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Adult Westerns

Today on the site, we have an excerpt from The Vagabond Valise, a new book from the Quebec-based cartoonist Siris.

We also have Edwin Turner's review of the first two issues of Anders Nilsen's Tongues.

There's a lot going on in the first two issues of Anders Nilsen's new graphic novel-in-progress Tongues. A black eagle plays chess with Prometheus before tearing out the chained god's liver. A young American ambles aimlessly through a Central Asian desert, a teddy bear strapped to his back. Stealing away from his lover's tower window, a youth morphs into a black swan and flies into the desert, where he consumes the tongue and throat of a murder victim sprawled in the sand. A little girl chats in Swahili about her assassination plans with a black chicken. (There are lots of black birds in Tongues). There's also some literal monkey business. It's all really beautiful stuff.

Like I said, there's a lot going on, but the comic never feels cramped nor frenetic. Nilsen's pace and perspective have a cinematic quality. Wide lens opening shots offer panorama views of a slightly surreal world. Tinged with a touch of mythic magic, Nilsen's mountains, deserts, and cities are a sliver removed from our own reality. Nilsen gives us bird's-eye views of this world, but we also get to see it from the ground up: a mercenary army on the move, a boy tripping and falling, lizards scuttling across the desert floor. Nilsen's clean, clear style depicts movement and perspective with a filmic quality that absorbs the reader's attention.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Alex Dueben talks to Ivan Brunetti at Smash Pages about his new children's book.

I didn’t have a definite plan to begin a second book when Wordplay came out, but I enjoyed the process of creating the first one, and Françoise encouraged me to submit another idea. I think I came up with the idea for 3×4 a couple of months after Wordplay came out. I figured that a book about numbers might make a fitting complement to a book about words, so that was the genesis of the idea, trying to make a logical pair. After an initial conversation with Françoise, I sketched out the book in very rough thumbnail form (this is what I do for pretty much every project), and then the process of editing began. As you might guess, this is something at which Françoise excels, so through a fair amount of back-and-forth, with her guidance I somehow got to a tighter thumbnail—not in terms of drawing, necessarily, but in terms of structure and flow. I like to have a solid skeleton to build upon, although I’m aware that projects inevitably morph and mutate as they progress (and this was no exception). It’s sort of a very slow coming into focus, refining it while drawing it.

At the New York Times, Ed Park reviews the third book in Jules Feiffer's noir trilogy, as well as Young Frances by Hartley Lin (Ethan Rilly).

The new American disorder is enough to make some of us contemplate Canadian citizenship, which might partly explain the shameless crush I have on the debut of the Montreal-based artist Hartley Lin. Funny and generous, YOUNG FRANCES (AdHouse, $19.95) is half coming-of-age story (female-friendship variety), half office novel. Lin’s line is both romantic and scrupulously composed, with precise framing that can recall a Wes Anderson tableau. The dialogue ranges from deadly accurate corporate jargon (“How long do you think you can survive without deliverables?”) to the kind of stuff you’d utter only to your closest friend (“People can get tapeworms in their brain, right?”). And Lin knows precisely when to let a few panels of premium Canadian silence sink in. (One character is shown reading — wait for it — Alice Munro.)


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