Lisa Maas

Victoria based cartoonist, Lisa Maas, joined me to talk about her debut graphic novel, Forward. It’s a really effective look at recovering from loss and how to move on and make connections. it’s a very personal work that holds a lot of heart.

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Reading Stack August 24 2018

Here’s another stack of comics I have read recently. Hope folks enjoy these. Most of have also been posted instagram. If you want to send comics for me to check out, my mailing address is

#2147 – 720 Sixth St
New Westminster, BC
V3L 3C5
Canada

It took me a while to jump into this. It’s a big book with a bunch of words, sometimes I don’t like to read too many words. I finally spent a relaxing afternoon reading Voices in the Dark by Ulli Lust. I really loved it. The other book of Ulli’s that i had read from fantagraphics was a memoir work, this one is based on a novel by Marcel Beyer. It’s a heart breaking work about life in Germny near the end of the war. The story is hard, but full of life and deeply complex characters. They find a way of exploring motivation, stories and perception. New York Review Books continues to put out extremely solid graphic novels. It’s interesting that 10 years ago, the book market flooded itself with graphic novels, putting out a lot of subpar hurried work looking to cash-in on a new business model to them. New York Review Books popped up a couple of years ago and has been providing space to important voices in comics, that puts quality well above easy commercial work.

I’ve been doing a giant reread of bprd. Reading those hellboy omnibus collections made me nostalgic for the related work. This volume collects some of Guy Davis’s last comic work, which seems so weird, as he had been such a force for years, but obviously movies pay much better allowing for a better quality of life. When you look at his monster designs in the sketchbook sections at the back of these volumes, you can really see where his interest lies. His comic work near the end of the run, just isn’t as strong. Less lines, more short cuts. Still great work though.

All this is juxtaposed with some early Tyler Crook work, who has developed in leaps and bounds from his time on bprd. The work he cranked out on harrow county is really phenomenal. The bprd collection includes some recent private commissions of bprd character, which is lovely and shows you his development within the book.

The thing I love about this series is how everything is just getting worse and worse and worse. Nothing really ends well for anyone.

My memory is hazy, but i seem to recall that folks were complaining about Duncan Fegredo filling in for Mike Mignola on the art duties for a couple of Hellboy storylines. Hellboy omnibus 3 collects all these storylines. I am a big fan of Duncan’s work, going back to my days of reading Vertigo comics in the 90s. He’s always had a great detail, but also a figurative looseness that gives his characters a lot of life. The writing on this book continues to be solid with Mignola doing some major fleshing out of Hellboys story. I wonder with being able to step away from the art duties on this, allowed to Mignola to tighten up the story. In terms of writing, it’s probably my fav Hellboy work. This volume sets the stage for a bunch of stuff in the Mignola-verse, giving it a weight I didn’t notice before.

This Abe Sapien collection, the Drowning, is a hardcover collection of over 300 pages of a variety of different Ape Sapien back stories. This feels like one more unneeded in the series of Hellboy/BPRD side stories. Including a variety of flashback stories, this book seeks to fill in the puzzles. The earlier work in the collection drawn by Jason Shawn Alexander is pretty good. There’s a strong imbalance in the book, with earlier work that came out before the ongoing series feeling like it has purpose, while the latter part of the book not really serving much purpose too anything other than telling way too much back story that fills in some gaps that we didnt really need to know about.

Education by John Hankiewicz was published earlier this year as a part of fantagraphics FU press, the line for less commercial more challenging or underground works. I have really enjoyed John’s work since first getting a copy of the sparkplug published Asthma sent to me by Dylan Williams in the early inkstuds days. The work has always been striking In an interesting formal way. Figures traversing space with amazing visual clarity.

This work feels very personal, quietly saying a lot between the lines. He creates these perfect corners of rooms that breakdown an internal dialogue that weaves into odd directions getting more removed from reality in conjunction with artwork. It’s really neat how he can do such perfectly drawn work that captures movement in such a unique way.

Good for fans of Ruppert and Mulot, Anders Nilsen and Gabrielle Bell.

I think this Simon Hanselmann mini is called entertainment. But the small writing on the cover it makes me feel old. I always pick up Simons stuff. I have been a fan for a while, doing an early interview with him some time ago. Simons work is dark, ugly, brutal and unforgiving. A glancing read of his work makes him seem like a heartless dick, and maybe he is, but it’s also very personal. Shitty life experiences processed through the page.

This is a more passive work. A handful of gags punctuated with some gut punches. Who knows if this will be reprinted, Simon seems to just pump these out, maybe to cover his weed bill? It’s kind of amazing in terms of indy comics, to be producing this much quality work. It shows an unparalleled work ethic. I’m excited for more Simon comics.

