Sunday, October 16, 2016

ICYMI -- Small Press Comics Criticism and Whatnot for 10/10/16 to 10/16/16

Highlighting some great small press comics criticism being published, as well as other random things that have caught my eye over the past week.


* "The act of processing grief, and the person you become afterwards, is a fertile ground for creative work." Alex Hoffman reviews SAFE DISTANCE by James K. Hindle and One Percent Press. 

* Tucker Stone continues to update his SPX 2016: THE HITS offering mini-reviews of books he picked up at the show. He's now added books by Roman Muradov and Charles Forsman and Melissa Mendes. 

* Phillippe LeBlanc takes a look at SHORTBOX #2, the international "comic box" currated by Zainab Akhtar with support from Clark Burscough, which "is quickly establishing itself as an incredible distribution force in alternative comics."

* Scott Cederlund reviews Tom Gauld's MOONCOP, which he summarizes perfectly by saying, "Ultimately, that's what the book is about, the quietness of life." 

* Megan Purdy on Kate Beaton's STEP ASIDE, POPS which "feels like an isolated chapter of a much longer tale, rather than a complete work in and of itself."

* Reading Gaiman, Nowlan, and Vozzo's "THE CASTLE" in The Kindly Ones had a profound effect on the young Alex Mansfield. Here, he revisits it to evaluate "what precisely worked so damn well."

* And if you read nothing else, please read Ray Sonne's powerful and personal and beautifully written piece on THE ENIGMA by Peter Milligan and Duncan Fegredo.


* Tim Hodler interviews TOM SPURGEON about his involvement in CXC, his new book on Fantagraphics (We Told You So), and his site, The Comics Reporter. Towards the end, Spurgeon says, "My main goal in my professional life, and I would suggest all of our main goals might include this because the 'comics for everyone' fight has concluded on some fronts and still advances on others, is to make things better for those involved; yes, the readers, but primarily the makers of this material. It sickens me with all of the money made overall that we're still in a situation where so many creators have to harm their lives in order to make art in a medium we love." 

* Joseph Marczynski interviews SARAH GLIDDEN about Rolling Blackouts and using comics for storytelling.

* Chase Magnett interviews BOX BROWN about his new book, Tetris

"In a time where mainstream comic publishers are making excuses for why marginalized voices on, and off, the page don't sell, you have this project smashing every single one of them.Ardo Omer on THE IMPORTANCE OF CHECK PLEASE!, YEAR TWO'S KICKSTARTER

* Lars Martinson's TONOHARU: PART THREE is available now!  

* Simon Moreton's MINOR LEAGUES #2 is available for pre-order!

* Janelle Asselin is stepping away from both ROSY PRESS and, seemingly, being a "Comics Personality and Commentator".

Sunday, October 9, 2016

ICYMI -- Small Press Comics Criticism and Whatnot for 10/3/16 to 10/9/16

Highlighting some great small press comics criticism being published, as well as other random things that have caught my eye over the past week.


* Brady Dale on Sarah Glidden's ROLLING BLACKOUTS and the concept of "comics journalism".

* Alenka Figa reviews Sam Bosma's FANTASY SPORTS #1, which "beautifully blends a fantasy quest with a sports story in an absurd way that feels fresh and fun."

* John Seven takes a look at S! #25 from kus!

* Tucker Stone keeps adding choice bits to his SPX 2016: THE HITS -- a bunch of mini "reviews" of things he picked up at the show.


* Xavier Guilbert interviews SIMON MORETON about his recent work and "Team Weird"

* Dan Hill talks to KATIE SKELLY and SARAH HORROCKS about process and whatnot.

* Over on The Nib, Tom Kaczynski and Clara Jetsmark have published GREAT AGAIN, which explores how Trump's candidacy is a perfect storm of political nostalgia and nationalism.


