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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Max Clotfelter

Image stolen from Spit and a half – http://www.spitandahalf.com/product/the-warlok-story-by-max-clotfelter/

After many years of reading and enjoying his mini-comics, I finally sat down with Max Clotfelter to talk about his wide ranging of works. Max’s main series of odd shaped minis is Snake Meat Comics. Max has an amazing style of Southern post underground dystopia. The best place to buy Max’s work is here through John Porcellino’s great distro site.

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Elijah Brubaker

Elijah Brubaker joined me to talk about his eisner nominated graphic novel, The Story of Jezebel. A very funny take on the book of Elijah in the bible. He’s a really great cartoonist and when i saw this book was coming out, i was super excited, as i really loved his Wilhelm Reich series for Sparkplug.

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Eddie Campbell 2018

Eddie Campbell is one of my favorite guests to talk comics with. For the occasion of his new book, The Goat Getters, we got caught up the comings and going of early 20th century sports cartooning. It’s an amazingly researched story of early comics told with Eddie’s great story telling chops. He’s passionate about comics and that comes through brightly with this book.

Eddie also has another new book, this one is a collaboration with his wife, writer Audrey Niffenegger. Bizarre Romance is a great collection of short stories. We also discuss Eddie’s upcoming coloured edition of From Hell.

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Chris Reynolds

Chris Reynolds joined me to talk about his book, The New World, from New York Review Books. It’s an amazing collection of work that he had done from about 1985 – 1992. Edited and designed by Seth, Reynolds work holds a really unique place that fits well on the shelf sitting next to Beto’s more introspective works. I really enjoyed this collection, like pretty much every other comic that NYRB puts out.

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