Monday, March 10, 2014

diary of a guttersnipe 03/10/2014: tardiness is a young man's game


The Shaolin Cowboy #1-4 (Dark Horse)
by Geoff Darrow, Dave Stewart

One of the major problems i had with the previous issues of 'Shaolin Cowboy' was Darrow’s proclivity to put words everywhere, with needless amounts of dialogue on top of needless amounts of dialogue. In the newest volume, Darrow pushes away all of the needless exposition in the first issue fairly quickly, and then goes on a three and a half issue wordless fight sequence between the Shaolin Cowboy and a roaming naked mob of zombies which cross his path. Where are these zombies from? Fuck if i know. That therein lies the beauty of this latest volume, because it does not matter at all. They’re there and for nearly sixty pages (and more than a dozen double page spreads), Darrow gleefully illustrates the undead mobs disembowelment at the hands (or a pole which connects two chainsaws) of his titular character.

*stray observations
.This series seems almost like a throwdown with James Stokoe on the most dicks in an obsessively illustrated comic.
. All of Darrow’s male zombies seem to be uncircumcised. Found that worth pointing out.

Sex Criminals #4 (Image)
by Matt Fraction, Chip Zdarsky

I still don’t really understand the mass praise for this book. The writing and artwork are fine even funny at times, but it being hailed as a top ten work just does not compute. Maybe it's a continuation of the praising of basic competence which has prevailed the past few years best of lists. Where Mark Waid’s 'Daredevil' or BKV/Staples' 'Saga' are put up on the shoulders of the masses and raised to a pantheon that only those who write B+ works aspire to inhabit.

Anyways, I guess jokes about butt stuff are much funnier than i ever thought.

a (mildly tweaked) reprint
“When you roll up on us, you better make sure we is dead – cause Mayor or not, we gonna roll back up on your punk ass!!!” 

Gangsta Rap Posse #1-2 (Traditional)
by Benjamin Marra

On a cursory glance, 'Gangsta Rap Posse' reads like the scrawling of a twelve year old who watched too many NWA interviews and music videos, but ultimately it is so much more than that. Operating both as an artistic reaction to the inherent silliness of the more manufactured aspects of Gangsta Rap (because as many cops as Ice Cube claims to kill, it’s 2014 and he works for TBS now) and a love letter to the the genre; Marra walks the fine line between farce and sincerity. 'Gangsta Rap Posse' revolves around a prominent Los Angeles 'Gangsta Rap' group as they make their way across the city towards their newest album release party, and as one would assume, depravity runs rampant over the ensuing twenty-two pages.

This book isn't a mad dash across town though, Marra allows the Posse to explore the city. To let the work breathe if you will. Taking breaks to shoot up a Neo-Nazi party, and prove who the real "Master Race" is, foil an assassination plot set forth by the mayor over the Posse releasing a sex tape "G.R.P. (Gang Bangs Mrs. Mayor)", and settling the issue of copyright infringement over a balcony window. 'Gangsta Rap Posse' exists for these digressions, the plot is irrelevant really, except as a pretense for these moments.

It's in these cutaways that Marra is able to weave in historical Rap events; creating a depth one wouldn't expect from a book with the title 'Gangsta Rap Posse'. Harold Smithsonian (George Clinton) and Snoozy Koblins (Bootsy Collins) of the Funk Congress International (Parliament-Funkadelic) attempting to assassinate the Gangsta Rap Posse over sampling, is a controversy which has plagued Hip-Hop since its formation (entire albums have been created with sampled beats). When the Posse holds Harold Smithsonian out a window and forces him to sign over the rights to his music, Marra is referencing Suge Knight's ("supposed") acquisition of Vanilla Ice "Ice Ice Baby" royalties, an event which lead directly to the formation of Death Row Records and the birth of Gangsta Rap.

