Wednesday, April 18, 2018

SHORTBOX #8 is available for Pre-Order

SHORTBOX, a collection of comics curated and published by Zainab Akhtar, has announced that you can pre-order the newest releases until April 27th, with a scheduled shipping date in June. 

Akhtar has an eye for great comics, and her boxes have always had works that have challenged me as a reader, opened my eyes to creators I might never have otherwise come across, impressed me with their quality and diversity.

If you are a fan of independent comics, you should be investing in what ShortBox is offering every three months.


Check out what is included this time around:


'Your Mother's Fox' by Niv Sekar 36pp, colour.
A woman sets out to see America the way her mother did: on the back of a giant fox. And while a
 giant fox may be better than any car for a roadtrip, the fox is old, and America is its own land. A thoughtful and poignant treatise on place, identity, and belonging.


The River Bank by George Mager, colour, 40pp, french flap cover.
 George Mager brings his uniquely charming whimsy to this long-term passion project: an adaptation of Kenneth Grahame's classic, The Wind in the Willows. Follow Mole, Rat, Toad, and Badger in an exuberantly lively and fresh journey, that will have you ready for the joys of spring.


Homunculus by Joe Sparrow, 70pp, colour.
A machine at the end of the world... In the near future, a young scientist and her sentient creation struggle to understand, and be understood by, the world around them. A story about love and learning, death and time, told across the years.


Summer Break by Lottie Pencheon 90pp colour, perfect bound, spot gloss cover.
Lottie's been feeling ill, or 'off' at the least, the difficulty of articulating exactly what's wrong leaving her even more isolated within herself. A break away with her family in the crisp, green goodness of nature seems like it could shake off any cobwebs, but it becomes apparent that what she's facing is very real, and that there's no quick fix.


What Are You Thinking About by Anatola Howard, 32pp colour and black and white.
A collection of stream-of-consciousness vignettes and short stories from one of the most exciting up and coming cartoonists in North America.

Monday, April 16, 2018

It's What You Leave Out: David Fairbanks on The Poetry of Absence in CHANGE by Ales Kot, Morgan Jeske, and Sloane Leong

Flip open a comic to a random page. Perhaps the first thing you notice are the seas of color or blackness greeting you. Perhaps something incredibly dynamic is happening and your eye is drawn to the "motion" of a punch through visual cues. Perhaps a character is giving a lengthy speech that leaves the page dominated by word balloons. The visual nature of the medium leads to a focus on those visual elements, but the majority of comics function rely on an absence, an anti-visual element of the page: the gutter. 

As comics have mostly moved away from a more rigid formalism, they have begun to walk the path of free verse poetry by making incredible and innovative use of panel placement and the breaks between panels. Ask a poet why they broke their line in a certain way and they are just as likely to say "because it felt right" as they are to offer a straight answer regarding form and sound and image and surprise. While the medium of comics and the responses of creators to questions about page composition and gutter placement is similar, there is nowhere near as lively a conversation around the insertion of absences (or the absence of absences) into a page of comics as there are the breaking of lines in a poem.

It's a conversation I would like to start. 

Discussion of page layout and panel composition most often focuses on grids -- a critic's discovery of a comic plotted mostly on a grid or a creator's announcement that their comic was put on a grid with some purpose. David Hine and Shaky Kane used a 4-panel grid for a Burroughsian cut-up experiment in Bulletproof Coffin (inspired by 4-panel grids in older Jack Kirby comics), Frank Miller used 16-panel grids in Dark Knight Returns, and Tom King seems inexplicably intent on using 9-panel grids with multiple artists on multiple comics. And critics talk about them. A little. There is a certain point at which the discussion of the grid -- much like its continued use page after page -- gets repetitive and a little boring. So I won't be talking about grids, except perhaps for the ways in which they do something innovative. 

