Summer Reading Stack July 20 2019

As usual, I am behind on posting about some of the books I have been reading. While the podcasts are not running very frequently, I am still reading and reviewing.

If you want me to check out a comic, feel free to send it to me at

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

I’ve been reading this Tardi book for the past couple of weeks. Bit by bit before bed. It was extremely good. I am a huge fan his work and am really happy that fantagraphics continues to publish English editions of his work. I, Rene Tardi, Prisoner of War in Stalag IIB is a memoir work about his fathers time as a pow during world war 2. Tardi creates a great conversational tone with father passing in his experiences to his son, passing through the back drop of the camp. 

Tardi’s feelings about war are no secret. There is no glorification. He wants the reader to understand just how bad it was. The dangers of following leaders with absolute trust and not being critical. Tardi cares about his fellow man. He wants us to study the past as a warning for the future. I think book 2 just came out, so i will be looking out for that. 

This work is timely and important.

Becca Tobin’s comics remind me of being young enjoying the summer. Enjoying yourself but still processing those doubts and anxiety but finding solid friends to get through the night with. Watching the stars fall on a late August night while drinking beer in a park. This is Understanding from retrofit.

During the summer last year, i really enjoyed sitting in my yard reading hellboy comics. Since then, i have been going through the bprd books with some regularity but found myself slowing down, maybe its because nothing ends well for anyone and the nihilism slows me down. But who am i kidding. I love nihilism. 

Today i spent the morning cleaning my bbq’s in the sun. Its been nice. I got the smoker going with some italian sausages and returned to burning life is hell and things never seem to get better.

Volume 4 of the hell on earth books goes into more character development, which i really appreciate. These characters exist together but hold so much baggage to themselves. 

I had already read some of these, but that gave me a nostalgic feeling of when i was young, rereading and devouring work.

Bprd hell on earth volume 5. The final in the big collections of this storyline. A lot happens. Lots of death. Lots of destruction. Not a lot of feel good resolution. What do you do when everything is ending or falling apart. 

The characters so trapped in a cycle of violence that they can’t see the forest through the trees. But if they could, they would see how it is all burning down. Highly enjoyed. Sat in the yard probably getting too much sun in the process. 

What happens next?

I like that this book is just called batman. No subtitle. I kind wish all batman books lived by themselves as just different creators doing their take on batman. Away from the years of backstory and crossover. Just sitting by itself. 

The stuff in this collection of bat comics by Francis Manapul that works well, is when he explores thw side characters. Gives them some airtime and life. I would appreciate a harvey bullock comic. This book has a really failed take on the anarky character that is so off base and dumb that its kind of funny just how much he doesnt understand the original character.

The final volume of Inside Moebius english language edition from dark horse. I’ve wanted to read this for years. I think of this as Moebius’s last book. I know he has a smattering of other work released before the end of his life, but this work plays such a weird perfect memoir reflecting on his life as cartoonist. 

Moebius is by far one of the most influential cartoonists. His dna is all over modern comics. Its rare when you see cartoonist working in the commercial market, having the space to be so meandering and introspective. 

All of his anxiety and doubts are on the page, giving a sense of catharsis, stepping away from his genre works with publishing expectations and just allowing the subconscious to do the work. 

A lot of Moebius stuff is beautiful, but not necessarily very well written. This work is definitely an exception. I got a lot from it.

I enjoyed this little side quest hellboy comic. Taking place in the time prior to his arrival on earth, Rasputin fills in a handful of story gaps but not to a point where everything os explained. I’m sure the hellboy universe will be mined and expanded upon in perpetuity, which is great if it stays decent and consistent.

This John Byrne collection is kind of fascinating to me for a number of different reasons. First, its like a bside compilation. A bunch of random comics by a guy who is known for drawing characters not in this book. Also, most of the characters on the cover are not even in the book. 

Lastly, it really captures the changes in technology and how that effects story telling and readability. Earlier work in the book is smooth and defined. There’s a kind of arch where his comics hit a sweet spot and quickly decline with the dependency on incompatible colouring techniques with Byrne taking a lot of short cuts. 

There was a time that Byrne was ever present. He’s since done a good job of alienating a fair amount of readers but you can see at one point in time, he could make a pretty good comic.

