Sunday, December 4, 2016

ICYMI -- Small Press Comics Criticism and Whatnot for 11/28/16 to 12/4/16

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

COMICS CRITICISM

* Philippe LeBlanc on LIBBY'S DAD by Elenor Davis only scratches the surface of this amazingly compact and profound work of art.

* RJ Casey unpacks PERFECT HAIR by Tommi Parrish, "a book that may not make you happy to be alive, but sure will make you glad you're a comic reader."

* Andy Oliver reviews Alex Potts' UNDERPANTS, a collection of his short stories that "acts as a telling showcase for this most under-rated of comics practitioners."

* Kevin Bramer on Simon Moreton's WHAT HAPPENED and "the fog of older memories".

* Rob Clough highlights some more releases in the MINI-KUS! line from Mikkel Sommer, Theo Ellsworth, and Lai Tat Tat Wing. 

* Scott Cederlund reviews ROLLING BLACKOUTS by Sarah Glidden, which is also reviewed by JOHN SEVEN over on The Beat. This is one of those books that lives up to the hype and serves as a "must-read" for anyone interested in the possibilities of comics journalism. 

* Rebecca Fulleylove on Belfast-based illustrator Stephen Maurice Graham's MICHAEL, "which portrays the adventures of a 'man with no concept of how to live as an adult'".

* Women Write About Comics introduces a new Comics Academe contributor, TIFFANY BABB, who writes about "how she tackles the common academic dilemma of how to study comics when your institutional program does not have a comics studies program.

* Over on the COMICS WORKBOOK BLOG, Sally Ingraham has a great post on comics by Ulli Lust, Mai-Li Bernard, Laila Milevski, and the CW Roller Derby League, a Standing Rock and Resist! check-in, plus new stuff from Carol Tyler and Vanesa R. Del Rey.

* Magdalene Visaggio's WHY THE NEW SINCERITY HAS FOREVER CHANGED COMICS has the subtitle: The Anti-Ironic Sunshine Rebellion is Shifting the Face of Sequential Art and there you go.

* Finally, STOP EVERYTHING you are doing RIGHT NOW and read this conversation between Nick Hanover and Kim O'Connor titled COMICS SHOULD BE DECENT: A DISCOURSE ABOUT DISCOURSE. This is the kind of conversation more and more people NEED to be engaged in when they talk about comics. Sure, it's brutal and pretty fucking depressing, but, in the end, I really appreciated the fact that Hanover tried to pull out the positive in the end and, as someone who hangs out with young people all day as a High School Teacher, I absolutely agree with him.

WHATNOT

* Robin McConnell interviews ANYA DAVIDSON about her new books, Band For Life and Lovers In The Garden.

* Alex Dueben interviews AIMEE DE JONGH about her debut full-length book Return of the Honey Buzzard.

* Zack Soto and Mike Dawson talk to TOM KACZYNSKI from Uncivilized Books for Study Group's Podcast, Process Party, in which they talk about Tom's early work, his move into publishing, and ODOD books.

* Speaking of ODOD books, there's still time to get in on their KICKSTARTER, which is something you should really do if you are at all interested in seeing some great comics geared towards younger readers be available.

* The Poop Office ... ummm ... Office has a BIG ANNOUNCEMENT

* Ben Sales talks about his experience at the first JEWISH COMIC CON, a comics convention hosted in a small synagogue in Brooklyn.

* Kate Moon's comic for The Nib, WHY IS THE GREAT BARRIER REEF DYING, is a heartbreaking and revelatory call to action.

* Alenka Figa writes about the CHICAGO PUBLISHER'S RESOURCE CENTER, which acts as "a space for self-publishers to build community, offer educational opportunities, and access resources that lend themselves to self-publishing." 

* Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's NOW IS THE TIME TO TALK ABOUT WHAT WE ARE ACTUALLY TALKING ABOUT.

* Jacob Siegel's THE ALT-RIGHT'S JEWISH GODFATHER

* Maureen Herman and Katie Schwartz break it all down for us in their IF TRUMP HAS A PERSONALITY DISORDER IT MAY BE THE "WHAT" IN THE COLLECTIVE "WTF?".