Change (Kot, Jeske, Leong, and Brisson) was certainly not the first comic to get creative with panel placement, gutters, and page layout, but it was the first time I took notice of what panel placement and arrangement can do for the communication of the story. It was the first time I felt it, and it might be easier to start with an example. 
This page has some of the clearest examples of Change taking advantage of readers' familiarity with comics and how they are read. Occurring in the prologue, this snippet lets Morgan Jeske and Sloane Leong accomplish more in one(ish) panel than many comics do in a single page, condensing heightened emotions and tensions into a single panel instead of a series of talking heads -- and in this panel, there are two trios of inset panels emphasizing the characters' eyes and mouths as the conversation gets heated. Jeske is saying "yes, this conversation is occurring now, but also so are these facial movements," and the contrasting colors brought by Leong allow these microscopic panels to command a reader's attention. Constructing a panel this way requires a certain level of faith in the reader -- after all, there are comics readers who simply follow the word balloons from top left to bottom right and then turn the page, like listening to a TV show as your eyes are elsewhere -- but the combination of the contrasting colors and the placement in line with the word balloons makes it more likely for a reader to pick up what Jeske and Leong are putting down. 

If I were to extrapolate the idea of the gutter as comics' line break further, that would leave a page as an equivalent to a stanza. What, then, is going on with those inset panels? They have clearly defined panel borders with space between them, but they are laid on top of other, relevant art. They are taking the advantages of breaking a panel -- creating discrete ideas/emotions and presenting them to the reader -- without the formless void that exists in the typical gutter. It's an example of having your cake and eating it too, and it is a technique that poets like Mica Woods and Chrissy Martin do incredibly well. 

In the third of Mica Woods' "Three Poems from Now/Here," she incorporates the forward slash (typically used for marking line breaks in poetry transcribed as prose) to break the line without really breaking it: 
suspicion on the train from one stop / to the next an American train / on a German train once / the woman across from me and B thought we were German / until we told her we weren’t / this was perhaps flattery / to no end except kindness in a version of a haunted house centipede / the great / murder mysteries and robberies should happen on trains not in mansions / nor banks / the path is inevitable / unless it hits a cow or car and these things are usually considered / replaceable parts / so all plots are resting / places everyone can catch their breath / in the arc as it appro/aches infinity, which is always (a) suspect for this reason / you’ll need / a good feast of an intermission to gut out the suspense within an unstoppable train / we know / where it’s going / five bodies will be on the floor and at least four / will not get up into the shuddering air of humanity again 
This creates the effect of a boundary without fully separating the text from the rest of its line. It encourages a reader to hold multiple ideas in their head at once, in much the same way that the inset panels in the panel of Change. One could make the argument that word balloons work similarly to this application of panels within panels, but there are unfortunately few examples of word balloons with distinctly non-textual elements in them. 

Chrissy Martin's poem "Flexible," on the other hand, encourages the holding of potentially conflicting ideas, leading a reader where she wants them to go while massaging that reader's lexicon in a way that might give them a bit of empathy toward women and a better understanding of the expectations placed upon them: 
We are girls scrawling words across collarbones, my body is instrumental no no not ornamental / how then so many hands decide to pluck pluck / decide to perform their favorite songs / high notes on the tightness of our thighs / lows in the resonance of empty bellies / girls that are playable / pliable / malleable / see flexible / see supple / see stars from hunger / i.e. thin / i.e. desirable / girls someplace between mace and home / carrying catchphrases, 
The conflict brought up by Jeske and Leong on the third page of Change is more visual than conceptual, for while the inset panels clearly work in concert with the dialogue and facial expressions in the main panel, it's the color contrast that makes the panel work as a whole. 

There are three other techniques on display in this image alone: panels overlapping each other and spilling out into the gutter, a panel that has been sliced into discrete chunks to effectively slow the transition to the next panel, and a consistently inconsistent panel size that dispels notions of uniformity throughout the entire work. 