I picked up this great RL Crabb mini series Fauna Rebellion published by fantagraphics in 1990. It was great. Everything you want. Marxist moles, militant bears and a vengeful squirrel. I love this period of fantagraphics. They are making enough money off of other comics that they give space for creators to try out the weirdest ideas. 
I bought this in a store in vancouver at fraser and broadway. It’s run by a guy named ken and his wife. I think its basically them cleaning out their storage lockers. Ken was one of the original owners of the comic shop, Vancouver’s much missed institution. He even has the old yellow comic shop back issue bins. I will be back to see more of his weird old stuff. Kind of everything i want from a comic store

One of my purchases at vancaf. The Perineum Technique is a graphic novel by french collaborative duo Ruppert and Mulot. I first came across their work when the short lived Rebus books published Barrel of Monkeys. I was honestly blown away. There was also an art show in new york at the same time that i got to see and also blew me away. Ruppert and Mulot are working in a way that there is a mind melding were they create complex, revealing, beautiful and personal work. 

This book was no exception. The backdrop of modern courting, artistic egos, personal failure and the surreal come together beautifully. I really hope to see more work of theirs from fantagraphics in English.

The first interview i ever did was with Seth. Nearly 14 years ago. He was gracious to this naive interviewer. The first book from Clyde Fans was out and it seemed like folks weren’t really ready for it. Some people complained that it meandered and nothing happened. Turns out it was a slow burn. 

There’s a lot of thought in Clyde Fans. Seth is exploring what we perceive of ourselves and how we understand others. The decisions in our lives are sometimes our own and sometimes driven by circumstance and obligation. There is a notion of family being the familiar but not what should define us. 

I thought a lot about this book after i read it. I wonder how seth felt about his changing approach to comics while creating this. I love it because you get the full view of artistic development from someone who had already created a classic with A Good Life. 

Seth’s altered approach to the work, building in strength through the book really comes to shine in the last chapter. It feels like not only is the book done, but the expectation of the book is done, which is a whole thing on its own.

A new book by Manuel Fior. Or least I thought it was new when i got it and read. I was really struck by how the art style had brutal feeling of immediacy. I found out later that Red Ultra Marine was actually an early work and explained the difference when compared to his much more polished current work. Published by Fantagraphics, i picked this up at VanCAF. 

I really enjoyed how this book was just rough and kind if brutal overall. What are the tough decisions we make in our lives that are completely regrettable and how do we can reconcile and move on. Time, myth and reality are completely interchangeable. I liked it.

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Aisha Franz

German cartoonist, Aisha Franz joined me to talk about her latest comics work, Shit is Real, out from Drawn and Quarterly. She is also one of the people behind the fantastic Clubhouse anthology, beautifully printed by Colorama. The latest issue, lucky number 13 is out now and looks amazing.

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Eric Kostiuk Williams

A very delayed inkstuds. Apologies to everyone! here is an interview with the Great Eric Kostiuk Williams. His latest work is Our Wretched Town Hall from Retrofit. I love love love Eric’s work. It’s political, funny and beautifully drawn. He is able to work out some really complicated topics while also keeping things strangely stunning and outrageous. Eric also has Condo Heart Break Disco from Koyama Press.

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Sometimes life is hard and you try to find things that get you through. Energy drinks seem to be that thing for me. I love comics. Dearly. But they are hard. It’s hard to keep up and understand what’s going on.

A nice can of monster can be the only thing that gets me up and out the door in the morning. I’ve been thinking really hard about who i am and my place in the world, and i think it’s important to try and do for energy drinks, what i have been doing for Inkstuds for the past 14 years. Expect deep talk on life and the challenges it brings. I am joined by my friend Simon, who has similarly found joy in energy drinks. Taking him to the next level during his immigration to America. Using these powerful brews to better understand the American zeitgeist.

Please enjoy, the first episode of DRINKSTUDS

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Reading Stack! March 19 2019

I wish there were more hours in the day. For those that don’t know, I am heavily involved in the planning for VanCAF, which is a bunch of work. I am really excited about this years show. It’s a going to be great.

If you want to send me stuff to read, my address is

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

Many thanks to Annie Koyama for slipping me a copy ot Emily Carroll’s latest, When I Arrived At The Castle. Ugh. So good. Emily shines so brightly in this. There’s just 2 characters confronting eachother and one of them confronting their own issues. It’s a really visceral book. The intensity flies off the page.