I am particularly looking forward to his next official book work. Simon’s writing has advanced a lot, and it sounds like he’s delving into some deep stuff. This mini touches on some of that.

I popped by luckys the other day and was looking through all the different Peow books that are out. So much great looking stuff. I am super broke right now, so just bought the one book. Dust Pam by Thu Tran. It’s amazingly printed with a beautiful array of colours. Probably the weirdest beautiful book. A collection of stories about bugs, garbage bags, brooms, vacuums and more.

Peow has quietly evolved from a boutique publisher of weird Swedish riso comics and zines, to a place for fresh new interesting voices. It’s well worth seeing what a store might have in stock by them and taking a shot on something new.

Dust Pam was kind of perfect for my mood. I’ve been kind of trapped inside all week because of the massive amount of smoke and dust in the air in Vancouver. Today is the first day I can comfortably sit outside for quite some time. The world of Dust Pam is surreal, bright and full of moments of wonder.

 

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Sloane Leong

Today I interviewed Sloane Leong. Sloane is no stranger to the Inkstuds, helping out with many excellent guest interviews in the past. Sloane’s latest work is Prism Stalker which comes out in the first collection from Image comics next month. Sloane is a really interested and thoughtful creator, making work that challenges and subverts genre tropes.

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Paul Kirchner

I had the pleasure of talking with Paul Kirchner about his work. It’s a really great conversation that covers a lot of breadth. His most recent release is collection of a range of his comics work called Awaiting the Collapse. French publisher, Tanibis, released it both in French and English. You can also find editions collecting his great the bus comic strip that was featured in the powerful early days of Heavy Metal Magazine. Probably the oddest entry in series of breakthrough work during that time in Heavy Metal, the bus has a great surreal quietness to it. Fantastic work. Paul’s work sits in a unique place in comics, bridging underground and overground traditions with an undercurrent of the greats like Wally Wood. You can buy Paul’s work directly from him on ebay.

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Nate Powell

Nate Powell joined me to talk about his new book, Come Again. His first personal/solo work after the extremely powerful March series with John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, Come Again is a really fantastic book that continues his tradition of thoughtful important work.

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Fiona Smyth

Fiona Smyth has been making great important comics for the past 30 plus years and most of them can be found in the recent collection from Koyama Press, Somnambulance. It’s an amazing way to get a deep understanding of one of Canada’s important pioneering small press cartoonists. Her work is radical, engaging and vibrant. I am really happy to have had the time to talk to Fiona about her comics appreciative to have this book in my hands.

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Mariko Tamaki

Comics writer, Mariko Tamaki joined me to discuss her latest comic works. She has been really active, writing on a number of new works including Supergirl: Being Super, Lumberjanes Book series, She-Hulk and much more. She also was a part of the Luisa book from Humanoids, supporting extensively on the translation work.

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Reading Stack July 2 2018

It’s been feeling really good to incorporate regular reading into my life again. Quite often I just hold off on reading something because maybe I will need to interview that person one day. So no more rules, no more waiting, just read and enjoy.

If you would like to send stuff for me to read, you can do so at the address below. I probably won’t read pdfs, as I am an old man stuck in his ways.

#2147 – 720 Sixth St
New Westminster, BC
V3L 3C5
Canada

I’ve read the occasional Matt Furie Boys Club thing. I have always enjoyed his art, especially his detailed painted work. Boys Club is a lot of fun. it reminded me of my own time in my early 20’s living with a bunch of friends. Those times were weird and crazy. I have many stories that include the time we had a friend that worked the graveyard shift at a Burger King 2 blocks from my house. I was very poor at the time and being able to go and hangout in closed up shop and munch down on food was very exciting to this 19 year old. Making my own burgers while slipping around on the incredibly greasy kitchen floor, grabbing packets of cheese curds and just inhaling them. Cheese was a luxory at that point. Cheese in Canada is more expensive than anywhere else in the world. One time I took home a poutine and put it in the fridge and heated it up the next day in the microwave, in its styrofoam container. I have never gotten so ill, so quickly from eating something. Boys Club perfectly encapsulated that time of bad choices, fun nights and no regrets. Thank you Matt Furie.