As Tucker Stone pointed out, Marra's greatest artistic strength is his ability to make his characters act. Subtle gestures like the cocking of the Mayor's neck after being corrected for going on a racist tangent, the childlike shame on the Mayor's face when talking about his wife's sex tape, tell so much more about the character than any exposition dump ever could. In addition to facial gestures, Marra plays with the stiffness of his lines to give an additional dimension of character to his figures. While the Posse and members of Funk Congress International are depicted with a loose swagger, the Police are posed almost as mannequins, a subtle and effective way of differentiating the two groups and their personalities.

This book would have failed if it was merely an exercise in irony, a send off to 70's Blaxploitation films with Gangsta Rap archetypes swapped in for "Dolemite". An interesting elevator pitch, but not much more than that. Instead 'Gangsta Rap Posse' takes this simple idea and builds on it. Adding tidbits of Hip-Hop history and controversy, giving the work a depth that allows it to rise above simple parody. 'Gangsta Rap Posse' delivers on it's title, but through Marra's art and reverence for the genre, does much more.

link dump

Off the bat, a podcast reunion of sorts for the Matinee Idles which was a movie podcast which featured The Chemical Box's very own Joey Aulisio and Alec Berry.

Speaking of Alec Berry, he's been rather prolific of late with his take on 'Ms. Marvel' #1, 'Celebrated Summer', 'Number' #1, and 'Moon Knight' #1. He also started some kind of essay publishing site called ByLine and a new podcast that he wisely abandoned after a week or so. Alec and Joey did a Best Of episode in there somewhere too.

Tucker Stone interviews Julia GfrorerGfrorer is an supremely under-appreciated artist in the art-comics scene. With the release of 'Black Is The Color', this issue seems to be starting to change. Following the success of her $5 postcards (I got one of them. It was a rabbit), she is offering some affordable commissions right now.

Newly translated Florent Ruppert and Jérôme Mulot titled 'La Poubelle de la Place Vendome'.
I keep finding scans of 'COPRA' online and it keeps bumming me out.

A Dash Shaw lecture which took place at the California College of the Arts. I saw Shaw give a very similar lecture at TCAF, it was very insightful. Also, Shaw announced a new mini-comic coming out from Fanta later this year called 'Cosplayer' which i’m excited about.

Michael DeForge’s 'Kid Mafia' was collected recently by Secret Headquarters, or at least the first three issues. That's one of my favorite DeForge comics, and largely only avaliable from him at conventions, so a collection should be a good way to get the work out there.

I read this Vladimir Nabokov interview with the Paris Review shortly before the release of the Alan Moore series of essays in the form of answers “interview” which recently came out. It’s weird, but Nabokov shit talks for almost the entirety of that interview in a way that i feel Moore wishes he could.

I watched every Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee last month. The Chris Rock one was probably the stand out, but they’re all pretty great. As an aside, one of my ex-managers met Chris Rock when he was shooting a scene at his work and i guess every time Rock ran into him, he kept asking him about his kids and if he was gonna go see "Madagascar 2" when it came out. This isn’t that funny of a story until my manager told me his wife had just filed for divorce a week previous (I would tell that story to everyone i ever met if it was me).

Ryan Holmberg on Post-War Manga. Ryan Holmberg on Manga is always a must read. I’ll miss those 40+ page essays in 10 Cent Manga.

The Inkstuds 500th episode. Featuring my two favorite Inkstuds recurring guests.

Leading into the final days of Angouleme, Katsuhiro Otomo was the hands on favorite to win the Grand Prix, but in an odd twist 'Calvin and Hobbes' creator and noted recluse Bill Watterson won the prize. Since Otomo is still up for the prize next year (as long as he is alive), here's his out of print and therefore extremely expensive early work 'Domu', which has recently appeared scanned in completion online. I have heard rumors that 'Domu' is better than 'Akira', but i’m not sure how much of that is bluster about having read the work and how much of it is truth.

A review of Jack Kirby’s adaptation of '2001: A Space Odyssey'. I have read most of that series in issues since it will never be reprinted (and not never like 'Miracleman', i mean like never ever). Since it is a very good comic, and as the review points out, an interesting work to look at to see what Kirby took and didn't take from the Kubrick film.

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