Let’s bring that image back again to focus on something a little different: panels that either spill out into the gutter or overlap other panels. Panels overlapping panels creates the sort of simultaneity I’ve already discussed -- it’s what allows a reader to hold those transforming emotions in mind while also experiencing the static image on the page. When they overlap with each other, however, those smaller panels create something of an order of operations that suggests a reader should move down the stack to the next overlapped panel, refusing to allow a reader’s brain to fill in the gap. What is arguably more interesting, however, is when the overlapping panel spills into a gutter and does the comics equivalent of a long line (Scott McCloud might argue the comics equivalent of the long line is the infinite canvas. He is wrong). The work of Walt Whitman is perhaps best defined by the long line, represented on the page like so:
When I heard the learn’d astronomer, 
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me, 

When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, 

     and measure them, 

When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with 

     much applause in the lecture-room, 

How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick, 

Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself, 

In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time, 

Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.
 
Those indentations allow poets to both utilize the line break and demand a reader’s attention for longer than the page’s apparent limitations. Comics can certainly do this with panel size alone, elongating it to the edge of the page, but the problem then becomes the opposite of increased attention: readers often spend more time when they have more panels, and less time when there are fewer panels to read. The solution, then, is to slap a panel over or under your current panel to take advantage of the break in image without being forced to place a gutter between them. 

There is, of course, another way: 
Both in the original example and here, Change takes an image and slices it into panels of varying widths (and, if you’ll notice, slightly varying heights as well), requesting the reader to slow themselves as they move left to right, panel to panel. This might be one of the most common artistic techniques found in comics, and it calls to mind poets who utilize the short line and/or frequent line breaks to feed the reader in such small bites as to finish and not realize they’ve been eating a person from the toes up: 
Buffalo Bill ’s 
defunct 

          who used to 

          ride a watersmooth-silver 

                                                         stallion 

and break onetwothreefourfive pigeonsjustlikethat 

                                                                                          Jesus 

he was a handsome man 

                                              and what i want to know is 

how do you like your blue-eyed boy 

Mister Death
 
We could talk about the placement of words on the page, here -- you almost always can with e e cummings -- but for now simply look at what the reader is being fed and where it ends up. In comics, there is rarely so grand a reveal as to call it a volta, but the realm of digital comics and guided view could change that. Imagine seeing those slices of eye above, piece by piece, until your comics viewer zoomed out to show the full panel. Either way, slicing an image takes advantage of the pacing, elongating a reader’s experience with the panel while actually removing parts of the whole image. 

I’ve examined only half a page, but I think it’s clear something is going on that bridges the gap between two seemingly disparate media. While not unique to Change, this was a comic helmed primarily by relative newcomers to mainstream comics who likely held less rigid ideas of what a comic is and how it is made, who have interests outside the medium as well as within it. Here is one more example of Change doing something interesting with its panel progression and page layout: 
Though not necessarily a chaotic arrangement, Kot/Jeske/Leong offer up a different way to look at a fight, perhaps a more honest one than the finely choreographed conflicts Michel Fiffe discusses on his blog or that some comics legends are known for (see that grid there, too?). The arrangement you see above contains sixteen panels with a loose indication of how one might read them after the large one on the left. It’s glimpses and flashes, and the result is eventually revealed to the reader, But the process? Well, it’s a mess, and it should be. 

Though people will discuss time “slowing down” in a chaotic or fearful moment, this occurs from the activity of the amygdala and its laying down of extra memories to be recalled alongside those the brain might normally preserve. Change puts to page what one would experience in that fight instead of what an onlooker may see, mimicking through image and arrangement. There are ways for poets to create similar effects, but few seem as skilled at transitioning from order to disorder and back to order as Douglas Kearney
No two poets are the same, and yet the most common desire I’ve heard from friends and teachers, professional poets and amateurs, is one to be understood beyond the limits of language through the use of language alone. You could argue that Kearney’s poem uses something more than language as it turns into a lexical soup, but I don’t. It all bleeds together, and you can stare until you’re convinced it makes sense, but know that this is a lie your brain tells you so you can move on and finish the thing you were reading and get on with your damn life. 