* Sarah Horrocks is reviewing a HORROR MOVIE A DAY for October.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

STILL Writing Reviews of Books from this Year's SPX

While Ray Sonne and Joe Schmidt write about some great books, I take the time to consider the artistry and implications of ESCAPE ROUTE by Daniel Zender

"Zender’s thick black and white art is reminiscent of old Brad Neely cartoons: static, yet awash in potential energy. Each panel verges on unfolding, yet its kineticism seems restrained; the act of placing them next to each other somehow makes the entire page vibrate. There’s an undeniable intent here.  You can’t help but trust that Zender is in command of what he is laying down in this book. He has provided you the details to an ever expanding complexity of storytelling, and he trusts you to let your brain do its magic. It’s hard not to love an artist who loves you back."

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Review: OUR MOTHER by Luke Howard

My pal, Ray Sonne, and I take a look at 
OUR MOTHER by Luke Howard (published by Retrofit/Big Planet) 
for Comics Bulletin.

"And this seems to ultimately be the thematic center of this book. A person can only contextualize their childhood experiences when they become an adult. The process of looking back creates a new understanding; we count on our future selves to make meaning of our present — a present that is in the past but informs who we are today."

Sunday, October 2, 2016

ICYMI -- Small Press Comics Criticism and Whatnot for 9/26/16 to 10/2/16

Highlighting some great small press comics criticism being published, as well as other random things that have caught my eye over the past week.


* Alex Hoffman on Gina Wynbrandt's SOMEONE PLEASE HAVE SEX WITH ME which "by being so absurd and also so forthright about the expression of her desire, confront the internalized misogyny of Western society that finds female desire or lust ugly/unattractive."

* Katie Skelly also reviews SOMEONE PLEASE HAVE SEX WITH ME and says, "While this book is deeply funny, the undercurrent of rage of someone who 'shouldn't even be around' as an undesirable is there, and I can't wait to see how it manifests next."

* Please do go read Claire Napier's beautiful review of Luke Healy's HOW TO SURVIVE IN THE NORTH.

* John Seven reviews Daryl Seitchik's EXITS which "takes a fairly obvious, well-worn bit of symbolism and manages to make the readers' familiarity with it into one of the work's strengths."

* Over on Mental Floss, Rich Barrett picks THE 14 MOST INTERESTING COMICS OF SEPTEMBER. Given the vagary of the implications of the term "interesting", I must agree that there are some "interesting" choices on this list.


* The new releases from kus! have landed. This slate of minis features four books by Michael DeForge, Ville Kallio, Daria Tessler, and Anna Sailamaa -- and they all look spectacular.

* RJ Casey interviews WARREN CRAGHEAD about his daily Donald Trump drawing project. 

* Andy Oliver interviews TILLIE WALDEN about her new webcomic, On A Sunbeam

* If you would rather listen than read, Sean Ford also interviews TILLIE WALDEN for Inkstuds. The echo on Walden's voice here is kind of amazing.

* Alex Dueben interviews ALEXIS DEACON about his new book from Nobrow Press, Geis.

* Ray Sonne is still talking about how great SPX was/is.

* Rob Clough also has a great overview/analysis of this year's SPX.

* Over on Loser City, Morgan Davis calls the new documentary, DANNY SAYS, about music biz legend Danny Fields, "cleverly executed and uniquely styled".

* Kayleigh Hughes writes about the year she edited erotic romance novels in her piece for Catapult, MY LIFE IN THE ROMANCE NOVEL INDUSTRY.


Saturday, October 1, 2016

Writing Reviews of Small Press Expo Books

For the past two weeks over on Comics Bulletin, I've been slowly making my way through the armful of books I picked up at this year's Small Press Expo.

THE BLACK HOOD edited by Josh Bayer and Mike Freiheit

WHAT HAPPENED by Simon Moreton and published by Kilgore Books

I FEEL WEIRD #2 by Haleigh Buck

MY DEAD MOTHER by Clara Jetsmark and published by Uncivilized Books

Sunday, September 25, 2016

ICYMI -- Small Press Comics Criticism and Whatnot for 9/19/16 to 9/25/16

Highlighting some great small press comics criticism being published, as well as other random things that have caught my eye over the past week.


* Shea Hennum reviews Luke Howard's new release from Retrofit, OUR MOTHER, which "features the incompleteness and pervasive unknowability that makes a rendering of mental illness sensible without being insulting." 