* Imran Siddiquee's HOW TO MAKE WHITE MOVIES

* Patti Mulligan's 5 WAYS TO BE A SILENT TRUMP PROTESTOR

* Yair Rosenberg lets us know that WE BUILT A BOT THAT TROLLS TWITTER'S WORST ANTI-SEMITIC TROLLS

* Om Malik's SILICON VALLEY HAS AN EMPATHY VACUUM.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Review: EVERY LIFE I'VE EVER LIVED by Robin William Scott

Sometimes a work of art can come into your life at the exact time that you need it. So it was with the new book by Robin William Scott, Every Life I've Ever Lived.

I've been in a funk of late for various reasons ranging from Nazis to work concerns. My day-to-day had been a grind. Stumbling through it was becoming increasingly difficult.

Then Scott's book showed up in my mailbox (I had pre-ordered it weeks before and had pretty much forgotten about it) and, through reading it, I was healed in some small way, just enough to see the light through the darkness. 

As I wrote in my Comics Bulletin REVIEW:
We all, at some point, question who we are and why we do the things we do. It is our nature. Not one of us, though, if we are really honest about it, has really found an answer to these questions that will fully suffice and reassure. A temporary stay from such thoughts is the best we can hope for, and that comes only either through capitulation or compromise. To continue to ask these questions unmoors us and leads us only towards depression and crisis.

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow / Creeps in this petty pace from day to day / To the last syllable of recorded time…

Yet, like Macbeth, Scott is somehow able to not succumb to the despair in the end; he’s somehow able to throw a “warlike shield” before his body in his own way. He answers his questions neither by making sacrifices nor giving up; rather, he turns to his talent, he turns to his art, he creates meaning through the sheer process of meticulously documenting the moments, discerning the defining beats of the day and capturing them on a piece of white paper with the marks left from a black ballpoint pen.

You get the gist. 

If you are in a similar situation, I'd be honored if you gave the rest of the review a once over, then buy a copy of Scott's book, and see if you can heal too.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

ICYMI -- Small Press Comics Criticism and Whatnot for 11/21/16 to 11/27/16

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

COMICS CRITICISM

* Rob Clough reviews Daryl Seitchik's new book from Koyama Press, EXITS, in which "what it means to be seen in relation to one's identity, especially as a woman, is at the heart of this book."

* Clough also writes short reviews of a few releases in the MINI-KUS! line: #31: It's Tuesday by Amanda Vahamaki, #32: R.A.T. by Lala Albert, and #33: BFF by Marie Jacotey.

* Andy Oliver takes a look at Throwaway Press' latest anthology, DIRTY ROTTEN COMICS #8.

WHATNOT

* Ben Passmore's LETTER FROM A STONE MOUNTAIN JAIL.

* Rozi Hathaway pens A SELF-PUBLISHER'S GUIDE TO BUILDING YOUR SMALL PRESS COMICS PROFILE

* RESIST! 

* Youth in Decline has neatly packaged a bundle of FRONTIER 2 - 14 in a bundle for you to buy for all the people you love this holiday season.

* Keith Silva writes smart about Christopher Harris' new novel, WAR ON SOUND

* From the MIT Technology Review comes this piece titled, AI MACHINE ATTEMPTS TO UNDERSTAND COMIC BOOKS ...  AND FAILS proving that machines are smart and comics are dumb.

* Alana Newhouse's HITLER'S BABIES: ANTI-SEMITISM, AMERICA, AND THE JEWS




Sunday, November 20, 2016

ICYMI -- Small Press Comics Criticism and Whatnot for 11/14/16 to 11/20/16

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

COMICS CRITICISM

* Philippe LeBlanc writes a very personal review of Richie Pope's "Fatherson" contained in Youth In Decline's FRONTIER #13.

* Sacha Mardou's ON BEING A WOMAN IN THE MANLY WORLD OF DANIEL CLOWES is the sort of long-form criticism that we need more of.

* Kim Jooha's post on EUROPEAN ABSTRACT FORMALIST COMICS is an incredible repository of this sort of work and a primer as to what's going on.

* Rob McMonigal talks about Tillie Walden's webcomic, ON A SUNBEAM, and features some of its amazing panels.

* John Seven reviews Jessica Campbell's HOT OR NOT.

* Nick Hanover on the new hardcover release of Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn's ALEX + ADA.

* Not small press, but some amazing comics criticism: Ray Sonne's APOLLO: THE FEMININE SUPERMAN is absolutely first rate writing about comics.

