I'm surprised these three books haven't been widely written up - so I am hyping them up here. All three books are wonderfully colored. And two of them are printed by hand. Classy stuff.
Weird - Noel Freibert edited this anthology. This really feels like Noel's magazine. I've been watching Noel refine his voice over the years and as a fan of his work, I gotta say this is the one that feels like a bullseye. Maybe it's because his horror stuff has more of a context in a horror-themed mag instead of in an anthology of CCC pals? But even when Noel does his own comics, I mean just a mini of his own, there is a lack of, uh, context. Somehow the context of Weird is the correct platform, I think, for Noel to puppeteer the show. Inside Weirdyou can find Noel's own work, work from his peers (CCC kids and non-CCC kids), old horror reprints, funny text bits. It's a zine and kind of like one man's personal Kramers Ergot. Like Noel made his own version of a favorite crazy anthology. And it worked! For me it is the risograph printing on newsprint and the scale of the magazine. It just feels right. The violet blue and black ink together on the gray paper is super sweet and I was pleased to find out that Noel printed it all himself by hand.
Partial contributor list: Noel Freibert, Lane Milburn, Matthew Thurber, Anya Davidson, Molly O'Connell, Mollie Goldstrom, Carlos Gonzalez, Zach Hazard Vaupen, Leon Sadler, Jesse McManus, Jason T. Miles - and that's not all! See? One man's personal Kramers Ergot of the mind. What I mean is that - to me - this loose group of younger artists who encountered Kramers Ergot #4 all those years ago have taken the underground/artcomics football and scored their own touchdown. Check it out.
When I first saw the La Mano edition of Sammy The Mouse, I was shocked that Zak Sally had printed this one by himself. If you look close you can see some minor imperfections - proof that this was printed by hand - but it was hard to tell. And I mean that in a good way. French folds and perfect bound? On gorgeous paper? This is the rarefied air of very few self-publishers who also print — meaning not just xerox — their own work. The book is so nice you just marvel at the making of the thing (Google "Zak Sally's printing press").
For those who may not know - Sammy the Mouse was part of the now dormant Ignatz line put out by the corporate overlords here at Fantagraphics. The La Mano edition collects all three of those works into one volume.
It has been interesting seeing Zak work with color or tone in various ways over the years. Simply from a maker's perspective, I am impressed with his use of "overprinting" two colors to make an additional darker tone that in effect creates the "lines" of this work. The lovely blue and sandy brown ink combine in various degrees to make countless, subtle tones as well as making the "blackline," the darkest darks in the palette. It's a very difficult process and one that requires a great deal of skill to draw let alone print. (You have to line up the plates perfectly: the words are printed once as blue, and then again exactly as brown, using two different plates.) Simply from a makers point of view this is a beautiful book.
From a reader's POV it is one of those difficult books for me as it feels "real" like I'm watching a family member I love go round and round in circles on some binge or another. You listen to their stories but you feel claustrophobic doing so. Sammy The Mouse is one of those books that makes you feel like you are sympathizing with said family member about their bad day when it is really late and you are tired and wanting to go to bed. They are drunk and sitting at the edge of your bed blathering on about something and you fall asleep and then the story being blathered is somehow now in your dream. Like watching Scorcese's After Hours. It's funny sad and all the more weird because of the scary looking cartoon animals and it's so prettily drawn. I liked reading it but it was heavy. Man. Zak does some really interesting things with scale - scale of the text in the balloons, of backgrounds, figures - there's great variety in the world that the characters inhabit. Not many folks can "jump scale" and also have believable backgrounds - something gets lost in the translation. But Zak manages to walk us through his characters in a way that is like a ghost town movie set. My only gripe, as usual, is that the layouts are sometimes a little hard to follow and that some of the framing choices seem a little lazy or wacky for the sake of being wacky. Just saying. Otherwise, a lovely little color book. Check it out.
The Man Who Grew His Beard by Olivier Schrauwen - check out this review by Copacetic Comics.
A little impenetrable in that wordless story kind of way, even when there are words. I like the stories - actually read them - but I'm more interested in studying the way each page sports a new texture or approach. The art is simply fantastic. Some stories retain a color scheme for their entirety and some switch up the limited palette within the story itself. Totally my kind of thing. I like the coloring, the line drawing, the combination of both. The graphic, printmaking quality of it and the "classical" drawing are also attractive to me. I found myself just flipping through this collection for a long time. I like some of the stories more than others - and that's the way it always goes with these collections. I would love to have small mini-comics of my favorite stories and keep them separate from each other ("The Imaginist" is the one I really want as a mini-comic). Like any good collection it is hard not to just read one story and put it down. Breathe. Think about it and let that story stay with you for a minute. No, I just plow through it and around it and just look at it like a collage of beautifully hand crafted images.
Is it me or does the last story—the beach story (pictured above)—remind you somehow of King Terry?
High class stuff. Also, this book gets an award for best endpapers. Check it out.
Also, for those following along I am a little more than halfway done with my newest Correspondence Course. In theory I will be offering it in the summer. Stay tuned.
And lastly, I have a couple things I am selling. There is my story from the newest Kramers Ergot. Check it out here.
And then there is my wacky way of bringing you the best in, uh, curated comics: Check out my set sale - included in price is a cool sketch of one of the comics in the set.