To recreate an emotion or experience for a human being through their interaction with a piece of work…? I can think of no better way to describe “art,” and I believe all of the areas where Change overlaps with these poetic ideas are just that. There is a philosophical belief that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, but that is a mistranslation of Kurt Koffka that has stuck around for some time due to people’s inability to break down and comprehend overly complex ideas and the incorrect assumption that an absence lacks sufficient thingness to be summed up. Koffka’s original intention -- that the whole is other than the sum of its parts -- might more accurately account for this creative dark matter. 

In comics, in poetry, what we put in matters -- and sometimes a nothingness is put in. Put simply, what is left out can contribute as much if not more than what is included. These are the absences that allow a reader to fill in and become a part of the work, for it to transform them and them to transform it. They are perhaps the key to the persistence of these mostly niche mediums. 
---------------------------------------- 
David Fairbanks is an artist, poet, and critic who makes a living doing none of those things. David's work has appeared at Loser City, Comics Bulletin, FreezeRay, DayOne, and now Your Chicken Enemy. His handle is bairfanx basically everywhere, and you can learn more at his charming yet infrequently updated website: davidjfairbanks.com.

Friday, April 13, 2018

ICYMI -- Small Press Comics Criticism and Whatnot for 4/6/18 to 4/13/18

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

* Carta Monir reviews THE PERVERT by Michelle Perez and Remy Boydell, which "is that big, difficult, trans, queer-as-shit, pull-no-punches sad fucking comic that [she's] been waiting for."

* Alex Hoffman also reviews THE PERVERT, calling it "a complicated human story where identity isn't easy, but human connection makes it livable."

* Jazmine Joyner on Michael Sweater's THIS MUST BE THE PLACE: A PLEASE KEEP WARM COLLECTION, "a series of funny and sweet stories that are entertaining, approachable, and fun to read."

* John Seven looks at two books by WHIT TAYLOR, Ghost Stories and Fizzle #1, in which Taylor "uses her strong talent for intimacy in cartooning to present situations -- some personal, some fictional -- that engulf the reader in such a way that the emotional content isn't just being shared in the work, but experienced."

* Tom Murphy on CRUSHING by Sophie Burrows, wherein "one of the beauties of the comic is the recognizable London it depicts -- a city of standing behind the yellow line, intrusive pigeons and nipping to the kebab shop in your 'jammies. A maddening, exhausting and creaking city that, through it all, retains the capacity for magic."

* Scott Cederlund reviews FROM LONE MOUNTAIN by John Porcellino which "uncovers these small, reflective moments of life that many of us just take for granted and gloss over."

* Oliver Ristau on Roman Muradov's RESIDENT LOVER, "an extrapolation of human relationships in the wake of dating simulations situated under the influence of extremely contrarian scenarios..."

* Sam Ombiri reviews MISSY NO. 1  by Deryl Seitchik, which "feels like watching something with the sound turned all the way down."

WHATNOT

* Alex Dueben talks to HAZEL NEWLEVANT about Sugartown, working at Lion Forge, and more.

* Vice has printed some COMICS by Tara Booth. If you've never seen Booth's art before, this is a good place to start. I'm pretty sure you'll be happy you did.

* Kim O'Connor has some DISGRUNTLED COMICS LINKS about the controversy surrounding Brandon Graham, her birthday, revisiting Cathy comics, NYT comics critics, and COPRA.

* Douglas Messerli on the "complex and passionate poems" of JOSEPH CERAVOLO.

* Finally, those of you who know me know the myriad of reasons I have for not liking Crisis on Infinite Earths, but I will still recommend that you read Tegan O'Neil's CRISIS IN TIME over on TCJ, because I'm STILL trying to wrap my head around what point O'Neil was trying to make by stringing together so many words about so many disparate things under one title.  It's kind of a fun read, if you don't mind having a furrowed brow.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Spring 2018 Box from UNCIVILIZED BOOKS!

