Friday, November 21, 2014

Review -- UR by Eric Haven

UR

(Eric Haven)
Sometimes you encounter works that wonk you hard, as if head smacked by a thick blackjack. You enter a dream space and therein what you have endured through your days flows free unfettered by rules of narrative. Storytelling undulates as ideas build off of ideas and all of your influences dance naked together, at last, as they should. Here comprehension is teased as all the ingredients and flavors make sense, but ultimately the sandwich cannot bear fruit and, though satiated, you remain hungry.
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Such is the stuff of Eric Haven’s UR from AdHouse Books. This collection of 6 previously anthologized short comics reads like a quilt of tales told by thick-tongued, rapid-speaking eye-bulging, modern shamans after their meds have worn thin. It is beautiful to behold, but ultimately it unnerves and I cannot avouch for the warmth it provides.
Is this humor? Is this satire? Is this surrealism? Is this a further foothold to my own madness mountain, the one from which I am slowly trying to descend without causing the avalanche bound to destroy the hamlet situated so peacefully in the valley below, the place I call home, the hearth which I have been away from for far too long?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Review -- FUGUE by Matt Sheean

Fugue

(Matt Sheean)
It’s not often that I start a review of a comic with a dictionary definition, after all I’m no High School Freshman writing a tortured essay about Atticus Finch’s eroticism in To Kill A Mockingbird, but in order to write about Fugue,Matt Sheean’s 21 page black and white comic, it seems apt. So here it goes…
fugue cover
According to those pig-faced drunken bastards at Merriam-Webster, the word “fugue” means: “a musical composition in which one or two themes are repeated or imitated by successively entering voices and contrapuntally developed in a continuous interweaving of the voice parts.”  It has a second definition as well as: “a disturbed state of consciousness in which the one affected seems to perform acts in full awareness but upon recovery cannot recollect the acts performed.”
These definitions are important. They provide both access to understanding and a structural jumping off point from which to consider what Sheean is attempting with this book.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Convenient Truths: Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present


For the latest Convenient Truths column on Comics Bulletin, Jason Sacks and I take a look at Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present and explore our reactions to to the film, performance art itself, and what it means to be "present".

Check it out, here.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Review -- D.O.A. The Death of Carl “Alfalfa” Switzer by Ted Intorcio

D.O.A. The Death of Carl “Alfalfa” Switzer

(Ted Intorcio)
Publisher: Tinto Press
Biography is a tricky game, especially when the facts surrounding a person’s life are, shall we say, murky. Layer onto that, especially in the matter of celebrity biography, the prior-knowledge and expectations of the audience. What you potentially might end up with is a thick and viscous broken narrative full of appeasements and speculation. Luckily, D.O.A. The Death of Carl “Alfalfa” Switzer, Ted Intorcio’s latest release from his Tinto Press, navigates what is murky and those presumptions with a storyteller’s ease and an artist’s skills.
That’s right, this a comic about the death of Alfalfa.
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My Dallas, Texas pre-cable/internet latchkey kid childhood was full of after-school television and Hostess Cupcakes.  As choice was limited, most of my 4 channel options were re-runs of things like The Rifleman with Chuck Conners, The Three Stooges, and the perennial favorite, Hal Roach’s Our Gang, better known as the Little Rascals.
Our Gang was kinda subversive shit, if I recall correctly. In it a group of kids created chaos, undermined authority, embraced and perverted (simultaneously) ideas of misogyny and racism, and played it hard for laughs. While “Spanky” was the leader of the group, and “Froggy” was spectacularly awesome, the Little Rascal people often think of was “Alfalfa” with his cowlick, freckles, ill-fitting suit, and squeaky singing voice.
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As Intorcio writes in his introduction to this book, “(Alfalfa) embodied an ideal from a simpler time that we, as  culture, may have lost sight of. It was that what really mattered was not looks or money, physical strength or even above-average intelligence but guts, determination and a stalwart belief in one’s self. Despite all of our imperfections and the ever-present fear of a beating from the Butches of the world, we went after what we wanted and would mange to achieve some success in life, however meager.” Alfalfa was a hero. As awkward as he was, he always won our hearts.
Apparently, though, Carl Switzer, the young actor who played Alfalfa, was kind of an asshole. He was the kind of asshole who would supposedly drown a goat. He was the kind of asshole who pissed on the studio lights to get out of work. He was the kind of asshole who was gunned down in 1959, the events surrounding this event apparently being a bit nebulous.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Review -- š! #18 from kuš! Komiksi

š! #18

(Anete Melece / Inga Gaile, Anna Vaivare / Semyon Khanin, Davis Ozols / Ingmara Balode, Ingrida Pičukane / Sergej Timofejev, Klavs Loris / Anna Foma, Lote Vilma Vitina / Karlis Verdinš, Martinš Zutis / Arvis Viguls, Ruta Briede / Janis Rokpelnis from Latvia, and Alexander Rothman (USA), Andrej Štular (Slovenia), Dunja Janković (Croatia), Evie Cahir (Australia), Julie Doucet (Canada), König Lü.Q. (Switzerland), L.L. de Mars (France), Mari Ahokoivu (Finland), Nicolas Zouliamis (Belgium), Patrick Kyle (Canada), Sam Alden (USA), Theo Ellsworth (USA), Tiina Lehikoinen (Finland) and Tommi Musturi (Finland))

Art is what art does and its expression is myriad and unexpected. Sometimes, though, we delineate between forms and some creators define themselves exclusively by these boxes. Are they dancers and only dancers? Sculptors are not novelists, right? A film maker would never put a brush on a canvas. Talent is a cherished gift, it’s best not to spread it too thin.
Pffffft…..
k #18 1
And of course what is art without its audience. How often do our expectations calcify the potential of creators? The walls we put around our demarcations often become detention camps for artists.
What happens, though, when courageous creators take a chance on something new, some interaction and intersection between established mediums?
Well, sometimes something beautiful occurs.
š! #18 is one of those things, one of those beautiful, beautiful things.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Review -- DEBBIE'S INFERNO by Anne Emond

Debbie’s Inferno

(Anne Emond)

The journey/quest trope as an exploration of the self-induced garbage we suffuse our heads with to keep us from getting much accomplished is nothing new, nor is comparing our own mishigas to Dante's Circles of Hell, but somehow in Debbie's Inferno, Anne Emond's new book from Retrofit/Big Planet, what is old reads fresh. There's a child-like lure to this inner monologue that is a result of both Emond's art and wit. She is able to turn what could easily be a thick slog through the miasma of anxiety into something light, more meaningful, and perhaps, closer to the truth about the damage that we do to ourselves with our brains.

Ok, show of hands, when was the last time you holed up in bed, binge watching Netflix, covered in the the detritus of frozen pizzas and/or Baked Lays? It seemed like a good idea at the time, right, a “little me time”, a “respite from the day-to-day”? Then, as the minutes turn to hours and the sun sets and your lethargy increases and everything needing to be done remains undone still, you start to wonder what has become of your life. Depression, at times, can be self-perpetuating – we drown in the goo of our own loathing when we “wallow too long” in it.