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A Total Mess

Today on the site, Joe McCulloch brings us his usual indispensable guide to the Week in Comics, highlighting all the most interesting-sounding books being released to stores. His spotlight picks this week include new titles by Taiyō Matsumoto and Dash Shaw.

He also writes at length about the work of La Morris Richmond.

Not a few months ago, at the Cartoon Crossroads Columbus festival, it was my great pleasure to meet La Morris Richmond; he was present for SÕL-CON: The Brown + Black Comix Expo, a suite of events partnered with CXC and run concurrently in the same venues. I’ve written about Richmond’s work before, specifically the 1993 Northstar horror comic Boots of the Oppressor, one of the most potent among b&w indie shock-horror specimens for its detailed attention to the systemic and linguistic dehumanization of black men and women under slavery. It is probably still Richmond’s most visible work, coming half a decade after his comics debut in NOW Comics’ The Real Ghostbusters #4, pencilled by a young Evan Dorkin; a rather gentler style of horror.

Indeed, there were not a few black creators active in the ’90s indie horror comics scene and its adjacent ‘bad girl’ boom of sexy occult divas. The late Steven Hughes springs to mind; he was co-creator of Evil Ernie and Lady Death, titles most commonly associated with their writer, Brian Pulido. The artist Louis Small Jr. was also prominent, having overseen the revival of Vampirella with writer Kurt Busiek and inker Jim Balent. But Richmond’s works as a writer were much spikier, and far less common – he only published one other short story with Northstar, the almost oneirically scattershot “.12 Gauge Solution” in Splatter Annual #1 (1994, drawn by Rich Longmore), before embarking on a work ostensibly more populist yet pushed even deeper into intensity – scenes from the life of a black separatist superhero.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—In a bit of good publishing news, Fantagraphics has announced they will begin distributing the books of UK publisher Breakdown Press.

Breakdown Press was founded by Simon Hacking, Tom Oldham, Josh Palmano and Joe Kessler in 2013. Their goal was to put out the work of cutting edge cartoonists and some of the very best alternative manga. Since then, Breakdown Press has become a curatorial publishing force, releasing books by Conor Stechschulte, Lale Westvind, Seiichi Hayashi, Antoine Cossé, and many others.

“Breakdown is the UK’s most ambitious, progressive, and editorially risk-taking comics publisher, so it was logical to partner with someone we considered a kindred spirit.,” said Fantagraphics President Gary Groth. “We look forward to getting their books and authors the wider readership in the US that they deserve.”

—Sacha Mardou writes about the treatment of women in the work of Daniel Clowes, making comparisons to Updike and Nabokov.

Clowes’s most stirring heroines often get to blow the joint at the end. Naomi walks out of David Boring’s warped (after?) life. We can’t help but note how pathetic and inept David looks next to this smart, deserving woman who packs her bags, vowing to escape the coming apocalypse. Good for her! Vida leaves for Hollywood, Violet leaves her bullshit non-marriage and step-family behind, and of course Enid is going to get on that bus before the story’s done.

What is going on here? The women get more choices than Clowes’s men. From Clay Loudermilk to Daniel Pussey to David Boring the men inhabit this spectrum of sad indignities like Fate’s blind somnambulists. The women are operating on a more awakened level I think. Dan Clowes writes women so damn well that they overshadow the men they deal with on every page that they interact together. Why is this so? Is it because of feminism? Post modernism? Punk rock? What’s driving this?

—The most recent episode of Inkstuds features Seth and Noah Van Sciver.


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