Minneapolis-based small press comics publisher
Uncivilized Books 
has recently announced it's offering its 

Included in this offer is:
The Clandestinauts
by Tim Sievert 

Tsu and the Outliers
by E Eero Johnson

Cartoon Dialectics Volume 3
by Tom Kaczynski and Clara Jetsmark

Draw Stronger: Self-Care For Cartoonists and Other Visual Artists
by Kriota Willberg

Uncivilized is one of the great small press comics publishers operating in 
North America today. 
You can trust them to publish some of the best comics being made.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Kickstart Your Part: GREENHOUSE by Debbie Fong


Greenhouse is a 24-page risographed comic by Brooklyn-based cartoonist Debbie Fong that looks amazing.
"In Greenhouse, a nameless girl struggling with her mental health develops a quiet obsession with botany. As her obsession grows, she's plagued by inexplicable dreams, and her reality begins to unravel in alarming ways..."
While Greenhouse has already met its funding goal, there is still time to back it and get yourself a copy.


Monday, April 9, 2018

West Coast Blues: Rob Clough Reviews FROM LONE MOUNTAIN by John Porcellino

John Porcellino’s latest collection of autobiographical King-Cat zines, From Lone Mountain (Drawn and Quarterly), finds the artist at the absolute peak of his drawing and storytelling capabilities, while at the same time secretly still battling his debilitating Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). The book collects issues #62-68 of King-Cat Comics and Stories, as well as a few unpublished stories and some out of print minis that he did for show. It’s only in recent years (in the notes to his last collection, Map Of My Heart, as well as in his more straightforward book The Hospital Suite) that he’s opened up about this time, although an attentive reader could start to see it bleed through his stories as the book goes on. The stories in Map Of My Heart were about Porcellino's sense of home and rootedness even in the face of divorce and loneliness. In contrast, From Lone Mountain is about how unmoored and isolated he felt when he moved to San Francisco with his then-wife Misun. 

In the book's endnotes, Porcellino said that his OCD eased for a while, being in a new environment, and that came through in the freshness of issues #62 and #63, as Porcellino tackled adaptations of Zen stories with relish and wrote a number of stories featuring Misun as a kind of comedic partner. He also drew a number of stories in the vein of comics-as-poetry, also often in the Zen tradition, as a way of expressing his focus on the Now. An example of this is “Trombone No. 1” (with a sub-header telling the reader to “please read slowly”), a silent story of Porcellino going about his day at work, eating lunch, and then picking up a box of paperclips with the title of the story on them. Each panel features Porcellino being entirely in each moment and the story asks the reader to try to do the same, up until and including the little moment of absurdity with the box of paper clips.
Porcellino has always done comics about being out in nature, and this book has plenty of examples, but the tone of these stories is different from those he used to write about being in his native stamping grounds in Illinois. There’s a greater sense of distance and awe of the unfamiliar (as opposed to the more grounding awe of the familiar) in some of these stories, like “Great Western Sky”, which doesn’t feature people at all, but rather views of the American Southwest. That’s a part of the country that has inspired artists and cartoonists in particular for a long time, with George Herriman being a prominent example. Herriman's classic Krazy Kat strip was well known for featuring red sands, mesas, and other spectacular views unique to the area. 

