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
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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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