Christina and Charles
By Austin English
Published by Sparkplug Comic Books
6" x 9" ; 76 pages
Austin English's delightfully Art Brut (though, lets face it - outsider art isn't really outsider anymore) comic is a character study of Christina and Charles, two teenagers who might be friends if they actually met. Being overly illustrative can often hinder the emotional impact of comics - and English proves the effectiveness of simplicity. The childlike cover was a bold shock on the comic rack and caught my eye immediately. His "let's just get to it" story and art is immediate and lovely. The main characters stand before us telling us of blase events in much the same fashion as a teenager in life. Christina's words particularly seem as real and as well chosen as any of Enid and Rebecca's dialogue in Ghost World. Gorgeous Stuff.
By Anders Nilsen
Published By Drawn and Quarterly
7" X 9" 48 pages
Full color cover, black and white inside
Big Questions by Anders Nilsen undoubtedly has the most beautiful covers of any comic out right now. The design is economical, yet completely romantic. Nilsen's drawing, elegant and simple, tells the story extremely effectively, even when there is little dialogue. The story focuses on a group of birds in a forest caught up in religious conundrums when a jet plane crashes into the house of the old woman who had fed them and kills her. They mistake the plane as some sort of great bird, and a grenade from it's wreckage as an egg. Big Questions is a children's book for adults, with shades of Watership Down, Winnie the Pooh and the Little Prince.
Issue #9 is out now in which the birds defend the sacred explosion site from scavenging crows and predators philosophize. Buy it at your favorite comic shop or order it from Quimby's - who also have certain back issues.
Apollo Astro #9: The Journey of George
By Jack Turnbull
8.5" x 10.5; 32 pages
Silkscreen cover, Black and white photocopy interior
This is a lovely little handmade comic with a beautiful 3 color (one of them most notably being gold) cover from young Jack Turnbull, a student at RISD. The Journey of George is the whimsical tale of George Potato and his pal Veggie who are separated under dire circumstances. The story is whimsical, and perhaps not fully developed - but charming nonetheless, and Turnbull's expressive brushwork goes a long way in making this an entirely delightful read. Tremendous displayed on your favorite end-table.
you can buy Apollo Astro at the utterly convenient Catastrophe Shop.
After two long weeks away, I am finally back in New York. I got in late late and had a dinner date at diner with my pal. It's so nice to be home! While eating, a friend came up asked where I'd been. When I said San Francisco, she was like wow yeah you look really San Francisco'd out—maybe it's your hair. I think maybe it's because I needed a shower and had been wearing the same clothes for days. Speaking of dirty hair, tight jeans, and San Francisco... Among the collection of great bay area zines and books I picked up at the awesome Needles and Pens was a new issue of Tales of Blarg! In the past, Janelle Hessig, zinester, comic artist and punk rock personality, has brought us such gems as a recipe for the poor woman's daquiri, crazy dance moves like the shopping cart and the sprinkler, and crusty punk haiku. This new issue doesn't disappoint with features like "Ugly People I Want To Do It To" and "Shitting is the New Crying." Yay Tales of Blarg! Someone on the Needles and Pens site so wisely put it: "Tales of Blarg is great - It's like Sex and the City for 30 year old punk chicks." Now I'm just waiting for a collection of issues of Jank (a single folded page of hilarity from Janelle and a fellow named Jeff Jank. Janelle, if you're reading, send us some JANK!
Last night I was looking through old photos and papers in search of a lost sleeve of negatives from a road trip. I got sidetracked on the way by a collection of old Fort Thunder posters. Providence was so fun back then! When I started spending more time in Providence, I met the boys from Fort Thunder, a warehouse/art collective in Olneyville. Their warehouse was like a big colorful maze of stuff and artwork. I remember one night sleeping over in a mess of blankets in front of a precariously piled television wall. There had lots of art and music shows, and weird wrestling nights. I had some lovely times there and wish I'd stayed in touch. So I googled them. And found some good links:
New Bodega: group comics blog
Savage Pencils: another group art blog
A recent NYT review of a show at RISD including many Fort Thunder artists.
Bodega Distribution sells books by some of the Fort Thunder artists.
(pictured: from Brian Ralph's Monster at the Beach.)
By Lorenzo Mattotti
32 pages Black and White, 2-color cover,
8 1/2” x 11", with jacket
Italian artist Lorenzo Mattotti's lush Chimera begins with lovely thin brushstrokes and sparse compositions of innocent children watching the sky. The creatures they envision in the clouds take over the narrative (stealing it actually), and as night spreads out over the landscape the ink strokes grow dense and sometimes impenetrable. The Chimera here seems to be the hybrid creatures of imagination and nature. A simple concept perhaps - but Mattotti's gorgeous brushwork imbues the story with mythic power. An expressive work printed on thick drawing paper, with a smell that reminds me of childhood coloring books.
available from Fantagraphic Books
Brian Ralph was one of the first people I met in Providence when I moved there. Imagine my surprise when I wandered into a cute store called Doubledutch Boutique in Baltimore yesterday only to discover that the shop was owned by his wife, they have a kid, and he teaches at the Maryland Institute College of Art.
