Monday, November 12, 2012

diary of a guttersnipe 11/12/2012: dead people are infinities of maybes

by Shawn Starr

I attended the Brooklyn Comics & Graphics Festival this past weekend, i don't have any pictures because i hate taking pictures (along with having pictures of me taken). I was the sole Chemical Box member in attendance because Sandy is a bitch who hates fun. Also the electrical companies in New York are terrible at their jobs (Hurricane Sandy is also the reason there was no column last week).


The End of the Fucking World #12 (Oily)
by Charles Forsman

Every issue fills me with this sense of dread, even when nothing happens. I'm just waiting for the hammer to drop, even when the only thing that's happening is an awkward conversation between a daughter and her estranged father.

Ripper & Friends #1 (Traditional)
by Benjamin Marra

Following the Fantagraphics reprints of EC Comics, the once hallowed line has had it's reputation tarnished a bit (most notably by Chris Mautner, along with the earlier and recently reprinted, Ng Suat Tong essay 'EC Comics and the Chimera of Memory'). Pushing the well founded idea that the EC line is not so much a collection of masterpieces, but instead a line which produced mediocre to pretty good comics with top tier talent that had touches of brilliance.

With 'Ripper & Friends', Ben Marra begins his own similar critique of a much beloved classic comics work. That being one of Robert Crumb's seminal works 'Fritz the Cat' (a title also recently collected by Fantagraphics), a work which has been long seen as a biting satire of 60's culture.

Taking Crumbs "classic" comic turned movie one step lower on the intellectual totem pole, Marra casts 'Ripper & Friends' as a Saturday morning cartoon about a gang of dogs running away from the evil dog catcher and a mean landlord (which i am sure are all vicious critiques on "Fascism" and "Capitalism" or something). By taking Fritz from the respectability of print (and its semi-important place in film) and turning it into a children's show, Marra is able to strip away the vague intellectualism that Fritz spat out (always of course, in the midst of trying to have sex with a Crumb inspired woman) and was thought to represent. This in turn places the importance back on what the majority of the book was about, which was an anthropomorphic cat trying to fuck some stupid college girls. In Marra's version of this story we are treated to a drugged out dog and his gang trying to get revenge on some meth head college dropouts to in turn live another day to shit on another lawn.

By taking away much of the pretense of Crumb's 'Fritz the Cat' and leaving it as a bare bones work of obscenity laden gags, Marra (like Johnny Ryan) moves closer to the core of Crumb's work on Fritz, while also moving further away from the general consensus of the work.

Masters of the Universe: The Origin of Skeletor #1 (DC)
by Joshua Hale Fialkov, Frazer Irving

If you ever wondered if Frazer Irving could get me to buy a He-Man tie-in comic, the answer is yes.

Eat More Bikes (Koyama Press)
by Nathan Blumer

This is a very funny comic.


"I pray my dick get big as the Eiffel Tower, So I can fuck the world for 72 hours "


A continuing series of reviews/essays/thoughts on the anthology 'Thickness'

Thickness #1 (Self-published)
by Katie Skelly, Jonny Negron, Ze Jian Shen, Derek Ballard, True Chubbo
edited by Ryan Sands, Michael DeForge

The first issue of 'Thickness' is bare bones compared to later issues, featuring four short stories along with a reoccurring strip by True Chubbo. Drifting from the every day to the exotic, 'Thickness' #1 escapes any attempts at categorization in it's first issue, a trait the series maintains throughout it's (so far) 3 issue run. While many anthologies try to craft a through line with each issue (or simply stick within a set genre), 'Thickness' takes pleasure in its evasiveness and moves seamlessly between humor, action, horror and the abstract. Just like there are a million different fetishes, there are a million different stories to be told within the pages of 'Thickness', and the editors Ryan Sands and Michael DeForge choose not to limit their contributors with silly confinements.

The standout of 'Thickness' #1 is without a doubt Johnny Negron's 'Grandaddy Purple, Erotic Gameshow', this was my first exposure to Negron's work and its easy to understand why he rose so quickly in prominence. The story centers around a masked man breaking into a club/brothel and being given a prize for his successful infiltration, all he must do is choose a door.

What makes this story stand out is Negron's ability to move effortlessly between genres and tones, beginning with an action movie break-in (depicted as dynamic as anything Otomo ever drew) transforming into a absurd late night game show and ending in one of the most graphic sex scenes featured in 'Thickness', and at no point does any of these tonal jumps feel like anything but an organic extension of the narrative.

Negron's use of panels to manipulate mood and pacing are also worth mentioning. Opening with a cinematic three panel grid Negron begins to litter his page's with tiny groupings of panels which take on an animation like quality. The "regular" panels are still used for the major story beats, but these small batches of panels force the reader to slow down and linger on the moment they're depicting to a much greater degree than they would if given a full panel, creating an expansionist quality to them. It's a pacing technique that turns this almost completely silent comic into one of the densest and interesting in the series.

Katie Skelly's 'Breeding Season' along with Ze Jian Shen's 'Pearl Divers' offer a nice counterbalance to Negron's tale, taking on a more comedic and wistful tone. The most striking detail of Shen's entry is the use of an abrasive neon red as it's only form of color, that has a jolting effect after Negron's deep purples, acting almost like a light switch being flipped on after you've become accustomed to the dark.



Bergen St Comics makes every other comic shop I've been to look like shit in comparison. Utter shit.

Michel Fiffe is doing a monthly comic called 'COPRA', and i think its safe to say, just on a quick flip through, that it will be the best looking monthly comic coming out.

Additionally Michel Fiffe's piece on meeting Steve Ditko was an amazing read.

I really liked this single thought "Random Thoughts" column.

I finished reading Bret Easton Ellis' 'American Psycho' on the car ride to BCGF, and my major takeaway was that, as a work of satire, Ells may have pushed the violence too far both in its frequency and elaborateness. At times it felt like Ellis fetishized the killings more than Bateman ever could.

Josh Simmons is unsettlingly normal.

If 'Wayward Girls' has ever cleared customs, i would be shocked.

BCGF was hot as a donkey's ass (even though it was 50 degrees out) and filled beyond capacity, proving that even art-comic conventions have to obey the fundamental rule of comic conventions: everyone in attendance needs to be as uncomfortable and close together as possible.

Ben Marra is easily the chillest dude i have ever meet.

This is one of the better episodes of Comic Books Are Burning in Hell.

Started reading 'Marvel Comics: The Untold Story', my favorite part so far is Stan Lee defending Marvel as being multicultural by replying to an article and listing all the black characters at Marvel, including The-Man-Ape. Yep. The-Man-Ape. Not racist at all. (He also says Negro a couple times)

Watching Charles Bronson get fatter and older in each successive "Death Wish" sequel is sad to watch.

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