* Megan Purdy writes about SOMEONE PLEASE HAVE SEX WITH ME by Gina Wynbrandt, "a working through and a deliberate exposure of her own vulnerabilities"

* Rob Clough on HOUSES OF THE HOLY by Caitlin Skaalrud, "an emotional narrative wrapped in symbols, fragments, and genuinely harrowing sequences."

* Greg Hunter reviews Tom Gauld's MOONCOP whose "rewards increase with a person's level of engagement." 

* John Seven on Leela Corman's WE ALL WISH FOR DEADLY FORCE


* This sneak peek at ON A SUNBEAM, a new self-published, sci-fi style webcomic from the incredible Tillie Walden

* Tom Spurgeon interviews JESSICA CAMPBELL 

* Tobias Carroll interviews BEN KATCHOR

* Peggy Roalf has this very short interview with BENJAMIN MARRA

* Brian Hibbs weighs in on the whole DIRECT MARKET CONVERSATION 



Friday, September 23, 2016

Writing Thoughts on SPX

So the Comics Bulletin Team sent a crack group of critics (and me) to this year's Small Press Expo in Bethesda, MD.

Ray Sonne, Alison Baker, Christian Hoffer, J.A. Micheline, Joe Schmidt, and I all contributed to a little write up about our experience. Therein I make the assertion that 

I ended up with a lot of new books

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Cleaning Off My Plate Only To Refill It Ten Times More

Funny how things work out.

On the day before SPX started, 
my final review column on the books I gathered at 
SF Zine Fest ran on Comics Bulletin.

It featured short reviews of 

Low Light by Tristan Wright
A History of Increasing Humiliation by Geoff Vasile
Our Best Shot: Disclosures of Unlawful Compassion in the United States
When We Were Kids by Andy Warner
Rebel Rebel: An Illustrated Tribute to David Bowie by Patrick Sean Gibson

Now that I cleared my plate of my SF Zine Fest books, I've got a dinner tray full of SPX books to write about.

It never ends.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

ICYMI -- Small Press Comics Criticism and Whatnot for 9/5/16 to 9/11/16

Highlighting some great small press comics criticism being published, as well as other random things that have caught my eye over the past week.


* "It's hardly the most perceptive of observations to make but one of the most powerful aspects of autobiographical comics is their ability to immerse us in a pool of shared experience; to speak to us with a profound and resonant intimacy about those recognisable rites of passage that we must all live through and to remind us that we are not alone in dealing with them." -- so begins Andy Oliver's review of Sarah Lippett's STAN AND NAN, "a graphic novel that speaks to us about the bonds of family and the importance of the lives that shape our own.

* Andy Oliver also reviews VERIPATHY by Andy Poyiadgi, "a compact comic replete with far more incisive observations on the human condition than its short page could ever suggest."

* Rob Clough reviews THE NINCOMPOOP #1 by Christoph Mueller, in which while "most of these sorts of stories tend to focus strictly on the id, being transgressive and shocking and the conflation of that kind of expression with good storytelling, Mueller avoids those masturbatory and self-indulgent tropes by acknowledging them and then taking a sharp right turn away from them."  

* Jason Sacks reviews Lars Martinson's TONOHARU, whose third volume has finally come out through Top Shelf.

* Tom Spurgeon reviews COMETBUS #57, a series of interviews with New York-based cartoonists and their "struggle to find meaning and purpose and housing and time to spare."

* And finally, if you haven't yet read Claire Napier's piece, GLITTERBOMB AND HELTER SKELTER: STUDYING IMAGE FROM WITHOUT AND WITHIN, do that now. You'll thank me. I promise.


* Annie Mok interviews TILLIE WALDEN about the re-release of her book The End of Summer and her relationship with her readers.

* The title of Christian Hoffer's piece on the Direct Market, WHO'S TO BLAME WHEN A GOOD COMIC GETS CANCELLED?, is far more incendiary than his measured and thoughtful writing. 

* Sacha Mardou's great essay on the comics of JULIE DOUCET and menstruation.

* "What compels female writers to include rape even when it doesn't apply to their stories?" So asks Ray Sonne in her piece, THE INESCAPABILITY OF RAPE NARRATIVES