I bought episode number one of his comic Daybreak, which I'd seen some of on the group comic blog New Bodega. I love it. His comics seem to mostly take place in and around piles of rubble and his heros are marooned humans, bored monkeys, cavemen and robots. I don't really know how to describe his style of drawing, except that I find it immensely satisfying to look at. It's warm, and charming, and mysterious, and there's a lot of fantastic looking broken wood pieces everywhere.
Buy his comics at cool stores, from his website, or from Bodega Distribution. P.S., Baltimore is fun. I met a bunch of goofballs who live in old houses with layers and layers of wallpaper and collections of thrifted items, and they have dogs, and they do things like stage human pyramids and water ballets, and I had a pretty decent smothered burrito (don't worry Denver, it wasn't as good as yours). I want to go back and take more photos, meet more people. Atomic Books and its sister store Atomic Pop have tons of zines and comics.
I first saw/met the Daughters of Houdini at a Valentine's Day event at Artists' Television Access in San Francisco. They were sewn together, facing each other, with messy red yarn. It was barely loose enough to allow them to sit next to each other, shoulders smooshed together. I thought they seemed really exciting. The Daughters, Zoey Kroll and Carolyn Ryder Cooley, held performances and events around town but I was sort of too shy to go to them so instead I bought all their zines. They made these little photocopied items with stories and scratchy drawings. Their interests included: rats, bees, medical stuff, accordion, circus-y stuff, hysteria, witches, blood, pee, bodies, sex, childhood games involving rope and swimming holes and horses and funny feelings in certain places. Some of my favorites are the Daughters of Houdini Medical Series. For your viewing enjoyment, I've scanned 7 pages of Naughty Nursie, My Bloody Sister #3.
Carolyn Ryder Cooley is making art and has relocated to New York. Go look at her site and keep an eye out for any events she might have. Zoey Kroll, I'm not sure where you are, but if you're making stuff, let us know!
Continue Reading Daughters of Houdini
Top Shelf publishes a lot of the best young talent in comics - and they've risen to amazing success because of it. To celebrate their 10 year anniversary, this Monday April 9th thru Wednesday April 18th, 125 titles will be on sale - with many beautiful graphic novels for as little as 3 bucks! I cannot BELIEVE that legendary Alan Moore and José Villarrubia's AMAZING The Mirror of Love, a graphic documentary on the history of same-sex love (and Alan is married to a woman isn't he? how sweet of him), which was $24.95, is now only $3!! I just ordered it - I'm sure it will be gone FAST.
Also, my pal Aaron Renier's book, Spiral Bound, which was $14.95, is on sale for $12.00. His book is great for adults or kids - BUY IT!
Yeast Hoist #12: Stop Thinking Start Sleeping Stop Sleeping Start Living
By Ron Regé Jr.
6.75" x 8 ", 48 pages
Black and white, full color cover
Ron Regé Jr. slowly but surely made a name for himself publishing his own mini-comics - like the first 8 issues of Yeast Hoist, which were photocopied. Issue #12, now all big-time published, collects various drawings and instant comics (unplanned, drawn/written on the spot) from sketchbooks and a few illustrations that were previously published in The New York Times. Regé's work has punk immediacy and energy, yet his simple line drawings are thoughtfully composed - one might even call them formal. His drawings, particularly the ones of nature and street scenes, are quite sweet. One drawing of a girl raging over a spilled ice cream cone is captioned "Sweetness and Bite," an accurate description of the entire book. His work is like a boy who will give you a dirty look and smirk, but will kiss you on the cheek when no one is looking.
Yeast Hoist #12 is available at Buenaventura Press
The Fart Party
by Julia Wertz
Published by Atomic Books
7" X 10"
178 pages, black and white, softcover
Julia Wertz has gained a healthy cult-following on her comic blog, fartparty.org in a very short time - and she's only been drawing and writing comics for less than 3 years! Atomic Books has recently released Julia's first collection of comics (gathered from the blog and the self-published photocopied comic of the same name), which I read straight through in one sitting. Most mainstream and "underground" comic-strips at the moment are just not funny... at all. They're either totally stupid or overly self-conscious (desperate, actually) in an attempt to be idiosyncratic, but Fart Party is hilarious. As is the case with most auto-biographical comics there's a healthy dose of self-depreciation, but in Fart Party we are spared the cliche nerd-boy self-loathing polluting most comics. Julia doesn't take herself too seriously. In Fart Party you get to see the kind of girl you actually know, a sometimes boozy cute girl who reads, wastes time, grumbles, burps and gets irritated with you. Like David Sedaris she is able to convey the absurdity of mundane experience in a way people can relate to; you totally side with her and so you crack-up. Her economical, simple line drawings are highly effective at storytelling and very cute... I'm totally jealous she's got it all so right in such a little time.
The Fart Party is available for $12.95 at Atomic Books
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