In addition to a time of transition in terms of location, the period featured in From Lone Mountain was one of tragedy for Porcellino as well, which only added to the sense of him feeling unsettled in San Francisco. Issue #64 is a beautiful tribute to his father, Chuck, who died before John and Misun could speed west to say good-bye. There are funny prose stories about his dad and more wistful anecdotes about where he was when he learned of his dad’s death, leaving home, and a desperate desire to go home. There’s also a mix of joy and grief to be found here, like in “April 7th—Western Illinois”, where his dad’s favorite song (absurdly, “Renegade” by Styx--although the line "I'm so far from my home" does resonate) came on the radio just as they crossed over into the state on their long journey. Other issues noted the deaths of close friends, acquaintances, and then even his beloved cat, Maisie Kukoc, who had been a staple in King-Cat stories since nearly the beginning. 
One of the paradoxes of the collection that Porcellino described is how painful it became to be creative, caught in the grip of OCD. He found himself drawing and redrawing pages dozens of times, throwing out material or refusing to publish it. At the same time, his art had never been more precisely beautiful than it was here, and his storytelling was absolutely masterful. Issues #65-66 are two near-perfect issues that address every aspect of the book’s overall themes. The “Places” issue, #65, was all about ruminating on various places he had been at a time when he felt out of place and desperate for the idea of home. The genius of Porcellino’s art over time became his ability to pare his line down to its absolute essence without using a cartoony style of art. It’s perhaps the most influential aspect of his art's formal qualities, as many artists (often operating in the comics-as-poetry sphere) have similarly tried their own version of this. In stories like “Iowa City” and “Scott County Memories”, what’s remarkable is not just how expressive they are while still being stripped down, but just how much detail Porcellino is able to fit into every panel without a single wasted or misplaced line. It makes looking at each panel a rich, rewarding experience in its own right, in addition to its function in the overall story. In "Scott County Memories", his ability to convey the topography of an area using perspective and a slightly bending line is eye-opening. The final panel is meant to convey Porcellino and a friend’s wonderment seeing a lake and cottages across the shore on a still night, and once again every squiggle and line is packed with emotional and observational significance. 

Issue #66 features “Football Weather” and “Freeman Kame” as exemplars of two entirely different approaches. There’s an almost familial warmth in the former story, which recalls Porcellino cleaning up his yard and playing football with the neighborhood kids as an adult. Not only is there a sense of total belonging (compare to “Punt No Tell” from Map Of My Heart, another story about playing football, only from Porcellino’s adolescent years), there is also a sense of Porcellino as a sort of big brother or even a father figure. It’s hilarious, showcasing an aspect of his work that’s not always mentioned with regard to him. Porcellino’s comic timing is sharp, and his personal interjections (like being horrified at the very thought of his team being named “the Packers”, as a lifelong Chicago Bears fan) add more flavor to the story, making it specific rather than generic. The latter story is a classic “Porcellino in nature” story as he travels to a particularly beautiful mound in wintertime. The use of abstraction here, with the trees becoming sticks and details falling away, perfectly balance what the reader needs to see in order to understand the story and what they need to feel in order to understand what Porcellino felt. 
The last issues in From Lone Mountain are the ones where his desperation with having to deal with his OCD starts to bleed through the stories. “Heart” emphasizes how he’s trying to cope with the feeling: “Just be with the heavy heart/Going through the motions/Waiting…” or “Regular World” having him say to Misun as they were going to sleep, “I just wasn’t cut out for the regular world”. “Cabin Flux” is an admonition to himself that as hePainted yourself into a corner/Paint yourself out”. There are also stories focused on moments of joy, like “Feels Like A Good Day” and Zen admonitions to be in the moment always, like “Anthill” and “Breathe…” which both end with the same message: “Nothing matters but this anthill/ lying here in bed with Maisie, listening to the birds”. Still, that sense of being far from home, from feeling out of place in the world, is ever-present, especially (and wistfully) in the final strip of the main part of the book, “Feeding The Birds of The Fruitful Yield”. On the one hand, it’s a vivid description of a joyful memory as he and his coworkers feed the birds with extra bread they had, another perfect moment captured and recorded. On the other hand, the final line, “I was home”, is devastating when contrasted with the other stories in the book. 
Porcellino’s comments are usually there to simply put stories in context with events of the time, as he prefers to let the reader dwell on potential meanings. He also puts the stories in context with regard to his mental health at the time, which is enormously helpful as a reader. Once again, the extras in the book are fascinating, as they range from material that his OCD would simply not let him publish to minis he did for shows like APE. “3 Poems About Fog” is particularly interesting, as it describes San Francisco in a more direct way than almost anything he ever did in King-Cat when he was living there. 