WHATNOT

* Tom K. and Jordan from Uncivilized Books are launching a new kid's comics imprint, ODOD BOOKS. Give their Kickstarter a gander and throw some cash their way.

* Robert Tutton interviews Swedish Cartoonist Kim W. Andersson about his book, ALENA, and the horror genre.

* Robin McConnell interviews NOAH VAN SCIVER and SETH resulting in a fascinating conversation between the three of them.

* Glen Weldon's THE TERM "GRAPHIC NOVEL" HAS HAD A GOOD RUN. WE DON'T NEED IT ANYMORE.

* Adam Kirsch reviews Michael Chabon's new novel, MOONGLOW.

* J.A. Micheline's CRITICAL JAM #7: A RIGHT TO BE HOSTILE IN 2016.

* Cornel West's GOODBYE, AMERICAN NEOLIBERALISM. A NEW ERA IS HERE.

* Nikole Hannah-Jones' THE END OF THE POSTRACIAL MYTH

* Ijeoma Oluo's QUESTIONING SAFETY PIN SOLIDARITY REVEALED WHY I CAN'T TRUST WHITE PEOPLE

*Nick Hanover's THIS IS OUR FAULT: WHITE PEOPLE NEED TO STOP ASKING FOR EMPATHY AND FIX OURSELVES

* A Group of Editors over on Tablet have a post-election round-table discussion they title: IT'S "GIULIANI TIME" FOR AMERICA.

* And finally, this is strangely cathartic:


Saturday, November 19, 2016

Small Books For Sad Times



Reviewing new books from 
Becca Tobin and Simon Moreton 
while trying to claw my way out of this depression.


Monday, November 14, 2016

Giving Up by Giving In: Still Reviewing CASANOVA: ACEDIA


I continue to write about Matt Fraction and Fábio Moon's CASANOVA: ACEDIA for Comics Bulletin.

It's short, so I'll just put the whole thing up here:


CASANOVA IV: ACEDIA #7 (Image Comics)
(W) Matt Fraction, (A/C) Fábio Moon
star5
(Editor’s Note: The writer of this review wanted to give this “all the stars”, but our scale only goes up to 5)
It’s sometimes best to assume that you don’t know that you know what you don’t know that you know and then grab the bottle and head for the ocean. But sometimes when you do know that you didn’t know that you knew it already, it makes for shaky times and strange bedfellows.
Here’s what I know I don’t know about Casanova: Acedia #7:
  1. What the fuck is going on.
  2. Why that is spectacular.
  3. When I can get more.
Here’s what I know I do know about Casanova: Acedia #7:
  1. Everything is going on.
  2. It is fucking spectacular.
  3. I need more.
Given all this, it’s hard to even put the rubber to the road or light the head of the man screaming across the highway. Fraction and Moon just keep adding to a story that is fundamentally being told through subtraction, while maintaining a recursive narrative that keeps unfolding along a linear plane.
How can the goddamn sunrise be different?” It can’t be if you remain the same person.
Strange forces continue to undermine and explode. Certain truths become that much more evident. Puzzle pieces once thought lost are now layered between slices of bread to make the most delicious sandwich you’ve ever eaten. I’m not even quoting Bowie anymore.
This thing has legs and the rest of us are running to catch up.
Because it’s about character — not just who but how.
Is there a fundamental self no matter who you think you are? Is there a “you” behind every mask you’ve put on (or has been put on by everyone else)? What makes a hero besides other people saying you’re one? Who gets to define the moral system? What’s up, chicken butt? We’ve got fundamental questions on the plate next to that pickle. Which one are you gunna eat first?
Don’t think too hard about this. You don’t have time. The next course is being served.
If you’re not reading Casanova: Acedia then don’t start without going back to the very start and then move forward in the circular motion that this sort of story demands. Trust that Fraction and Moon understand what they are doing and have your best interest at heart. Or not. I don’t know what you know, but I sure as hell know I love Casanova: Acedia #7 and everything is going on and it’s spectacular and I want more.




Sunday, November 13, 2016

ICYMI -- Small Press Comics Criticism and Whatnot for 11/7/16 to 11/13/16

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


COMICS CRITICISM



* John Seven reviews Tom Gauld's MOON COP, which he says is "about believing in something so much that you are willing to go through the motions of fulfilling a role that has no purpose in order to offer some concrete structure that proves it actually exists, even as other forces work against that hopeful fantasy."

