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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