I had read the first installment of Zach Worton‘s Curse of Charley Butters a couple of years ago. I really enjoyed it, but wasn’t really sure where it was going. Zach has a great art style that serves his comics really nicely. His previous book, Klondike for Drawn and Quarterly was great. Super fresh style made for comics. His latest book, collects the first part of Charley Butters with the full rest of the story. It’s a solid volume from Conundrum Press (conundrum also published the inkstuds book many years ago, so publisher, Andy Brown is a saint in my eyes). The book quickly shifts into high gear with the other parts. What at first seemed like would be a fake history of a mysterious artist, quickly changes into a look at personal failure, addictions, obsessions and all regrets. While Boys Club was fun and silly and lives in this great bubble, Charley Butters is the result of the bad choices we make, or the good choices we don’t make. being shitty to friends, resenting people and life. Zach really works these characters and doesn’t make things easy, but not in a super depressing why bother way, but in an experiential way, challenging who we need to be and the motives behind our decisions or actions.

Volume 2 of the complete Hellboy Omnibus volumes was fantastic. It’s like comic popcorn. i really like the lack of any kind of moralistic superiority to Hellboy. He’s just a devil dude who was brought to earth to bring about the end of the world. What do you do when all sorts of horrible people are telling you, your destiny, go crazy and wander the earth and get into all sorts of messy fights. I know this all connects with the greater BPRD story-lines and whatnot, but I like the way Mignola is able to limit the hellboy stories and you can enjoy them on their own, without having to fall into this bigger thing, which I will be revisiting soon. Also, there is some A+ Richard Corben stuff in it, so that’s always worth the price of  admission. I feel like this book is where Mignola is really hitting his stride in terms of the greater Hellboy story arch.

Sophie Yanow’s What is a Glacier? Sophie is a strong thoughtful researched cartoonists, so I went into this expecting a book about how we are all fucked because of impending environmental disasters. Instead it’s a really touching read on the uneasiness of life and where we are i our lives.

Going through my own period of personal change and re-evaluating, I really appreciate Sophie’s lack of answers, but instead a focus on not having an answer. There’s a teetering existential crisis that feels really raw and universal. Go read Sophie’s comics. She’s great.

Poor little Joanie by Caleb Orecchio. Published by Comics Work Book last year I think. Caleb mailed this and another mini to me and they got lost in my mess. I am trying hard to sort through things and catch up on reading. This is a collection of 4 panel gag strips that have some story connecting them. I don’t completely understand the whole time, but I really appreciate Caleb’s drawing and capturing of expressive figures in motion. The work has a lot of life to it. I would be really interested in seeing a more specific contained work. I have never been super into daily style Strips, but I see the skill in what he is doing.

I really enjoyed this book, Solanin by Inio Asano. I don’t read much manga, a fault in my part. I was always learing of manga when I was young, because I made grand wide assumptions about the work. So it’s always been too much of a gap in mind reading. I saw my old pal Sarah horrocks writing about Asano’s work, and other folks talking about his works, so when I saw this used at my local book, I figured I would give it shot.

This book is full of so much heart, but not in a saccharine way. Very honest personal and comforting. A good book for a summer afternoon outside.

I’ve really been enjoying read and trying to log off. All these distractions pull my brain down and take me away from the work.

Yesterday I was talking to a friend about the difference between talking about comics as something other than the work itself and actually just reading comics and sharing thoughts about the work itself.

Reading and writing these little reviews has been really cathartic in reconnecting and centering.

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Tommi Parrish

Tommi Parrish joined me to talk about their latest book from Fantagraphics, The Lie and How We Told It. It’s a really fantastic book about people, relationships and finding our place. I really loved this book, same with their previous work, Perfect Hair from 2D Cloud.

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Reading Stack June 20 2018

I`m currently on a sick leave from work. For folks that have been following, the last couple of years have been pretty chaotically personally. I won`t go into details, but the main thing for Inkstuds, is that I have kind of lost touch with keeping up with comics, sustaining with occasional interviews. I have posted a handful of interviews while off over these last couple of months and hope to have more up. In the meanwhile, I have been making a conscious effort to read more. there was a point where several months would go by with reading a comic. I would still buy new work, and get review copies in the mail, that all sat neglected. So for my own personal accountability, here is a hopefully ongoing tally of what i have been reading with some brief thoughts.

If you want to send me stuff to look at, you can mail to me, I prefer hard copies for reading, as I am an old man.

#2147 – 720 Sixth St
New Westminster, BC
V3L 3C5
Canada

First recent read is Dilraj Mann’s Dalston Monsterzz. The first time I came across his work, was when a friend emailed me to complain about this guy that was biting Jonnie Negron too much. My thought was that, oh yeah, but this guy is actually working at it, while Negron has never really excited me. It always felt like it was extremely surface level, while Mann was drawing his environment. I got the chance to meet Mann at Thought Bubble in Leeds one year. He gave me a stack of minis that were great. I think he has amazing potential. I think as an illustrator, he has amazing style and potential. His work reflects the fashion that I saw during my visit to England. Bold amazing patterns  on striking figures.