* Andy Oliver on WHAT IS "HOME"? by Anja Uhren, a book that "invites us to consider how we characterise a concept thatt on one level embodies the most comfortable familiarity and yet on another proves to be nebulous and almost intangible in its definition."

* Shea Hennum's MOEBIUS AND BEYOND: AN INTRODUCTION TO EUROPEAN COMICS over on Paste.

* Phillipe LeBlanc takes a long and circuitous route in his review of Charles Forsman's REVENGER. It's fascinating, in a way, to witness this piece unfold and veer into unexpected places filled with sudden, off-putting tonal shifts and personal confessions that tighten your stomach in that kind of right-before-a-car-wreck way (also, just an opinion, but The Beat sure could use a copy editor).

WHATNOT

* Tim Goodyear interviews SHAKY KANE. They chat about a wide range of topics, including Kane's new book, Cowboys and Insects.

* 10 CARTOONISTS REACT TO TRUMP WINNING THE ELECTION

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Four Shots at BLAMMO #9


For the past decade, cartoonist Noah Van Sciver has been publishing his one-man anthology series, BLAMMO. Kilgore Books has recently released the latest in the series and I was so impressed with it that I knew I had to gather some of my favorite writers to devote some time and energy into unpacking our reactions.
Given that, Justin Giampaoli, Keith Silva, and Alex Mansfield were tasked with choosing a single page or panel from Blammo #9 and use it as a platform for talking about the book as a whole. None of them read what the other was working on during this process. As testament to the thematic unity of Blammo #9, the writers all ended up talking about the same ideas of spirituality, artistic integrity, and the human desire to connect.

READ THE WHOLE REVIEW HERE

Justin Giampaoli's choice
Elkin's choice
Alex Mansfield's choice
Keith Silva's choice

Sunday, November 6, 2016

ICYMI -- Small Press Comics Criticism and Whatnot for 10/31/16 to 11/6/16

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


Before that, though, let me implore you to please
GO VOTE!

COMICS CRITICISM

* Greg Hunter on THE SHIRLEY JACKSON PROJECT, edited by Robert Kirby.

* John Seven reviews Guy Colwell's IN FOX'S FOREST, "... a timely fable of ill-effects of coercion and detainment, of being true to yourself, of what is normal..."

* Ben Cowles' short review of TETRIS: THE GAMES PEOPLE PLAY by Box Brown

* "A coloring book is a game played between the original artist and the person picking up drawing tools to fill in lines." Annie Mok reviews Anders Nilsen's new coloring book, A WALK IN EDEN 

WHATNOT

* Keenan Keller interviews BENJAMIN MARRA about his newest book, American Blood, and so much more.

* Daniel Harmon interviews JULIA GFRORER about her new book from Fantagraphics, Laid Waste.

* "This world is absolutely, unconscionably terrifying." Dan Nadel interviews ANYA DAVIDSON about her life, work, music, and her book, Band For Life.

* Ryan Claytor interviews TOM HART on the MSU Comic Art and Graphic Novel Podcast Episode #3 (as well as discusses all sorts of things going on at the Michigan State University Comics Studies program)

* Andy Oliver and the rest of the Small Pressganged over on Broken Frontier celebrate FIVE YEARS of publishing some of the best small press reviews by celebrating some of the creators who have been covered there since 2011.

* Michel Fiffe is offering a subscription to the next 6 issues of COPRA which includes issues 29 - 31, plus the final 3 installments of Copra Versus.

* Lars Martinson talks about the realities of self-publishing his latest book, TONOHARU: PART THREE, in terms of costs and distribution. Spoiler: Nobody's getting rich.

* Always a great read, Brian Hibbs' TILTING AT WINDMILLS series looks at The Long and Diminishing Tail of Graphic Novel Series.

* Looking for great comics criticism? Sometimes you have to support it! To that end, ROB CLOUGH has launched a Patreon. Please consider throwing him a couple of bucks a month. 

READ THIS: J.A. Micheline's BLACK HEROISM AND "THE MAN" IN LUKE CAGE

* As goes San Francisco, so often goes the rest of the country. With that in mind, please read Tim Redmond's piece WHY TECH MONEY WANTS TO RULE SF