Monday, December 9, 2013

diary of a guttersnipe 12/09/2013: "hicksville or bust!"

by Shawn Starr

yea this is way late but i am lazy and sad so give me a break....

my CAB report
(** If i use two asterisks its not stealing Tom Spurgeon's format.)

** Drove to New York on Friday morning after not sleeping the previous night because I am a fucking moron. That drive is much better than the one to TCAF though, surprisingly enough.

** I went down with my Mother/Sister who were doing a joint vacation the same weekend in New York, this was possibly designed so i didn't have to pay for a bus/train ticket.

** I watched a marathon of "Boy Meets World" in the hotel room before Joey picked me up, it was the episode where Corey and Topanga get married. I like that the actor who plays Corey decided to play him as an old jewish man from the start. I also don’t understand why all their friends refuse to left them live with them, and actively get them kicked out of their residencies, just to teach them a lesson about hardships.

** Site Editor Joey Aulisio picked me up at a hotel after being in traffic for six years due to my poor understanding of time and how traffic works. He didn't know what i looked like since there are no photos of me online, so our first interaction was me leaving the hotel bar after he’d told me he was in the lobby and him walking by me and stopping to compliment my Youth In Decline shirt. I found it charming.

** We went out and got Chinese food while i was dozing off in his car. Once we got back to his house we got a series of texts from Alec Berry asking for directions. You see Alec had driven from West Virginia to Long Island without a GPS and no minutes on his phone and had (on the last leg of the trip) gotten lost. After a few tense minutes (a.k.a. us calling him a fucking idiot because who the fuck does that) he arrived and ate some soup that Joey had gotten for him.

** Me and Alec talked about how we both don’t write anything anymore, and how we should write more. Also that Sean T Collins / Frank Santoro post because that was the hot topic in comics at the moment.

** Joey limited the number of water bottles Alec could drink after Alec had mildly destroyed the recyclability of the one he had given him. Here is a picture of the bottle:

** Here is a picture of Joey trying to fix it:
(Alec gave him 25 cents for the destroyed bottle)

** I slept on the floor.

** I’m told i snore very loudly, but i didn't really feel bad since Alec took the couch. That piece of shit.

** We got to the show without much hassle. We only hit traffic when getting off the exit to the venue and  i think we spent more time trying to find parking then we did driving.

** I still don’t understand this bars' sign.

** The show’s in the same venue as last year, a church gymnasium which still elicits terrible catholic school memories. I pretty much be-lined it for the DeForge table to buy everything he had with him because that's how i start every con. 'Ant Colony' had sold out before we even got in the car to head out, which is kind of insane.

** The next thing i grabbed was 'Life Zone', Hanselman had a solid line for most of his signings. He seemed very charming for the 30 seconds i talked to him.

** I really like Frank Santoro’s set up, at TCAF and the Boston Comicon I talked with Chuck Forsman about how someone would clean up at the TCAF’s if they showed up with long boxes of silver/bronze/early-Image comics. Based on the purchases i saw while being there, that seemed true (I bought seven volumes of 'The Drifting Classroom' for $20 from him which is a god damn steal). 'Comics Workbook' #1 seemed to be going over very well, i had some mild issues with it once i read it but for $2 its worth a look through (Also, seeing criticism in print outside of TCJ once a year is nice).

** Joey doesn't understand my need to get my books signed, i don’t really either but David Mazzucchelli was in the building and…

**Artists really need to bring a bank to cons, i don’t think I've been to one yet where i don’t have at least five interactions where breaking a bill larger than a ten isn't an issue that takes several minutes to figure out.

** While less oppressively than last year, that venue still gets uncomfortably hot as the day goes on and the crowd gets larger.

** Me and Alec went outside to get some air and talked to Chuck Forsman for a bit. This guy was doing some art-show /music thing. I made a post-fort thunder joke about him, but no one laughed.