In regards to Dalston, it was honestly lackluster. I was describing NoBrow books to a friend recently as looking great, but not really owning the production quality. Some stuff is amazing, while other works feel like they stopped 2 stations before work could really feel it’s potential. This book falls into that category. I am curious to see where Mann goes with his work, or if he even continues to do comics. From what I can tell, and understanding book publishing, this work was likely done well before the Island cover, and I hope to see where he has taken feedback with his work and processed it. I can’t state enough about Dilraj’s ability to capture his surrounding, which is important. I have seen few creators reflecting the look of a ride on the London Tube so effectively.

I somehow got a copy of Batman Noir – Dark Knight Strikes Again. Growing up, Frank Miller was the ultimate creator for me. I loved his work, had read all of it and was a highpoint for comics for me. I had a well read copy of that leather bound edition of the complete Frank Miller Batman reprinting Year One, Dark Knight and an old Santa Clause meets batman story that didn`t really fit at all. As my tastes shifted into more alternative works, I still had a soft spot for Miller’s work. I picked up the Dark Knight sequel as it came out in those installments. It was such a crazy rude awakening. As an old school DC kid, I loved the weirdness that Frank dropped in, how often did we see the Question as a major character back then (ask me about the Cowan/O’Neil run, it’s great). But the really good part of that book was Lynn Varley’s insane coloring. She turned it into a weird surreal neon psychedelic world of madness. It was great.

Frank’s inks on there own have not been great for quite some time. This book comes after his full Sin City work. I have a theory that you can actually see the point in Sin City to Hell and Back, where he lost it. Like a particular series of panels that he has never really recovered from. When you look at the work he did on Elektra Lives Again, versus what he does on this work, it’s striking and heart breaking. Dark Knight Strikes Again is great, because it embraces the madness. The Batman Noir version is completely stripped and looks like the worlds worst coloring book.

On the other end of nostalgia, I have been revisiting Mike Mignola`s Hellboy series. Starting with the new omnibus edition. It’s a big volume of the early stuff. It’s weird to think that some of these comics came out 25 years ago and still pretty enjoyable. I remember when they first came out and comics that were 25 years old at that point, did not have the same quality of staying power over time.

Thinking a lot about the progression of creator owned comics allowing for more genuine enjoyable work that ages nicely on its own, not trapped in a system that dates it like a b superman comic from the same era.

The first story arc, with scripting support from John Byrne, puts down the seeds from which the whole Mignola-verse comes from. It`s great to see little ideas that you know will come through into bigger storylines. It had been quite some time since I read these works, so I had forgotten enough to keep reading it exciting. These omnibus collections are awesome though. really cheap way of bring together a lot of material, but not stupid heavy like those fancy massive DC hardcover books that just don`t look enjoyable to read.

Continuing the Hellboy reread, is this huge collection of short stories. I think nearly half of it is drawn by Richard Corben. That is reason enough to get this book. Corben is one of the greatest genre cartoonists. His storytelling is solid, his art superb, and leaves me wanting more. How is he still so productive at nearly 80 years old blows my mind. There`s a bunch of other great artists in this collection.

When the original Inside Moebius collections came out in french, I hunted most of them down. I never did find a french edition of the first volume. I can`t really read much french other than a handful of phrases, but my love of Moebius`s is a little absurd. This volume reprints the first 2 french Inside Moebius collections. This is the 3 book in Dark Horse`s ongoing work to reprint the Moebius library, after the first 2 focused on his Edena work. In some ways, it`s odd to bring this work out so early. Inside Moebius was a long extended series of dreamlike sketchbook comics where Moebius encounters his previous works, reconciles to a life without his continued habitual marijuana usage and contemplates the identity of being cartoonist for life.

The first book is very much working out the kinks of what he is doing with the books. For someone who has not read much Moebius, it would not make a lot of sense. It`s a little rough, going in a bunch of different directions. He first started working on this not long after 9/11, which unfortunately makes some of the work dated, with Bin Laden playing the odd role with some broad statements not really fitting the concept of the book. One of the weird parts of the book is complaining about working on Blueberry and how the original writer`s son is heavy handed with the series rights, when complicated history of finding Moebius in English seems to be an even messier version of what he is complaining about.

 

The second book finds it footing. Reprinting volumes 3 and 4 of the French Inside Moebius, you can see Moebius trying to reconcile with his work and trying to find peace while also dealing with the expectations of continued productivity. His creations are trying to find their own way through Moebius`s imagination, getting lost and sidetracked on the way. While not intentionally so, with this work being the final major comics work that Moebius worked on in his life, it`s like giant 3 volume set trying to find out what Moebius`s own Rosebud is. What about his work keeps him going, is there an answer he is seeking in these books?

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