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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