This is the concluding collection of the Abe Sapien solo series. I wasn’t really feeling the other books in the series, but this was great. The story seems to find its footing and really hit some good beats. It fills the gap with hellboy already ending/ended, getting introspective while exploring the extended mythos. 

I like when the work tries to look at human perseverance while the whole world is blowing up and burning down. 

There seems to be an undercurrent of the more you know, the less things make sense. There is no conclusion. Abe just keeps moving through the world with time passing at it’s own unidentified speed. I like the notion of always being lost.

A story of men, by french cartoonist Zep. It’s a big book. Like french bd album size, but the art is very casual. Well drawn men having conversations. The idea i get from this book, is that men are bad at sharing feelings.

The toxic effects of holding things and not telling someone close to you what you are going through. A group of friends come together after not seeing each other for many years. What’s been left unsaid. How do we reconcile the past. Can we go back? 
I liked this book.

So i had heard good things about this mister miracle run drawn by mitch gerads, written by former cia operative Tom King. The sensitive take on modern comics writing that seems to have massive tolls that just happen. 

There’s a weird juxtaposion in the work that ruminates on traumatic childhood experiences but warfare is a family affair. Certain crimes are horrible and others are justified and matter of fact.

I found it really uneasy to reconcile the notion of trauma delivered in heartfelt snapshots that feel like it completely missed the point. It’s really too bad. There’s some ideas that would have worked with a more thoughtful approach.

A lot of it felt like fan fiction that was written with a bunch of nods and winks that get in the way of the story. I always get pulled out of a comic when i see how the writer is playing to the audience. The work can’t exist on its own. Meta comics that depend on comics culture. And its not just superhero work that does this. And can work well when pushing the story forward.

The art is interesting. The 9 panel grid made the flow work, but even that was extremely referential to Jack Kirby. Its very much a comic of now, depending extensively on modern image manipulation techniques and styles, but runs the risk of look extremely dates in 5 years.

I don’t know if I’d read this work since it came out. Fresh from the turn of the century, Planetary seems to try to walk the line or being conscious that it exists within the superhero market and struggles to shake it off. As the book goes on, it gets better. Cassaday moves into a groove with the art, taking more strides in shifting styles and finding the right voice. 

There’s a lot of touching on different pulp/comics narratives and characters, but it tends to work best when its focused on its own concepts and not get too meta. Sometimes the winks and nods to material being referred to, takes me out of the book. 

This is a newer edition, collecting the first half of the series.

The second half of a Planetary reread. The book got much better and shook off some really 90s aspects of the first volume. Cassaday’s art is tight and keeps it moving. The story expands and gives more context and history, stepping away from the winks and nods in first volume. I wish work at more room to breathe and explore. You can almost tell when its time to windup the book and get to the end. I remember there being a really massive delay in issues near the end of the series, so it’s likely, he success of the creators took them away from. But thats how it goes. I will probably jump into some contemporaneous works in the next couple of months.

Tillie Walden’s latest, On a Sunbeam. I fully jumped into this book. At over 500 pages, I was holding off on reading this for a while. It was really good. An epic length book about hurt, loss, friendship and perseverance. Tillie uses a sci-fi setting to tell a very human story.

It’s really great, as you can see her working through some really great storytelling tricks. Her art chops work perfectly in sync with the setting. Dark with beautiful flourishes, playing with the setting. 

I’m looking forward to whatever Tillie does next.

I bought a bunch of French comics on ebay recently for really cheap, so i am working my way through, enjoying what i can read. This book is from 2005, published ny L’employé du Moi. Lointain is a very dark wordless comic by Claude Desmedt. Things go very badly very quickly for the protagonist. An innocent boy that just things get escalatingly worse for. Good for fans of josh simmons.

Frank Cezar sent me his Forgotten Boy comic. Its magazine sized riso printed. He uses the riso quite nicely giving each colour a specific use over the drab brown of the general story. I’m interested to see how his longer works fleshes out. There some stuff that lost me in the story, but i think will work out with time.

More great work from the New York Review Comics line. Piero by Edmund Baudoin. An artist fully under represented in the English language market. I think the only other English work by him that is available is a bio of Dali. I was a lot more excited by this book. A memoir piece about childhood, identities and expectations. 

Growing up with an artisticly skilled artist, Baudoin explores what it means to create for yourself or for expectations of who you should be. The work breathes and passes through you. Living vicariously through idyllic pastures of drawing and experiencing.