Porcellino’s comics certainly put the lie to the idea that mental illness inspires cartoonist’s creativity and output, because his OCD delayed the publication of his issues by months. While the final product is absolutely beautiful, it came at the terrible price of anxiety that led to redrawing images that were perfectly fine thanks to micro-imperfections that may well have been imaginary by the nth revision. The fact that Porcellino was able to be as productive and creative as he was during this period is a testament to his self-will and Zen practices working in concert, and his career-long belief that King-Cat is always going to be an outlet for him, no matter what.
--------------------------------------------------------------------

Rob Clough has written about comics for Cicada, the Comics Journal, Sequential, tcj.com,
sequart.com, Savant, Foxing Quarterly, Studygroup Magazine, as well as for his own blog, High-Low (highlowcomics.blogspot.com).

Friday, April 6, 2018

ICYMI -- Small Press Comics Criticism and Whatnot for 3/30/18 to 4/6/18

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 reviews LIGHTER THAN MY SHADOW by Katie Green, which "is genuinely moving and a remarkable achievement."

* Holly Raidl on M.J. Wallace's BI THE WAY, which "expresses an enthusiastic approach to its subject matter which is realized in both its welcoming nature and the pure happiness exuded by Wallace's journey of self-discovery."

* Jazmine Joyner reviews BRAZEN: REBEL LADIES WHO ROCKED THE WORLD by Penelope Bagieu, calling it "a diverse, and unabashed look into history and telling the stories many history books are too scared to print on their pages."

* Andy Oliver writes about THE TIMES I KNEW I WAS GAY by Eleanor Crewes, which "consolidates isolated moments in the life of its author into a greater whole. Mixing comics and illustrated text episodically, Crewes is perceptive enough to know when to let her imagery do all the talking and when to make use of a prose style that is lyrical and free-flowing in construction."

* Rachel Davies reviews WHY ART? by Eleanor Davis, wherein "Davis proves herself as a master of tone, interrogating traditional means of storytelling, and deliberately playing with he way that readers access narratives."

* John Seven on Jason Novak's ET TU, BRUTE? THE DEATHS OF THE ROMAN EMPERORS, writing "The lesson of Novak's book, though, is that once you have transformed something into chaos, chaos is going to follow..." Truly a lesson for our times.

* Tom Murphy talks about GHOSTS, ETC by George Wylesol. It's good to see this book still getting press.

* Noah Berlatsky reviews OUT OF NOTHING by Daniel Locke and David Blandy, and doesn't like it very much, saying, "Locke and Blandy want to tell the story of the universe with great sweep and resonance; they want science to have the force of myth. But science is a tool, not a meaning for existence. Without God, there's no myth. There's just that skull, and, like Out of Nothing, skulls don't have much to say." Personally, I couldn't disagree with Berlatsky more about this book. I've been working on a review of it for about a month now and I do hope someday I'll be able to publish it and explain why Berlatsky gets it all wrong.

WHATNOT 

* Ardo Omer interviews GG "about how she makes her comics, why the quest for freedom keeps coming up in her stories, and, more importantly, what's up with the pink?"

* Teddy Jamieson interviews JOHN PORCELLINO about his new book, From Lone Mountain, as well as "about life and poetry and the challenge of keeping things simple."

* Jillian Tamaki in conversation with ELEANOR DAVIS is one of the best interviews I read all week.

* RON WIMBERLY is on the Ghostshrimp and Friends Podcast talking about "early comic inspirations, the evolution of 90s visual culture, professional work ethic, finding out how the industry sausage is made, and main-stream projects vs dream projects."

* Austin Lanari writes a piece for Loser City called HERE'S AN IDEA FOR A FUNHOUSE: PAY THE DAMN CARTOONISTS focused on the practices of the recent Desert Island and SoHo based Drawing Center event where exhibitors were expected to produce original art for free.

* Jacob Brogan announces THE WINNERS OF THE SIXTH CARTOONIST STUDIO PRIZE selected by the Slate Book Review and the Center for Cartoon Studies.