** When we went back in we couldn't find Joey, but after a few minutes we found him sitting behind Michel Fiffe’s table. He’d somehow swindled someone into giving him a place to sit down. He stayed there and shit talked with Fiffe for the remainder of the show while i gave both floors a few more passes and left knowing i’d missed something important that i’d always regret not buying (turned out it was John Pham’s book).

** I enjoyed the show, although this year's lineup seemed to be lacking a bit of the international feel that last years had (And a lot compared to TCAF).

** I have yet to catch any of the programming at BCGF/CAB in the two years I've attended, i think having it as a one day show and putting the programming in a separate building inhibits me from wanting to go to it. Also the early time of the 'City of Glass' panel, and the almost guarantee that it’d be filled by the time i got there kind of killed that one for me.

TCAF does a similar thing, on an even greater scale (i think last year had 3-5 offsite locations) but it being a two day show and in a much bigger venue (trying to walk the floor at CAB after 2pm is not very easy or pleasant so you kind of need to of bought everything you want before that and then just drift around after that) makes it feel less of a burden. Also the 3-5 locations are spread out enough that, if you were to go to panels at 2-3 of them you’d get a very feel for that area of the city (also could probably find someplace nice to eat on the way).

** We left and got burritos in long island around 3pm. Joey chastised me for getting a soda and drowning my burrito in hot sauce. That man's a stickler for health.

** Me and Alec read each other's comic purchases while Joey took a nap or something. I shoved my copy of 'Life Zone' into Alec's hands off the bat, he hadn’t read any of Hanselmann’s work before but seemed to really enjoy it. I’ read his copies of 'Beach Girls' which was a fun comic and one of the Andrew White books he got (Deconstruction?) looked interesting.

** I think that's it...we watched "This Is 40" which is probably the worst Apatow film, i slept on the floor again and was told i still snored.

** Oh, on the way home i stopped with my mother/sister at a wine tasting and it was the most awful things I've ever done. If you want to see the demographic that watched "The Newsroom", go to a wine tasting.

Ant Colony (Drawn & Quarterly)
by Michael DeForge

Do newspapers still print Sunday strips? Not cartoon strips that run on Sunday, but those strips that require Fantagraphics to print up giant 'Kramer's Ergot' 7 sized reproductions that have a base cost of $75 because any smaller reproduction would destroy your ability to read/fetishize them. Anyways, if they do then good for them, but 'Ant Colony' is (without even bothering to look it up) the best Sunday strip of the past decade.

That's a completely uninformed opinion, but i feel like it will stand the test of time.

In an era when even historical underground newspapers are folding, DeForge took one of the key legacies of cartooning and print which is the Sunday Strip, and re-purposed it for a medium that could still support it, Tumblr.

The plot of 'Ant Colony' revolves around a black-ant colony attacking a neighboring colony of red ants driven mad(der) by a substance secreted by spiders during copulation. DeForge creates a highly structured and complex world for the black-ant colony to live in, and while the story is centered on a couple of male worker ants as their relationship falls apart due to the red ant attacks, it does not shy away from introducing additional characters including a cowardly cop, a vision seeing child, or a female ant that has been repressed by society which keeps the male and female populations separated for fear of usurping the queen, and that doesn’t even mention the entire world outside of the colony DeForge is weaving.

DeForge’s story is large, it is ambitious both narratively and thematically, and at no point does it falter.

Last Letter (self-published)
by Hellen Jo


That's the only word i can think of after reading Last Letter. The books design and narrative revolve around destruction and point towards the freeing nature that the act brings about. 'Last Letter' arrives inside a sealed envelope, the return address penciled in by hand reads / On the Internet, a place where a physical letter can never be returned. One must consume it's contents or discard them, but never send it back - the object has achieved physicality from a realm that exists outside of the physical and it utilizes this new found existence to bring the reader into the narrative and creative process.

