in the New Yorker in a matter of years.
A cute 'n' funny fantasy comic in which a little bird knave has a guitar off with an evil tree and then a barbarian causes trouble for a KKK-looking wizard. Calvin Wong always brings the laffs.
Dice And Clay #2
Andy Folk can't draw at all but that adds to the hilarity of his comics. His last comic had me laughing my head off and this one did too. His Dick Plane strip is a real chuckle buster. Bother the fuck out of him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I've been a fan of the Hickee series for a long time. Graham Annable did an awesome comic called Shit Detective. Some people think Graham Annable is a Sam Henderson ripoff but they're totally different. Scott Campbell delivered an amazing jailbreak comic where more and more prisoners want to tag along. It seems like most of the guys involved in the Hickee anthology are also working in video games in art director capacities. That is rad. I want to work in video games.
The Art of Harvey Kurtzman
Denis Kitchen and Paul Buhle
Harvey Kurtzman gave us Mad, the greatest comic book ever made, and this book is a fitting and overdue tribute to the man that gave us our current concept of what comedy is. Harvey Kurtzman was one of the greatest creative geniuses who ever lived and what he did with and for the comics medium is immeasurable. He was a genius who managed geniuses.
This book is amazing. Denis Kitchen, the guy who used to run Kitchen Sink Press, and Paul Buhle, who I never heard of before, did a bang-up job. This book has some rarely seen work and some stuff that was never published before, anywhere, ever. The Archie parody comic that Kurtzman drew as a joke between him and Stan Lee is worth the purchase of the book by itself. They reproduce beautiful original pages at varying scales and you can really get in there and look at Kurtzman's drawing process. They also run a few comic stories in their entirety. When other books about comics only print a portion of a comic I've always felt let down. At no point does this book disappoint. You can just stare and stare and try to figure out how the mind of a genius works.
Crooked Teeth #4
This is a book of scattered thoughts, moments, and disconnected story fragments. Nate is a crusty, crunchy punk I know from the School of Visual Arts. He's got a good attitude and with this comic it appears that he's reached a new plateau of drawing ability. He's skilled in giving his characters and objects a sense of volume. Everything is kinda reminding me of the way that Zack Soto draws. There are some punks, some fantasy, some auto-bio work, and random sketches.
Bury Your Treasure: Illustrations By Becky Cloonan
I've looked up to Becky's ability ever since I first met her at age 18. We used to go to all those Tompkins Square Park punk matinees and stuff and she could just do the cleanest shit. Some of her stuff is beautiful, some of it is cute, some of it is corny, some of it is horny. My favorite thing she currently does is her hilarious web comic Comic Attack. One thing is for certain though: bitch can draw.
Double Fine Action Comics by Scott C. Volume 1
Scott Campbell is not the same guy who used to draw Gen 13--that is J. Scott Campbell. He is not the Scott Campbell who does tattoo art either. No, this Scott Campbell is basically the opposite of those guys. Scott Campbell is the art director at Double Fine, the video game company that made the super amazing game, Psychonauts, and the probably amazing, Brutal Legend. Every day before he starts work he warms up by drawing a daily strip that chronicles the adventures of Two-Headed Baby, the Knight, The Captain, the Muscleman and other people they run into. Scott Campbell's drawings are simple and have beautiful lines. His dialogue is awesome and he really explores simple human interaction in a way that is reminiscent of Achewood.
Boody. The Bizarre Comics of Boody Rogers
Edited by Craig Yoe
This is one of the funniest comics I've ever read, and all I do is read comics. Boody Rogers was a Golden Age cartoonist who appears to be unsuccessfully aping Al Capp's drawing style but I don't care because he draws so funny. Just looking at his drawings makes me laugh.
The jokes in the comics are funny and if you don't laugh at the jokes you'll probably laugh at the funny-looking animals that are hanging out at the bottom of a lot of his panels. You haven't seen a funny drawing of a pig until you see how Boody draws a pig. He's got this character Babe whose dad is always smoking two pipes at once and the angles at which they come out of his mouth are uproariously funny. There's this character named Lippy who's always wanting to kiss Babe and he's got these really long floppy lips that repulse her. There's a character named Hatty whose face we never see because he's just a pair of legs with a hat on, but we are assured that he does in fact have a head. I am laughing while I write this. If you like Johnny Ryan, you should check this out.
And they weren't fooling around with that title. These comics are as weird as hell. There's a character named Sparky Watts who shrinks to the size of a bug if he doesn't get hit with a cosmic ray machine and he lives with a moron who has giant deformed feet. The weirdest thing in this book is probably "The Mysterious Case of Mystery Mountain," starring his female Li'l Abner knockoff, "Babe." Babe is kidnapped by centaurs and ridden around like a horse with a bridle and everything. I think that this may have been the birth of ponyplay. This book is essential. Get it or get out. (Slams car door shut.)