On a side note, somewhere I have a french copy of the sequel to the book. I seem to remember it being much smaller, so this is a nice reprint, improving on the original.

N for Nadelman is the latest comic by John Hankiewicz. Limited to 50 copies and comes with an accompanying zine of sketches and edited dialogue. The story is true to form Hankiewicz, an awkward conversation that may or may not relate to place and setting you see. I quite liked it. The drawings are of someone else’s scultpures and space. An artist whose work has life and ideas but hides in semiobscurity, getting lost in its own ideas. 

The accompanying zine is really fascinating because you see just how much he has distilled the writing to capture particular points with every word and phrase having importance.

My life has been unusually busy lately so i havent had time to post or record interviews. And my reading has been fluffy. In my deep dive into Scott Snyder, i checked out this book, batman gates of gotham. Seems that dc pulled a fast one on me and Snyder’s contributions are likely suggestions over drinks with writer Kyle Higgins. Good for you Kyle! Mainstream comics are such a weird beast that anyone stepping above and making a readable book is doing something. 

I enjoyed it for the most part. The art by Trevor McCarthy is really weird and wooden giving some good angles that kind of do something really neat when he really puts in the work. I want to see him go off the hook with his drawing and just do some crazy shit. This book feels like they held back and stayed to form. 

It ends with a short story by the team that predates the longer story. It feels like it was tossed. Doesnt connect to other work and nowhere near as accomplished. 

This book has dick grayson Batman, as a bat boy. I prefer him. He’s just a guy trying to do his best without being a batmartyr…

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Liam Sharp

I was able to meet up in person with Liam Sharp while he is Vancouver for a local comics show. I have always been really into his work and fascinated by his approach. He’s currently the artist on Green Lantern with writer Grant Morrison. His most recent work includes Brave and the Bold Wonder Woman/Batman which he wrote, and the Wonder Woman work with writer Greg Rucka.

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Karl Stevens

Karl Stevens joined me to talk about his painting and comics work. His latest book, The Winner from Retrofit/Big Planet, is a great move forward in his work and shows some amazing growth and introspection. I am really excited by his work and where he is taking it.

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Joe Kessler

Breakdown Press Co-Founder, Designer and Cartoonist, Joe Kessler joined me to talk about his new collection, Windowpane and shine a light on a bit of the history of Breakdown Press. Breakdown is one of the most interesting publishers in the UK right now, putting out some top notch forward thinking comics. I am a huge fan of all they do and Joe’s comics are pretty great too.

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Reading Stack January 17 2019

Life’s been really busy for me lately, so I haven’t been able to do as many interviews as I would like. I still read comics though, and have been posting small reviews on Twitter and Instagram. Here’s a look at what I have been reading.

If you want to send me stuff to check out, you can find me at

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

It still seems weird to me that we have so many new reprints of Hugo Pratt comics. The euro comics line from idw continues to impress with releases that 10 years ago, were just a pipe dream. 

This book The Man From The Great North, collects all of Pratt’s Jesuit Joe comics. They are weird canucksploitation stories taking place in the early 20th century in some mythical canadian setting only imagined by a European creator. 

The book is mostly finished colour comics with some filler pages made from early drafts by Pratt and material created for a film. 

I liked it as an odd ephemeral collection capturing latterday Pratt. Seeing how he distills his work, relying more on colour than his distinct ink work. 

I think there will be more in this series of reprints, as the Corto Maltese books are almost done.

I’ve been reading a lot of batman comics over the holidays. This is books 4,5,6 of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s batman run.

I don’t know if I completely understand this book. The main story is a weird conflation of what if the riddler was really into the khmer rogue and took over the city of Gotham and treated it like his own Cambodia. And instead of calling it Year Zero, let’s call it Zero Year. Oof. I think some small changes would make it feel a little less too on the nose. Like did any of the editors look at this and go, maybe let’s use a different name? It’s really too bad, because I think some parts work really well. The Riddler is basically that guy who you always see posting comments trying to prove he’s smarter than everyone else. It’s like the incel batman villian. And I think that’s a great take.

The last volume is a collection of different stories that seem to take place in that early batman prebatman storyline. I think. I’m not sure. I think I am going to keep treating these as the ridiculous comics they are and not get too caught up in the details. Good popcorn comics with some misguided concept choices

It’s issue 2 of Marc Bell’s epic series Worn Tuff Elbow. The last issue came out in the early 2000s, a staple of great alt comics. I love Marc’s comics and his amazingly weird world view. There’s nothing like a Marc Bell comic, filled with idiosyncratic non sequiturs, dense with ideas and interactions.