To read 'Last Letter', one must tear open the envelope which it is housed in (Not the envelope that it is mailed in, it is physically housed inside a smaller envelope). What could initially be seen as a cute production idea takes on additional meaning though once one actually opens the envelope; inside a small sixteen page silent mini comic. The first image contained within depicts a female sitting on a curb covering her face with one hand as a letter dangles in the other. This first illustration turns the nonchalant red envelope into the cover of the work and creates a real time prologue to the comic. This prologue is not illustrated by the artist, but instead acted out by the reader as they open the envelope. As harshly or carefully as the reader chooses to open the envelope, the act carries an energy over to the first panel which the artist could never anticipate, but that the work relies upon to provide a greater context. One could rip it open like an excited child receiving what they think is a birthday card containing money; or they could open it slowly and methodically, taking great care not to damage the envelope or the letter it contains in anticipation of what they hope will be good news one would want to preserve. Both of these actions, and the multitude of the variations in between them, all lead to the same answer though. A girl slumped over.

The content of the letter is never revealed, the comics title hints that it is a last letter, but from who and concerning what is not divulged or even hinted at. What is depicted though is the nameless female character working through her grief. In sixteen pages, her character cycles through each of the five stages of grief, and on each page that emotion is conveyed clearly and with feeling. Even the journey of the letter is a story in of itself, shifting from being covered in tears, being thrown on the ground in frustration and ultimately shredded and set ablaze. It’s journey mirrors the actions of its recipient, as they both move on to another place being consumed by flames. That Jo can realistically convey a wide range of emotions over the course of so few pages, without the aid of dialogue, but simply through her relying on her strength as a cartoonist and ability to manipulate body language is impressive.

you can purchase 'Last Letter' here.

Uber, Volume One (Avatar)
by Kieron Gillen, Caanan White, Keith Williams

The back matter in these issues where Gillen struggles with the idea of writing a comic which is based at it’s core on real people and real events (and in particular Nazism) is by far the most interesting part of these comics. The book itself is fine. It’s Avatar so the art is so-so and the writing is good enough, but it’s that struggle with one's own ethics that takes place between the back matter of each issue, along with the years that this book has been gestating within him which lifts the work to another level.

Read the comic, but digest the backmatter.

Moon Comic
by Blaise Larmee

A comic told through photographs. It begins with a single white light, which depending on the speed you are scrolling through, is quickly joined by a group of three yellow lights which mirror the white lights movements. These lights move around -disconnected in between panels which the vertical instead of horizontal reading structure only further highlights - coming together and repulsing each other until the four lights combine and then explode into dozens. The final image reveals these are all just lights from an airport.

Ascribing narrative is weird. Ascribing narrative importance is even weirder. Especially when they’re lights from an airport. This comic reminded me i’m fucking dumb.

There is also Shower Comic and Cat Comic.


Jog on Frank Woodring's 'Fran'

an art style that started with 'First Year Healthy' takes on new heights in 'Flu Comic'. A comic that was spawned by a 24 hour flu that DeForge once suffered.

Chris Mautner interviews Frank Santoro, as did Publishers Weekly.

Alec Berry is writing again. Alec wrote me a few times telling me i needed to write something to kick his ass back into gear, but i just couldn't. When Alec isn't writing (as he wasn't this past year), i’m not at my best. Which means i could barely kick my own ass into writing something feigning intelligence. Hence the past year’s scatter-shot output. Anyways, he has three essays out in less than a week's time and based on our privileged correspondences, he seems determined to keep up the pace.

Here are links:

Alec on 'Internet Comics'

Alec on Sam Alden’s 'Backyard'

Alec on not writing

I liked this Rob Liefeld piece, the first paragraph in particular.

"Jeet Heer, I like to call him the “Derek ‘Jeet’er of comic books" .................*sigh*. Heer was also involved in a much better and less groan worthy pun laden interview with Tom Spurgeon. The takeaway quote was:  “As a friend says, doing superheroes for adults is like doing porn for kids”

A piece about the soon to be ramp up to re-re-re-extended corporate copyrights.

Tom Spurgeon on 'Frontier' #2 and his piece on this year's CAB.

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