* Want to know why Comics Twitter Will Break Your Heart? Then read Asher Elbein's piece on The Daily Beast titled #COMICSGATE: HOW AN ANTI-DIVERSITY HARASSMENT CAMPAIGN IN COMICS GOT UGLY -- AND PROFITABLE.

* Wesley Yang writes this piece over on Tablet called MICROAGGRESSIONS: WHY THE RACIAL FUTURE OF AMERICA HINGES UPON ASIAN AMERICANS.

* Finally, shout out to my friend Keith Silva, who pointed me towards Grace Lee's amazing video DAVID LYNCH: THE TREACHERY OF LANGUAGE.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Kickstart Your Part: Retrofit Comics Announces 12 New Books For 2018

12 new comics by Yoshimoto, Stevens, Pierre, Cobb, Aulisio, Lautman, Sakugawa, Tobin, Craghead, Williams, and Lannes!

BACK THIS KICKSTARTER TODAY!

As usual, the new slate of comics coming from Retrofit looks amazing:
  • All the Sad Songs - Summer Pierre
  • Fashion Forecasts - Yumi Sakugawa
  • I Love You - Sara Lautman
  • John, Dear - Laura Lannes
  • Our Wretched Town Hall - Eric Kostiuk Williams
  • The Prince - Liam Cobb
  • Survive 300 Million 1 - Pat Aulisio
  • Survive 300 Million 2: Serpentine Captives - Pat Aulisio
  • The Troublemakers - Baron Yoshimoto
  • TRUMPTRUMP vol. 2: Modern Day Presidential - Warren Craghead III
  • Understanding - Becca Tobin
  • The Winner - Karl Stevens

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Press Release: Avery Hill Announces Three Upcoming Books For 2018!!

Retrograde Orbit 
by Kristyna Baczynski 
Launching September 2018   
At the outer edge of the solar system, on the mining planet Tisa, Flint and her mother live in the colony of Swift Springs. Displaced by a nuclear event, Flint’s family settled in Swift Springs two generations ago to become miners. Soon Flint will be old enough to begin her apprenticeship at the refinery. 

But is the home that her family has built for her enough, or will a mysterious, irradiated planet pull her away from them? By following in their footsteps and leaving to forge a new path, is she betraying her family, or honoring their legacy? 

Exploring notions of home and the desire to leave it, Kristyna Baczynski’s first graphic novel is a story of relationships, of time and of the motion of the universe. 

120 pages 


Terrible Means 
by B. Mure
Launching October 2018 
In the city of Ismyre, something is stirring... 

An aristocratic businessman reveals the latest must have: a pillar of crystals that when placed within a home allows for the creation of beautiful illusions and more powerful spells to be performed. At the same time, Henriett, a disgraced biological professor now studying botany in a town far away, feels the disquiet in the air as specimens she has studied for years begin inexplicably dying out. 

On traveling to Ismyre, to warn the current Prime Minister and council of an imbalance within the world’s ecosystem and magic, she encounters a young magician called Niklas who is there for a very different reason. Alongside a crew of ex-academics and inhabitants of smaller surrounding villages, Henriett and Niklas work together to uncover the strange imbalance being created in the world. 

Set years prior to B. Mure’s first graphic novella in this series Ismyre, Terrible Means explores the motives and backstory of the mysterious eco-anarchist wizards and their terroristic, floral tendencies. 

80 pages 


A City Inside (Hardcover) 
by Tillie Walden 
Launching September 2018 
A stunning new hardback edition! 

Shifting between the every day and the surreal, A City Inside recounts one woman’s life from childhood home to the first love that she will never forget, to the creation of the idea of herself that she can grow old with and the home that she can grow old in. 

Walden’s follow up to the lyrical I Love This Part is a poetic exploration of the process of growing older; the journey towards finding out who you are and building a life for yourself. 

It is a universal story of how we don’t just come-of-age once, but many times throughout our lives. 

56 pages