His work has a really nice poetry to it. It’s good work to get lost in. I really enjoy Marc’s work and think he is one of the greats, for creating some really forward looking comics for the past 20 plus years. I think you can this new book directly from Marc.

So I finally finished going through the Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo batman run. I have a bunch of thoughts. Some stuff worked really well, some didn’t.

The main story of this third set is called endgame, the title makes frequent shout outs through out the series after. It’s basically a good old fashioned batman and joker beat eachother up until they can’t. I think this is where they shine. The darker the story, the better. I think if they treated batman like a straight up horror comic, it would work so well. Just be dark and enjoy it. Let it exist on its own.

A good half of the collections are filler stories until getting to the conclusion. Most of it really confuses me. Maybe I am getting old and too used to a different batman. The final major story has a young hunky Jim Gordon take on being batman as some official corporate program. Again, the good parts are the straight horror.

Finally started reading this last night. The first volume of the last man by Bastion Vives and company. I read it before going to bed and then I couldn’t sleep. I don’t know if it’s from the action pack fun in the comic, or the box of donuts I ate earlier.

I liked this book and will likely go through the rest of the series over the holidays. Great drawing and keeps moving.

Read Blackwood, written by Evan Dorkin and art by team of Veronica and Andy Fish. I love that Evan Dorkin is writing comics for other folks to draw. I think his mind works a lot quicker than he has time to draw. The story is a straight up high school horror comic, probably channeling a bunch of different sources that Evan loves. He has a deep affection for comics in themselves, and I love seeing how he processes that.

The art team works really well, catching that attention to detail but not getting too caught up on letting the story speak for itself.

I finally got caught up with some Michael DeForge. I think Brat from Koyama is likely his longest straight story other than the forthcoming Leaving Richards valley. My eye sight has been pretty bad for the past couple of years, so I have kind of avoided a good chunk of comics that are hard for me to read. I got new glasses a couple of months ago and it makes a huge difference and it’s nice to be reading more and not getting headaches. 

This book has everything I could want from a deforge comic. Magic the gathering, a Patrick Kyle style sequence, troublesome teens and lots of introspection amd hubris!

This is a very lovely little book. Volume 1 of Gengoroh Tagame’s My Brother’s Husband. It’s an extremely sweet book that looks shows Tagame digging deep personally and using the space to process and a book that others can also benefit from.

I don’t read a lot of manga, so I forget the great way that manga allows you to breathe and go through thoughts with the characters. Tagame takes his time. He seems to want the reader to feel the personal introspection and internalize that. 

He’s a very clear cartoonist telling anx extremely easy to read comic. Will probably read volume 2 tonight.

As promised, I read book 2 of My Brother’s Husband by Gengoroh Tagame. It continued to be delightful. I think it moves forward quite a lot with this book. Working through some of the internal conflict introduced when the protagonist meets his twin brothers widow.

There’s no super easy resolution, instead he overcomes his own judgements when confronted with the judgements of others.

There is a neat idea of finding family and fulfillment when you let yourself be open. Sharing experiences and be together and letting things be organic. Family isn’t necessarily blood, but those that care for you and want to be with you. 

I like that you can see where he is having fun drawing what he finds sexy without making it sexual. Tagame is an extremely solid artist that can draw what he wants in the way he wants. 

Although it feels like there is a natural conclusion, I would be interested to see the story continue in a way like life does and relationships fluctuate and grow.

I quite liked this comic by Emi Gennis. It’s short, to the point and doesn’t hold back. Published by Kilgore books as a part of their most recent Kickstarter lot. It’s always worth checking into what they are putting out. Solid comics. Baseline Blvd is quiet meditative book that gets under your skin, challenges what is acceptable and manipulation. I need to read more of Emi’s comics.

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Steve Skroce

Vancouver cartoonist, Steve Skroce joined me to talk about his latest book, Maestros. This is Steve’s first book written for himself, having previously worked with a wide range of writers like Alan Moore on Youngblood, Brian K Vaughn on We Stand on Guard and The Wachowskis on Doc Frankenstein.

Steve is someone whose work I had been following since back when I worked in a comic store as a teenager, so it was nice to finally get an interview done.

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