Friday, June 5, 2015

Books in Bites 2: Three Comics Worth Your Attention

Quick reviews of three books that you may be interested in.
TYRANNY OF THE MUSE #3
by Eddie Wright and Dave Chisholm
Available Here


Eddie Wright's dark examination of the toll of the creative impulse continues with his amazing Tyranny of the Muse. Issue three features a new artist, Dave Chisholm, and Chisholm's line work brings a fresh sort of clean intensity to what Wright is up to.

And what is Wright up to? I've been working this out through the past two issues. For issue one,  it seemed that he was turning creativity into destruction, the muse into the dealer, and provide, perhaps, a cautionary tale to artists who feel bereft of inspiration. Issue two was all about the addictive nature of creativity – its highs are so sweet, but its lows get worse and worse with each subsequent come down.

Tyranny of the Muse #3 is a bit of step back. More narrative driven, and, as I said before, cleaner. Here, as Wright says in his solicitation: “In this issue: We dip into Bonnie's past life as a different kind of muse. While in the present, we follow Frank into the rabbit hole of his screenplay, 'A Big Pile of Misery.' And in the screenplay, we learn more about Dusty, Frank's main character.”

And yet, even as story takes precedent over theme, Wright and Chisholm are still dancing in apperceptions and expectations. They are putting characters on slow burn, which makes them as real as they are metaphorical. There are moments in this issue of abject sadness, revelatory in nature and wrenching in force. There are also moments that work due to the pacing – where pauses make the humor or the drama that much better.

Tyranny of the Muse speaks to you. Pick it up here, or read it over on Study Group's site 

DARK PANTS #2
by Matt MacFarland
Available Here 

I've never really thought much about pants. They are pretty utilitarian after all – the most functional of garments – they serve primary purpose, keep us warm, hide our nethers, provide a layer of protection against the sun and thorns. But in Matt MacFarland's world, there's a certain pair of pants, DARK PANTS (with snakes on the pockets), that do so much more.

The last time I wrote about Dark Pants, I made a lot of hyperbolic statements about the possibilities of Dark Pants. Dark Pants #2 makes me want to continue that kind of ranting.

But I shall refrain.

MacFarland keeps his panting dark in issue #2. This time his dark panter is Milena Golgbashian, a young woman in Glendale, California in 2002 who writes the love-lorn column for El Vaquero, the student newspaper at Glendale Community College, is an English Lit major, and a romantic virgin.

The dark pants come into her life, though, and her inhibitions are cast aside. These are dark pants that ramp up the libido as much as they do the nerve. No longer are her amorous day dreams cast solely in her head. As the dark pants hug her ass, Milena becomes powerful, aggressive, a woman in control of her desires.

MacFarland is playing this whole game with his cards close to his chest, though. Desire becomes regret, becomes momentary, the reality of dreams leaves you casting coitus by a dank dumpster, only to have your cast-aside coat being sniffed by a Bukowski bum.

Blame the dark pants if you will, but those will take off in the morning's light and all you have left is yourself.

It's mysterious and leaves you panting for more.

You can pick up a copy of Dark Pants #2 (along with issue #1) here.

REPTILE MUSEUM #5
by Cody Pickrodt
Available here 

Speaking of pants, Cody Pickrodt has a new issue of his inscrutable and dynamic series, Reptile Museum. I'm captivated by what Pickrodt is doing with this thing, and each issue seems to pull back another layer only to reveal 400 more underneath it.

Reptile Museum #5 is composed almost entirely of a wordless fight scene that pummels and lifts and kicks and grapples like a steady flowing river through panelless page after page. Almost like the fight fetishism of Netflix's Daredevil series or that early wrestling scene between Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo in Foxcatcher, there's a underlying homo-eroticism to the violence that's not really about sexuality, but dominance and brotherhood. Connecting through sweating and the tussle, men assert their pecking order as much as their comradeship. And Pickrodt hits this perfectly, conveying the violent aspect of male relationships that is as primal as it is necessary.

Issue 5 is not about world building or plot advancement. Its sole purpose is for us to understand character just slightly more than we did before. What might pass as pondering or padding in some other comic, here, in Pickrodt's Reptile Museum, it's pace perfect. Pickrodt shows his draftsmanship, his grasp of anatomy, his understanding of moment, and he uses all these skills to push emotional beats and allow us access into the heads of his characters.

It's comic book craft at a high level and aspiring artists should study what Pickrodt is doing in these pages. They're good.

You can pick up Reptile Museum #5 here.

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