Jesse is blowin' up in people's minds. His conical-hatted character has a shitty relationship with his girlfriend and lives in an evil and awful world. Basically this comic is a vision into hell. I can't think about it anymore, it's given me nightmares. I'll let Lauren Albert finish this review.
Lauren says: I'm not a very good worder, but I'd say I really enjoyed the circular sort of storying as well as the kind of childlike focused ambition of the drawing. I like that he goes on all these ridiculous mystical journeys but still always ends up pretty much exactly the same. It kind of put me in a good mood.
Prince Valiant Vol I 1937 - 1938
You may vaguely remember Prince Valiant comics as those ugly and dull little rectangles of shit that appeared in the Sunday Comics section when you were little and people still read newspapers. Don't confuse that with this. This is one of the greatest works of American art of the past century and fuck you if you were ignorant of this.
Prince Valiant was and is one of the greatest comics of all time and most would agree that it's the greatest adventure comic. This isn't some modern-day garbage storytelling where the main character's some bland wimp trying to prove himself. Reading Prince Valiant has the same thrill as reading Sherlock Holmes. He's smarter, handsomer, and a better fighter than everyone around him. Reading his adventures and watching him sneak around castles, swordfight small armies, and romance medieval bitches is more exciting to me than almost any other comic. I'm getting pumped just thinking about it.
Hal Foster probably had little problem creating a character who was awe-inspiring because Hal was awesome in his own right. His drawings are heartbreakingly beautiful. He understands powerful forms and delicate lines. When Hal is in the midst of skewering foes in battle you can feel the intensity. Prince Valiant has been reprinted before, but this book uses his color engraver's proofs and it's a world of difference. The previous collections look dead and cheap in comparison. It's so beautiful. I want to be Prince Valiant and I want to be Hal Foster.
Adam Beechen and Trevor Hairsine
This is a comic about a team of ninja assassins BUT the twist is that they are also bad-ass rock and rollers and when they curse you can read the first letter and the rest of the letters are little black skull-and-crossbone icons. These badass rocker/killers names? Oh, there's Axe, Amp, Ass, Ivory and Flesh. Rockin' names for rockin' dudes in a rockin' comic. Also they are dressed like a Burger King ad where a bunch of kids are eating burgers and then they get zapped and turn into a punk band. I can only imagine that the reason that this comic exists is that someone tried to explain the concept of rock and roll and punk to the author before elevator doors closed.
At one point the rock band murderer club crew meet a parody of what Marilyn Manson was like in 1996. Also instead of crediting the writer and artist as the "writer" and "artist" they are credited as "Music" and "Lyrics." I know it's stereotypically Vice-y to make fun of people for not being "with it" but it's ridiculous that this person is getting money for writing. There's no story, no real characters, and the jokes and action are uncomfortable to look at like when a retarded child starts making racist comments and you don't know how to react.
Those Dave Berg strips that he made towards the end of his life where it was just him fighting with his doctor were more in touch with what the kids care about. Adam Beechen, you cold have a peter in your mouth. And you look like this:
The Unwritten #1, 2
by Mike Carey and Peter Gross
A friend of mine was complaining that I only review "hipster comics." DC just sent me comics to review so eat a dumpster full of dicks, Mikhail.
I've liked Vertigo comics ever since I was eleven. Sandman, Preacher, and Swamp Thing are all entertaining as fuck and I used to addictively them all. I meet a lot of people who only read Vertigo comics and have tattoos of Sandman characters. The Vertigo line never awakened dormant feelings in me but I'm not going to fault people for being enthusiastic.
This new series is about Tommy Taylor, who as a boy was the subject of a series of fictional books written by his father in which he is a Harry Potter-ish boy wizard. At some point Tommy's writer father disappeared and now he makes his money going to conventions signing autographs. Inevitably it turns out that magic is real and Tommy is pulled into a fantasy world and crazy magic shit happens.
The writing's pretty good. Like a lot of Vertigo books, the interior art sucks and the covers are good. If you like stories where a guy is like, "I don't believe in magic..." and then the next thing you know he's riding a flying carpet or something then this shit is right up your alley.
This comic doesn't come out often enough. Jordan Crane can draw so good and tell stories so good. The first story in this comic is about a couple and the lady is cheating on the dude while he is going to nightschool. It is sad and reminds you of the things about life that suck. The second one reminds you of how fun life can be and is about Simon and his giant talking cat and the fun Muppet Baby-ish adventures they get into while walking to school. Jordan Crane is an immense talent; I just wished he worked faster. He's one of the best new guys of the past five years.
Nick's in a show tonight at the New York Times building, 620 8th Avenue, 7th floor. It starts at 7 PM and there's a shitload of drawers in it too, some of whom he's written about. Yes, that's right, 7 PM. Hot-step it, or whatever your aunt said to you 16 years ago when you were shoving beads up your nose instead of hurrying the fuck up. You're supposed to RSVP and it's too late for that but it's more fun anyway to try to scam your way into things like this.